Best Free Linux Script Writing Tools (Updated 2018)

Last Updated on May 26, 2022

Script writing is the art and craft of writing scripts for the general public. The script can take the form of musicals, plays, novels, films, television programmes, and more. Each time you watch a show on television, visit the cinema, or read a book you are consuming the trials and tribulations of a script writer.

Script writing software is not designed to make writing judgments such as avoiding the use of cliches, jargon, and journalese, nor does it help with the rhythm and balance of the piece. Instead this type of software concentrates on helping the writer to present the text in an appropriate format.

If you have your heart set on writing a Broadway script, a Hollywood screenplay, or a best selling novel, good script writing software will save precious time. Unfortunately, there is currently a miserly selection of mature, open source script writing software available for Linux. Heavyweights in this category of software are Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriters, Celtx, and Fade In, industry-standard screen writing applications. However, they are commercial software and only Fade In is available for Linux. However, the Linux community has mustered credible open source alternatives.

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 10 competent free Linux script writing programs. They include some powerful editors, tools, a document class, a plug-in, and a language. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for any budding script writer.

As you can see from the chart below, we give our strongest recommendations to KIT Scenarist and Foundation. Please note the rating relates solely to the software’s script writing ability. For example, LyX is an awesome document processor based on the LaTeX typesetting system. As a document processor, it’s one of the finest open source solutions.


Now, let’s explore the 10 script writing tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot, together with links to relevant resources.

Script Writing Tools
FountainPlain text markup language for screenwriting
KIT ScenaristFully-featured studio for creating movie screenplays
TrelbySimple, powerful, full-featured program for writing movie screenplays
PagoScreenwriting plugin for the Vim text editor
Screenwriter-modeA plug-in for Emacs
BarefootConvert Fountain screenplay files to plain text
LyXThe Hollywood document class equips LyX for script writing
AfterwritingPost-processing tools for Fountain screenplay
ScreenplainPlain text to readable screenplay
ManuskriptUse the snowflake method to grow your ideas
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

I use the JOE editor (Jstar – WordStar-like variant) to write in Fountain syntax, then use Screenplain to convert to PDF (or Final Draft), then (if I want formatted text) I use the pdftotext utility with the -layout option. It’s “cleaner” to do this then use Barefoot (at least it is on my system, I found myself continually trying to adjust Barefoot). I’ve also used ‘afterwriting to convert Fountain to PDF, but it takes more arguments and I’m lazy – besides, the output is the same as with Screenplain. (I love to use ‘afterwriting’s website and its download to offline browser features, however.) I find it’s easy to adjust Screenplain’s “strong” feature just by tweaking the Python code. I realize Fade In Pro is a commercial product but it does use the Open Screenplay Format (XML). I like Fountain better.