Comics Academy: Scriptwriting Apps / by J. Logan Carey

For our next Comics Academy lesson, let’s talk about apps we can use to work on comic scripts. While you can use any word processing program out there to a plain old notebook to write your story, I've selected a few platforms that are focused on script formats. I've found that for beginning writers, the nuances of writing in script style can sometimes be more overwhelming then creating the story itself. So here are a handful of options you may want to check out for a quick way to dive right into your work.

Here they are in alphabetical order…

Amazon Storywriter (Web)

Amazon Storywriter is essentially a free cloud-based app that provides automatic formatting for screenplays on the Master Scene Standard.

That's fancy talk for it makes writing scripts REALLY easy.

It might not be your permanent solution for what platform you use to write your scripts, but it can be a great learning tool to practice how a script is written. Files can be exported as a PDF, FDX, and Fountain formats. They used to let you submit any scripts written with it directly to Amazon Studios, as of April 2018 this function has been shut down.

Final Draft (macOS / iOS)

Final Draft looks to be a really nice app for script-writing. Files sync via iCloud or Dropbox. At $9.99, it looks like a very affordable option, the desktop version however is priced at a mind-boggling $249.99. So if you were set on using a desktop, I’d use either Pages or Google Docs to save yourself some money.

Highland (macOS)

Highland (now Highland 2) is a very sophisticated looking app that really aims to be a one-stop solution for all your script and screenplay writing needs. The layout is clean and easy to use themes make it comfortable on the eyes for anyone. The built-in goal and stats tracker may be a revelation for those who benefit from a little bit of gamifying in their productive pursuits.

It’s free to download and unlocking the full version is $49.99.

iA Writer (macOS / iOS / Android / Windows)

iA Writer is the definition of simplicity in a writing app. It’s Focus Mode allows you to turn your entire device into a current document view and nothing else. This is really good for those of us who get distracted by browser tabs, notifications, and everything else trying to get your attention. It has it’s own built-in library so you can see all your documents from the app. Your work is stored either in iCloud or Dropbox so you can access it from every device. Night mode is also included. NIGHT MODE EVERYTHING! PDF export is available in all options which is very handy as well as Word format. Text editing functions such as Bold and Italicize appear if you mouse down, very similar to a lot of well-designed web apps.

The iOS and Android versions both run $8.99, however the Android version can be downloaded for free before paying to unlock the full app. The macOS is $29.99 and the Windows version is $19.99.

Screenplay Formatter plugin for Google Docs (Web)

Google Docs is, of course, a free alternative to other word processing apps, but it’s only a blank document. With the Screenplay Formatter plugin for Google Chrome, you can create a script easily with this helpful add-on. It’s free too. Simple enough.

Slugline (macOS / iOS)

An Apple-only app, Slugline is a minimalist platform focus on scriptwriting. One of the key features of Slugline is the ability to simultaneously look at your story outline AND your script. It has an "omit" feature which allows you omit sections of your script without deleting them so you don't have to completely remove those bits you're on the fence about. The omitted sections won't appear in previews or printed versions. It also has a dark mode, something that makes looking at a screen for long periods of time less straining on the eyes. It also comes with templates you can build your script off of. Syncing is done via iCloud or Dropbox.

The macOS version is $39.99 and iOS is $19.99.

Let me know in the comments what your pick for best writing app is! If you have a suggestion that I don’t have listed here, feel free to mention it and I’ll add it to the list!