Scriptwriting Software (That Won’t Break The Bank)

When it comes to writing comic scripts, there’s no “one program fits all” answer. The reason for this is because scriptwriting software tends to cater to the stage or the big screen. Times are changing, however. Recently, there was a Kickstarter (successfully funded!) that promised to produce a program designed for comic book writers. It’s called ComiXwriter, and it’s slated for release in April/May of this year. Exciting news for comic writers everywhere!

For now, there’s no dedicated scriptwriting program for comic books. But all is not lost! While waiting for ComiXwriter to arrive, I’ve put together a list of excellent scriptwriting programs that won’t take a hatchet to your wallet.



Platforms: MacOS and Windows(Beta)

Cost: $40

Scrivener is my favorite writing program ever, hands down. It’s filled with insanely helpful tools (compilers, exporting to exotic filetypes, automatic eBook conversion, etc.) as well as plenty of pre-programmed templates that allow you to easily switch the format from script to novel. Its scriptwriting templates range considerably, from “BBC Radio Dramas,” to “Screenplay.” Most relevant to the comic author is the inclusion of the “Comic Book Script” template. Created by Antony Johnston, this template was adapted from Johnston’s homemade “Final Draft” template and ported into Scrivener. Johnston provides plenty of helpful resources on his website, ranking this template among the best for writing comics.



Platforms: It’s browser-based.

Cost: Free!

PlotBot is an extremely cool scriptwriting program that never leaves your internet browser. This allows you to harness the power of online collaboration similar to an app like Google Docs. You can write a script, save it to your account, and then release it to the PlotBot public servers where other writers can come and review your work. If you do so, I recommend that you preface the script with a note, one which states that it is intended for a comic rather than a screenplay. You can choose to make your script publicly editable so that friends can work on the document alongside you. The script has a built-in copyright statement as well, offering protection from thieves.

Adobe Story


Platforms: MacOS and Windows

Cost: Free! (There’s also a paid version, but chances are you won’t need it).

If you subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, then Adobe Story might be the ticket for you. It’s included in one of the Creative Cloud packages, but is also available to non-subscribers. Much like PlotBot, Adobe Story is browser-based, meaning you can access your script wherever you go. The free version of the software has the basic essentials, offering hotkeys and formatting shortcuts similar to what other screenwriting programs offer. The paid version, Adobe Story+, isn’t all that useful for comic scripts. Story+ is geared towards filmmakers, allowing them to schedule shooting days and micromanage between “Final Cut” and “Story.” Stick with the free version.




Platforms: Windows and Linux

Cost: Free!

Trelby is a sleek, open-source scriptwriting program that works across all operating systems. It has the features of paid screenwriting programs, but affords infinitely more customization. Because it’s open-source, you can alter the coding behind the program (if that’s your thing). It also has a cool reporting feature, one which deconstructs the scenes you’ve written and lists the number of times certain characters appear. But my favorite thing about Trelby is that you can see previous versions of scripts, allowing you to travel back in time and unearth discarded gold. If you have memory problems (like me) and forget what you wrote, the revision feature of Trelby is a godsend.

And plenty more!

If you’ve got the cash to burn, there are a number of superior scriptwriting programs (Final Draft, Celtx, etc.) that will give you more bang for your buck. Yet the advanced features of such programs aren’t that necessary for comic book writers. Features like the ability to create production timelines, manage prop lists, and schedule shooting days — essentially useless for our purposes. But if you must get the best, check out the link and see if something tickles your fancy!

 Also, check out Matt O’Keefe’s article  on ComicsBeat.com about scriptwriting programs that you can use to create comic scripts. His article even contains links to pretty rad templates for programs you might already own!


6 Responses to “Scriptwriting Software (That Won’t Break The Bank)”

  1. Arnie

    Hold on there hoss. Adobe creative cloud a is a “subscription” service. So technically this would not be free. Sorry to point that out, not liking CC.
    Anyway, i thought this was insightful. even though i don’t write, persay it great to know there are innovative programs being created specifically for comics. Instead of jerry-rigging something together.

    Thanks again.

    • Kevin

      Aye the creative cloud has a subscription, but if you just sign up for an adobe account (which is free), you get access to Adobe Story. I tested it out just to make sure =)

    • Kevin

      Oh no! Something must have happened to it! I’ll update the article so nobody else goes there and leaves disappointed.

  2. Margaret Trauth

    Personally, I write my current project in Evernote, my sketchbook, and directly on the page in Illustrator.

    Sketchbook scrawlings get photographed and dumped into Evernote, so I always have them handy – EN synchs to the cloud, and has clients for the web, iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows.

    None of these tools explicitly support a “script” format; my scripts are pretty freeform. Which suits this comic; I have a definite place I’m going, but the structural experiments I’m doing mean I have to do a lot of finessing of my dialogue to make it fit the way the panels are laid out.

    I’m playing with writing my next comic before doing any art; I’ve got it in Scrivener and am enjoying its capabilities for organizing a large document.

    • Kevin

      Nothing beats a good old fashioned notebook and a pencil. It gets hard to share around, however, when the time comes for sending off to editors.

      Every one of these programs does actually support a script format. Not a “comic book script” per se, but script formatting is there. In fact, all of them (save Scrivener) are solely scripting programs.

      I’m doing the same thing with my comic. I’ve got over 200 pages written and absolutely no art drawn whatsoever. I feel like my script is so rough that, were I to start drawing, I’d be forced to re-draw too much once the script hit the editing stage.


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