“Final Draft makes it so much easier – and it’s motivating when what you’re working on looks like a script.”
– Sofia Coppola
Screenwriting software can simply be understood as word processors that are customized for the task of screenplay writing. They help the writer stick to all the industry guidelines while performing tasks like composition, editing, formatting, writing, and printing scripts for various formats like films, TV series, video games, etc. Generic word processors cannot manage the peculiarities of screenplay writing efficiently.
Some high standard screenwriting applications can also help with production scheduling and budgeting. Final draft is one of the best screenwriting software and has been used by 95% of film and television productions. It was released by Marc Madnick and Ben Cahan in 1990 and since then has gone on to win a Primetime Emmy Engineering Award in 2013 and is famously used by ABC, Pixar, Netflix, Paramount, and many more.
Read on to know about some key features of Final Draft, which make it the most popular screenwriting software of 2020.
Collaboration with your writing partner
“If one could marry a program – or even elope with one – I would choose Final Draft. After all, it has been a wise, patient, and loyal writing partner that has been by my side for almost fifteen years.”
– Guillermo del Toro
Screenwriting is not a one-man job, and it takes multiple people to complete a script. Final Draft makes this possibility of working in tandem with your writing partner true. Version 10 of Final Draft has added the collaborating feature, which makes it possible to share work with your partner in real-time; whether you both are sitting next to each other or in different countries, you can work together on a project.
Formats scripts to current industry standards
The effortless formatting in Final Draft makes you spend less time worrying about formatting and more time working on your ideas and the actual writing. It automatically formats your work according to the current industry standards and saves you the hassle of updating yourself with the current trends. Even when you are formatting yourself, the smart features like shortcuts, autosave, adding title pages, etc., makes the process very easy.
For example, keyboard shortcuts like Tab and Enter allow you to switch between dialogues and other actions quickly. You are saved from the work of minimizing one tab to open the other.
Visually plan important plot points and milestones.
“Final Draft actually makes getting to the final draft faster, easier and more fun than any other screenwriting program I’ve tried. I love it!”
– Nancy Meyers
Easy formatting is not the only advantage of Final Draft, but it also helps you improve your stories by letting you visually plan important plot points and milestones. The newly added features of ‘Story Map’ is an advanced brainstorming space to collect ideas, break them down to form a story, and then organize them into story points and form a ‘Beat Board.’ You can organize these beats into different sequences to understand which works the best, and you can also assign each ‘beat’ a different color.
The beat board allows you to keep track of all the significant plot points so that your story remains coherent. There are some other features also, as a vast character name database to help you pick out your character’s name.
Alternative dialogue versions
“Final Draft is a program made to perform one task with excellence – the writing of a screenplay – by people who support Final Draft users with passion and understanding.”
– James Mangold
This feature was added specially for comedy writers, a feature that lets you add alternative dialogues for every line. Comedy writers always leave space for adding ad-lib in scripts, which they use as and when needed. This feature lets you record all the options which come to your mind when writing or editing.
Final draft intuits what you are working on and then offers appropriate suggestions to make your work easy. For example, you are working on writing dialogues between two characters, James and Samuel; both are alternating between speaking. Final Draft will guess that James will speak after Samuel and will automatically center your next line and use caps to display “JAMES.”
If it is right, all you have to do is hit enter and continue writing your dialogue. In case the suggestion is incorrect, you continue typing what you want, and the software will format it accordingly. This is a very handy feature and not found in other software like Scrivener.
This is a great feature to save time and get done with your project sooner. Just like smartphones now translate speech to words, similarly Final Draft does the same for you. However, this extremely helpful feature is only offered to Mac users, as its functionality is compatible with Mac’s inbuilt dictation feature.
100 different templates to choose from
“Even if you don’t own a computer, I recommend buying Final Draft.”
– JJ Abrams
Final Draft is one of the few software which has an extensive database of professional templates to choose from. All the templates are structured in a user-friendly way, which allows the writer to navigate quickly between the script and the storyboard. Additionally, if you do not wish to use the in-built templates, you can also easily import your customized templates like novel templates, TV series templates, stage play templates, etc.
All these in-built templates are compatible with Windows, OSX, and iOS. You will not have to face the difficulty of preparing a new template altogether in case you have to switch the system you are working on.
The many advantages of Final Draft, like being easy to use, its user-friendly features, the ability for real-time collaboration with partners, extensive development tools, numerous inbuilt templates, easy formatting, etc., make it one of the most popular screenwriting software. The only disadvantage of it being pricy is easily overshadowed by its numerous benefits. Hence, if you are thinking about subscribing to Final Draft, do not think too much and go ahead to make this valuable investment.