I do my writing in MS Word.

I must incorporate some theater-like scenes into a book. In the theater-like scenes, there will be three to five characters speaking lines. Very, very occasionally a tiny bit of narration.

Do I need different software, or maybe a Word plugin?

  • why would the software make any difference? You can write in Word, Scrivener, Text Edit, Notepad, LibreOffice, pencil and paper, crayon, or coal on the back of a shovel. The only concern is the end product and how it will be handed off to whomever else needs to see it. Feb 11, 2017 at 13:26
  • @LaurenIpsum - I heard an interview with a writer for a hit television program on NPR Fresh Air, and the writer said that when she was hired, she had to learn some special word processing software for writing dialogue. // Can you say some more about your last phrase, how the end product will be handed off to whomever else needs to see it? Feb 11, 2017 at 23:39
  • I am not aware of special software for writing dialogue, so that's news to me. Are you sure she meant software and not "formatting"? Because there are special rules about formatting dialogue — centered, with the person's name above it in all-caps, etc. If there's software which makes that easier, maybe that's what she meant. I didn't hear the interview. Feb 12, 2017 at 2:16
  • Re "end product": I was being facetious. You obviously can't submit a play to a theatre director written in coal on the back of a shovel. It has to be an editable file, or a printout of one. From my perspective, you can write in Word, Scrivener, or InDesign. If you can produce a PDF, and the publisher wants a PDF, you're good. If the publisher wants a Word file, you can export one from Scrivener or InDesign, but you don't have to write in Word if you don't want to. Feb 12, 2017 at 2:18
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    @LaurenIpsum - I'm not writing a play or a script. I'm writing a book but some sections come from a legal transcript. I'm trying to figure out how to format them to make the reading easy. The court reporter did some fancy formatting (they have software that makes that easier) but there's a tremendous amount of indenting and that really adds to the number of pages. // I did some googling. I think the interview was talking about Final Draft. // It looks like I'll end up defining some styles.... Feb 12, 2017 at 7:19

3 Answers 3


Another free alternative is Trelby available for Windows and Linux.

A free, multiplatform, feature-rich screenwriting program!

Trelby is simple, fast and elegantly laid out to make screenwriting simple. It is infinitely configurable.

Another paid alternative is Fade In available for multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone/iPad, and Android.)

It features support for multiple languages, tools for outlining, organizing, and navigating, plus extensive screenplay formatting and robust functionality for managing rewrites and revisions.


I use Scrivener. The key difference to Word is that it allows you to structure your text better. You can divide it in sections and move around, if you want.

I started to use it for writing fiction, but now I tend to use it for other documents as well because that structuring makes my thinking clearer and faster.

It also has scriptwriting features, but I haven't used them. You may want to download a free trial version and check them for yourself.


For what you want to do, script writing, you have several options, paying or free.

The best paying software truly specialized is Final draft It is a quite old soft, very well planned and relatively easy to use, but come with a price. For what I know it was at a time a kind of de facto standard in the industry, if that means something.

The best free option I am aware of is CeltX It is also quite an old software now, so you have a certain maturity. I use a pretty old version, never upgraded but when I was using it, it was a fairly decent free version of Final Draft (got some quirks here and there)

If you use either LibrOffice or OpenOffice you have a decent plugin Organon that you can find useful.

You can also simply use "template" for Microsoft Word, LibrOffice and OpenOffice. They are that said generally more limited than Celtx or FinalDraft.

Remind that at the end of the day the tools you are using do not so much matter. What you want is the job done, if you have a pretty good enough mastery of Word doing a script template is a matter of 5 minutes. For writing a whole script (movie or theatre) Final draft/Celtx are certainly profitable but just for occasional stuff, Word is quite powerful. Here is a decent explanation of how to have some script writing function in Word.

  • The Dramatist's Guild website has several options for play formatting, hard to find from their website but Google shows a few options including a modern play format example page. I've heard some differences of opinion about what font to use, but in a book you can always use Courier (the "typewriter font" to set these scenes apart. Feb 16, 2017 at 22:04

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