Top 5 Paid Screenwriting Programs

Final Draft is the industry standard, but there are several good paid screenwriting programs available

While Celtx may be the gold standard for free screenwriting programs, anyone who is going to make a serious run at being a screenwriter is going to have to shell out the cash for a professional screenwriting program.

There are many different programs out there and not all are created equal. Take the time to decide which of these favored software is best for you.

Final Draft

Final Draft is the most expensive of the screenwriting programs, but it’s also the industry standard. If you’re working on a script and sending it off to someone, odds are its either in PDF or Final Draft format. It comes with all the bells and whistles you might expect including auto-fill, color coding, formatting, pagination, etc. It also has a number of templates for screenplay, teleplay, stage and comic books. It costs around $175, but it’s the best out there.

Movie Magic Screenwriter

Movie Magic Screenwriter is another popular program, and it’s more affordable than Final Draft. It uses a function called naviDoc to track and organize your scripts. It’s a great function at first, but as the numbers of scenes increase, it can be a little tricky to use. It’s one fatal flaw is that it lacks support for the Final Draft format. It has most of the features of Final Draft and costs a little bit less, around $149.

Movie Outline

Movie Outlines is another strong program that costs about the same as Movie Magic. What sets this program apart from the others is the story development tools. Both Movie Magic and Final Draft assume you know everything about story and character development, but as any beginning screenwriter knows that comes with experience. It has a bevy of features and supports Final Draft format, so it’s a good choice for someone without any formal training in screenwriting.


Montage is a more affordable alternative at about $75, and it’s basically Final Draft light. It’s only available for Apple computers, but it also comes with a list of contacts in the industry. I don’t know how good that is given how fast things change, but I can’t hurt. Overall, it a good program for someone looking for something that costs less than the big boys.


At $79, Storyist is another of the more affordable options for screenwriting. Overall, it’s a solid program that has plenty of features for its price. It’s by no means a Final Draft and lacks story development tools, but for someone that has experience, but not the funds, it’s a good program. The one main downside is that its interface is a little jumbled. When you get into the writing and start using some of the features, the screen can get cluttered with windows to the point of distraction. If you’re a purist writer that just needs bare bones with no frills, then you might consider Storyist.

If you search for screenwriting programs, you’ll be hit with page after page. Prices range from Final Draft pricing to less than $10. If you want to make it in the industry, then you’re going to need a professional screenwriting program, and these are the best in my opinion. You can disagree, and I am sure some will, but dollar for dollar, these cover all the needed bases.


  1. Bryan says:

    What are people’s opinions of Adobe’s CS5 companion program “Story”?

  2. christian link says:

    Since your opening statement is “either pdf or final draft”, I don’t see how Celtx is ruled out, since it would be a pdf. Most producers don’t have final draft, so writers are free to use what they can afford.

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