We Look At Two Powerful (and Affordable) Screenwriting/Scripting Software Packages For Linux-Based Writers (Mac & Windows Too)

Months ago I wrote about moving back into the video scriptwriting space, and since that post — using Linux-based software — I’ve written an even dozen corporate video scripts and (shockingly) a five-minute short film script.

I’d be lying if I said it was easy, but it has been a lot of fun.

The formatting conventions of scripts made writing them a drag, but after discovering the free, open-source Celtx screenwriting software (available on Mac, Windows & Linux), I said good-bye to all the hassles.

Writing scripts suddenly became all about… writing a script.

Celtx made formatting an AV script a simple job (so easy, even a caveman screenwriter [which is most of them] could do it).

Celtx

Celtx -- the Swiss Army Knife of script writing software?

A favorite among students (students like free), Celtx also touts its built-in index card/plotting functions and production features, and this indie filmmaker seems to agree.

I love Celtx, but recently stumbled across Fade In screenwriting software (also available for Mac, Windows & Linux).

If I was writing movie scripts, I’d give it a close look.

Fade In doesn’t offer a side-by-side “Audio-Visual” format normally used for corporate video or Celtx’s index cards, but for standard format scripts, it’s slick and fast and pretty — and it imports Final Draft (.fdx) files.

Fade In screenwriting software

Fade In is fast, affordable, imports Final Draft and Celtx files -- and is aimed directly at screenwwriters

It’s even attracting attention from the people I’d suggest are “real” screenwriters.

In other words, Linux-based script writers now enjoy choices; Celtx offers pre-production tools and templates ranging from Hollywood screenplays to theater and radio. It also offers an online version control system ($5/month) and some powerful new mobile tools (more on that soon).

Meanwhile, Fade In — which isn’t free, but only costs $49 (limited time offer, free trial available) — is aimed at movie and TV writers. It imports Final Draft files (.fdx) and offers you more control over script formatting, and syncs with your Dropbox account.

Both even offer full screen writing and change-tracking revision modes.

Powerful stuff, especially for those of us who wrestled with balky templates in our prior writing lives.

More importantly (to me), those of us who said good-bye to Microsoft and are now making a living on top of the fast, open source, won’t-nanny-you-to-death (we have clients for that) Linux OS — aren’t missing much.

Going Mobile

I have doubts about creating content on mobile devices, but clearly, writers are increasingly using phones and tablets to writer/edit/update their scripts.

And in the mobile world, both Celtx and Fade In are — frankly — kicking Final Draft’s butt (Final Draft doesn’t even offer a mobile app).

Celtx’s screenwriting app is currently available for iPhones and the iPad; Fade In’s mobile app is available for iPhones/iPads and Android phones/tablets.

In addition, Celtx just released its Celtx Shots app for the iPad — storyboarding and set blocking software that at least one independent filmmaker thinks descended from the heavens.

Celtx Shots app

The Celtx Shots iPad app

The mobile world is shiny and new and unsettled, and clearly, upstart software vendors are using the mobile app space to challenge slow-moving “industry leaders”.

How valuable that is to you depends on how heavily you’ve embraced mobile.

Me? I just don’t see it happening on my Android phone, but I did just buy a Toshiba Android tablet, and while I’d hate to write on it, I can see how you could use it to update or edit a document.

Fade In android app

The Fade In Android app

Sorta.

The Part Where I Summarize

It’s clear that Linux-based writers have no reason to shy away from script writing projects; Celtx and Fade In are powerful and affordable, and all that’s left is to pick one and get started (I own both).

Celtx is free (their “Writer’s Pack” is only $14.95, so buy it) and covers the gamut — from novels to radio scripts to movie scripts. It also offers its index cards and plotting functions, and boasts of its pre-production features (that I’ve never tested).

It’s the Swiss Army Knife of scripting software.

Fade In is smaller and sharper-edged (I’d suggest it represented the new wave of streamlined desktop software), though it’s clearly aimed at those writing movie or TV scripts. If I was one of the literally tens of thousands of screenwriters pounding up a spec feature script, I’d try it.

Keep writing (on fast, free, hassle-free Linux), Tom Chandler.