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Once upon a time, screenwriting was a labor-intensive vocation. And that labor was hardly confined to the age-old challenges of storytelling. "Just the sheer physical pain-in-the-ass quality of typing out a script in script format, with all the tabs, indents, caps and all that, probably kept 90% of people from writing a screenplay because the whole thing was so hard," said writer and former "Cheers" show-runner Rob Long.
Screenwriting programs like Final Draft and Write I Brothers" Movie Magic helped change all that. Write Brothers veep Chris Huntley, who co-developed and sold the first scripting software nearly 30 years ago, said laughingly of the woes of script formatting, "We're in business because of page breaks."
Over the past few decades Write Brothers' Movie Magic Screenwriter has been the Pepsi to Final Draft's Coke in the screenwriting software aisle. With the exception of the niche occupied by Celtx, an open-source, all-in-one screenwriting and production package, the two companies have all but dominated the field.
Recently, however, Scripts Pro, ScriptWrite, Million Dollar Screenwriting and Scripped.com have popped up. And while none appear ready to overturn the big boys anytime soon, they could develop into significant competition down the road.
Some of these programs are free or subscription browser-based apps, many of which come with ready-made writer communities, virtual collaboration and instant messaging. Others are mobile apps that …