While traditional software is still the bread and butter of the industry, there’s something to be said for the ability to make changes on the go. Screenwriter Michael Johnathan Smith agrees, telling Macworld he, “loves the idea of being on-set and quickly making changes to the script right then and there without whipping out a heavy duty laptop—or at least being able to work on a script that’s currently on my laptop at home.”
Yes, there’s the industry standard Final Draft, but there are hundreds of other apps that can help turn an idea into a finished script. We’ve filtered through all the options to find ones that offer a range of features and ease of use for everything from brainstorming to copyediting.
Winner: Most convenient, all-access screenwriting platform available. Why Download? Optimized for mobile browsers with a dedicated app on the way.
Insight: Having already won over the industry with its combination of software and browser-based options, WriterDuet is on the verge of releasing a native mobile screenwriting app with all the bells and whistles, including online and offline functionality. In the meantime, their free browser interface is optimized for mobile, making it one of the most cohesive, streamlined screenwriting experiences across any platform. Currently, WriterDuet is available at ScreenCraft for the lowest price anywhere.
Winner: Best Free-Flowing Idea Tool. Why Download? It’s a different kind of research tool in a visually dynamic format.
Insight: Used in schools for research projects and reports, one teacher says this search and organization tool, “goes beyond quick searches to engage in critical thinking of what [students are] discovering. It’s meant to be interactive.” It’s like Google, but searches through websites that wouldn’t normally come up in search results, and maps everything in a flow chart for easy visualization. It also has a journal function for keeping notes. If you have the beginnings of an idea, this app will get your creative juices flowing.
Winner: Best Research App Bar None. Why Download? It’s the Star Trek computer in the palm of your hands.
Insight: This powerful app is the only place you’ll go for research. In fact, parts of it are used by Apple’s own Siri. It took Stephen Wolfram’s development team 25 years to complete what was created to be, “the world’s definitive source for instant expert knowledge and computation.” This app puts Wikipedia to shame with 10-plus trillion pieces of data from primary sources that continuously update. If one of your characters needs to sound like an expert—this is the place to find that research.
Winner: Best Treatment Writer. Why Download? Writing treatments on the fly is easy with this streamlined story-mapping tool.
Insight: This app isn’t for screenwriting, but rather getting your structure down by using index cards that can be exported to Scrivener and Final Draft, or synch with Dropbox. Story Skeleton’s sharp, finger-friendly interface lets you to get your ideas down in as few keystrokes as possible. As one reviewer said, “[it’s] simple, yet incredibly functional. I was productive a few minutes after I bought it and it is still my go-to app when a storyline idea strikes me.”
Winner: Best Screenplay Guide App. Why Download? The app version of the go-to organizational system helps create a sellable story from a logline.
Insight: Based on Blake Snyder’s series of best-selling books, this app and desktop software won’t let you to write a full screenplay, but will help you generate your idea, logline, outline, and character elements before you start writing. Share beat sheets as PDFs and export everything into Final Draft; create scene note cards; notate your characters’ wants and needs; organize your research; create set-ups and payoffs; and make sure you have all the elements of a great screenplay with the Greenlight Checklist.
Winner: Best Writer’s Monkey. Why Download? This best-selling app makes it easy to edit scripts on the go.
Insight: Are you writing your film’s third act while it’s shooting? If so, A) good luck, and B) download this app. It’s number one for a reason—it makes life easier whenever you need to write, review, or edit your script, from wherever you are. It supports Final Draft, Celtx, and PDF formats, and allows for iCloud syncing so you can easily flow between devices. When all is said and done, you can export your finished script to Dropbox or email. The best part? It’s clean interface is absolutely slick.
Winner: Coolest Features in a Script App. Why Download? It offers cool features and the ability to vary formats.
Insight: Celtx’s features make it a stand-out. For starters, some production companies deal only in open source software, and Celtx fits the bill. It gives the option of a “parchment background,” which comes in handy against the draining blue light of iPads and iPhones. What really shines though is its ability to automatically format screenplays, stageplays, teleplays, and even comic books. Not just for scripts, this app lets you can create storyboards, breakdowns, schedules, budgets, and cast and crew reports. But beware, it won’t work with Final Draft—only PDF and text files.
Winner: Best Teamwork Facilitator. Why Download? The people behind Asana have reimagined email to make it exponentially more efficient.
Insight: Asana is a to-do list, but one that’s smart and made for teamwork. Chiefly focused on conveying information between team members of any sort, when used with your collaborators, it’s a commanding tool that lets you schedule and assign tasks. It’s email 2.0 with Google Drive and Dropbox synch that keeps conversations within a project instead of scattered like email. Every conversation is up-to-date, organized, and gives you fewer reasons to procrastinate.
Winner: Most Useful Call Notes App. Why Download? Easily remember what was discussed in your last call.
Insight: Want to sound on-point and prepared during your next story meeting? With this app, every time you call someone your previous history will be brought up, along with notes from each call. You can add notes while a call is happening to save yourself from scrambling around for a pen and piece of paper. The second you download the app, it’s good to go.
Winner: Best Get it Done App. Why Download? Puts a wisecracking, salty spin on the usual to-do app.
Insight: There are countless to-do apps out there, but this one takes the cake, or should we say carrot cake, for the most fun. The app is like Siri, but with a snarky personality that keeps you on your toes. As you check off tasks, Carrot unlocks rewards in the form of new features like reminders, mini-games, and even a virtual pet cat. Slack off though, and Carrot will be miffed—and you don’t want to make Carrot miffed. Great for at-home writers who need some oomph to get them going, Carrot does just that while putting a smile on your face.
Winner: Best Virtual Copy-Editor. Why Download? The minimalist app for when you need a second pair of eyes.
Insight: Editing is often the toughest part of writing, but tools specifically made for the dreaded task are few and far between. Through syntax highlighting, statistics tools, readability scores, and root word breakdowns, this app looks at every piece of data so you can see where touch-ups need to be made. Are you using too many adverbs or repeating the same word without realizing it? Phraseology will let you know and suggest replacement words as well.
Did we miss any apps that screenwriters should utilize? Sound off in comments below.
Diane Panosian is the research editor for SSN Insider with a focus on financial and awards tracking.
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