I write a great deal about freeware because this is such a great era for free tools, with many powerful options out there for all types of projects. That is not to say you should never pay for the tools you use, however. In some cases, premium programs pay back with functionality what you put in them with cash.
Premium Feature Sets
As a storyteller, for instance, I benefit from the bevy of options offered by tools that I (gasp!) pay for:
- Cloud backup
- Support for online collaboration
- Stored and organized draft/revision history
- Simple writing interfaces
- Extensive note-taking options
- Verified acceptable formatting for professional audiences (because Hollywood producers don’t read chicken scratch)
- Urge to legitimize purchase of a premium tool by actually using it, thus forcing one to write even when one doesn’t really feel like doing so
There are many free tools out there that offer some of the capabilities exhibited above, like the very powerful Google Drive suite. However, the power inherent in bringing all of that functionality (as well as a few extra goodies) together is totally worth paying for.
Scrivener – $45
Scrivener is the bee’s knees of storytelling software, and I will try to cover up the fact that it is my favorite. With Scrivener, you get: A beautiful, simplified writing interface which will not distract you with needless formatting options; an incredible organizational framework for organizing drafts, revisions, notes, and more; and extensive export options. The one thing Scrivener lacks is support for online collaboration.
Celtx – $9/month
Celtx offers template functionality, and collaborative support, for just about any writing project you could want to take on. You can build screenplays, stage plays, audio plays, novels, comics, sketches, and more. Additionally, Celtx has recently begun experimenting with tools to support the production process for media-rich projects, including budget- and calendar-features that make collaboration with large teams all the more feasible.
Final Draft – $200
Final Draft is the industry-standard drafting tool for screenplays, and while it doesn’t offer the numerous formatting options that Celtx and Scrivener offer, it excels at the penultimate item in the set-list up above: Whatever you make in Final Draft will meet the formatting standards of Hollywood producers. That is worth the investment by itself.