The 10 Essential Tools For Every Screenwriter6 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Whether you’re a professional screenplay writer, planning to start on your very first script, or working on your entry to The Inciting Incident, here are a few tools and resources that are bound to help you craft your next big story.
Good artists copy, great artists steal. Reading screenplays for inspiration and to learn the method behind the madness is an essential part of any screenwriter’s routine. With the Internet’s largest database of movie scripts all easily readable on mobile devices, make visiting The Internet Movie Script Database a part of your daily commute.
While there are a plethora of scriptwriting programs around, Celtx stands out as one of the more user-friendly around with most of the basic tools any screenwriter would need for free. Besides its excellent word processor, the software boasts a slew of features, including the ability to easily format the script to industry standards, and a space dedicated for storyboarding. However, the basic version of the software limits the number of scripts to three. Nevertheless, it has everything that a budding screenplay writer would need for their first script. Celtx is available for both Windows and Mac OS X.
To string together scenes to create a cohesive narrative is perhaps the most difficult part of the screenwriting process. PlotDash is a free online script board designed to ease the pain. As with its physical corkboard cousin, PlotDash’s drag-and-drop scene cards makes planning out stories a breeze. The website’s simple clarity makes it an excellent starting point for pitches and collaborations with other writers when paired with a screen sharing application.
While screenwriting programs such as Celtx and WriterDuet do offer the ease of cloud-based collaborative writing, these features are often locked behind a paywall. Enter Youmescript, a lightweight word processor designed for collaborative screenplay writing right from your browser. Through Google Drive, writers are able to share and work on their script without the hassle of ads. The website also boasts a deep suite of features, such as a location and character directory, and inline notes.
Reddit doesn’t have to be a website meant only to kill time at work or on the way home. Subreddits such as r/Screenwriting and r/Writing are excellent for discussions and helpful resources. Meanwhile r/ReadMyScript gives writers the opportunity to get community feedback for their work. Need inspiration? There is no place better than r/WritingPrompts.
As with the ocean of programs, there is a wide selection of podcasts dedicated to screenwriting. Podcasts such as Scriptnotes and On The Page are hosted by industry professionals and offer invaluable insights through interviews with their peers. Special mentions goes to the Draft Zero podcast, which focuses more on analysing screenplays, and the Selling Your Screenplay podcast, which hones in on the lesser-talked about aspect of selling the completed works. Nevertheless, there is something for everyone of all proficiency.
Reading the screenplay is never as impactful as seeing how it translates onto the screen – this is where YouTube channel Screenplayed comes in. Enjoyed by thousands around the world, Screenplayed takes famous scenes from popular films and TV shows and juxtaposes them with how they were written. Although it is limited in its scope of select scenes, the channel is a welcomed tidbit-sized reprieve from all your hard work writing.
Inspiration can come at the strangest of times. Available on virtually all platforms, a writer can easily jot down lines of dialogues or scenes with Evernote before accessing them afterwards through their phone or computer. Found something inspirational while browsing the web? The Evernote Web Clipper Chrome extension can clip a screenshot of a webpage onto the notebook. Unfortunately, Evernote is limited in its basic version, allowing only two devices to be synced per account and a small cloud space. This, however, shouldn’t be a problem for the text-focused writer.
Even the best writers make grammar and spelling mistakes from time to time. Grammarly is a free Google Chrome extension devised to minimise these errors, making corrections possible with the click of a button. Being a browser extension does limit its reach to only webpages, making it fairly troublesome to have to copy and paste the script from the scriptwriting program to an online documents page. Nevertheless, Grammarly is a simple yet invaluable tool to ensure that scripts are free from any embarrassing errors.
Forest is a mobile app and Google Chrome extension that looks to achieve the impossible task of keeping a writer focused on their work. The application does this by guilt tripping writers to not pick up their phone or to browse blacklisted websites on their browser within a set duration lest they want to kill a virtual tree.