Writing is hard. Most of us know the feeling of having to pull an all-nighter to wrap up a thesis paper due in the morning – and those papers rarely broke 40 pages. I can’t imagine the pain, blood, and sweat that gets poured into writing a screenplay of 150 pages. That just doesn’t happen without any help.
Have you ever had dreams of writing for the big screen? Do you think you have the next blockbuster idea – the next Inception? Even if you’re more interested in short films or theater, scriptwriting is what you’re looking for. And rightfully so, the scriptwriting business is extremely difficult to break into.
Fortunately, the Internet is full of kind and helpful souls who are willing to share their secrets, tricks, and lessons with aspiring and budding writers. Here are some of the best scriptwriting resources that free can buy.
- Celtx: Celtx is a self-proclaimed replacement for paper, pen, and binder. Everything that’s involved in scriptwriting preproduction, you can do it in Celtx and have it kept all in one place. If you’ve ever heard of Scrivener, then Celtx is the scriptwriting version–except entirely free! There are mobile and desktop versions and they all sync up well with cloud services. If you purchase the premium version, you get even more features.
- Page 2 Stage: Page 2 Stage is a scriptwriting program that helps you keep all of your scripts formatted and organized. It provides a number of features that aren’t available in most modern word processors–like intelligent auto-formatting, built-in dictionary and thesaurus, index card overview, scene shuffling, and more. It once costed $79.95, but now it’s completely free!
- RawScripts: RawScripts is a web app that’s designed to help you write your scripts with ease–no more having to fiddle around with formats and spacing. All of it is done online. If you want to collaborate with others, RawScripts allows multiple users to access a script. Files are synchronized on a cloud and everything can be exported in formats that are readable by other desktop scriptwriting software.
- Trelby: Like Celtx, Trelby is free software that aims to help newbie and veteran scriptwriters alike by providing a cost-free scriptwriter. It’s open source and works natively with Windows and Linux. It does everything essential that you’d need for churning out a working script.
- : If nothing in the world of scriptwriting software impresses you, then you’re probably better off sticking with tried-and-true Microsoft Word. Fortunately, Microsoft has released a template that’s specifically designed for scripts and screenplays. It looks professional, it’s free, and it’s available on all versions of Word starting with 2007.
- Screenwriting Info: The absolute best resource on the Internet if you want to know all about script formatting, what to do, and what not to do. There are actually a lot of factors that go into making a readable piece of script, so this is mandatory reading for anyone new to the whole idea of writing for the screen. Also works as a good refresher for intermediate and advanced writers.
- Screenwriting Tips… You Hack: “Because you suck at screenwriting, and I’m here to help.” That’s the tagline of this amazing Tumblr-based resource. Every day (yes, literally) the microblog is updated with a new piece of screenwriting advice that will help you improve your scripts and stories. With over 1,000 tips, you know that this resource is both serious and consistent.
- NaNoWriMo? Script Frenzy is just like it–an international writing event that pits scriptwriters against the personal challenge of having to write 100 pages of scripted material over the course of 30 days. Every year in April, scriptwriters all over the world come together and see what their words are worth. It’s a great way to meet other writers and sharpen your skills. : Ever heard of
- Simply Scripts: If you’re the kind of person who learns by example, then Simply Scripts will be invaluable to you. This website is a free archive of hundreds of scripts, screensplays, and transcripts of everything from movies to television shows to anime and even radio. There are tons of scripts here waiting to be read and analyzed.
- TVTropes: Often lauded as a black hole that sucks away all of your free time, TVTropes is a wiki-based website that catalogues all of the different techniques and tricks that are used in writing–whether it’s short stories, novels, video games, TV shows, or movies. It’s a great way to scope out what’s been done, how it was done, and what’s starting to creep on the edge of cliché.
- Writing Excuses: Writing Excuses is a topical writing podcast that covers everything that could possibly be related to the process of writing. From idea inception to character creation to plothole solving, it talks about all of it. New episodes are released weekly and each episode is 15 minutes long, but with an archive of 7 seasons, it’ll be a long time before you run out of listening material here.
- Genre Hacks: A blog created and led by veteran screenwriter and filmmaker, Sean Hood. He’s best known for his work on horror films, but lately he’s been involved in action-thriller films. In this blog, he writes great posts about the industry and his own experiences as a writer.
- Go Into The Story: This blog is run by Scott Myers who has been involved in writing over 30 projects since 1987. Every day, he updates his blog with multiple posts–sometimes a motivational quote from a famous writer, other times he’ll discuss the various aspects that make a successful story. Definitely worth a look.
- John August: It’d be hard to find a serious screenwriter out there who hasn’t heard of John August and his blog. It’s consistently ranked in the top 5 screenwriting blogs and for good reason–there is a ton of fantastic material here waiting to be consumed. He has hundreds of posts about the writing process, the industry, the pitching, the creation, and more. You’re doing yourself wrong if you don’t read this blog regularly.
- ScriptShadow: ScriptShadow is a blog that reviews the latest scripts floating around Hollywood. He analyzes each script, delving into what makes them spectacular and what makes them fall flat, then gives each one a qualitative grade. This is an excellent resource if you like learning from the mistakes and successes of others laid bare.
- StoryFix: StoryFix is not exactly a scriptwriting blog, but it’s very relevant. The blog has a massive archive of posts that go through the process of story structure. What is it that makes a particular story intriguing? Why do some stories flop while others blow up? How can you replicate such success? Read this blog to find out.