On Thursday I finally broke down and purchased “Final Draft”, a program for writing screenplays. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting my journey using the program from a real-world, first-time-user, first-time-writing-a-screenplay point of view. I’ll be exploring the program’s pros and cons as I work through writing a screenplay for the Austin Film Festival contest.
I thought I’d write this blog post to illustrate why I actually paid for a specific screenwriting program when I’ve used Scrivener for years to write novels. Sure, Scrivener has a screenwriting and a teleplay template built-in, but I have three solid reasons why I saved up and dropped the money on the barrelhead for the software.
Mind you, I was able to purchase the program at educator pricing because I am a teacher. All I had to do was provide a check stub to Final Draft and they let me buy it for $129. It normally runs $249, so I figure I got a good deal. I’m so glad that they offer education pricing.
So here are the reasons:
Final Draft Is Industry Standard - I shopped around for a lot of programs. Don’t get me wrong. I love Scrivener. It’s great for writing and organizing a novel. But all agents and producers use Final Draft to read screenplays sent to them. The program has its own file format. Scrivener will convert to this file format, but if the producer or agent accepts the screenplay and then asks me to revise the screenplay Scrivener will not convert back from Final Draft.
The Formatting Is Correct - I have done some comparisons between Scrivener, Adobe, and even the free screenwriting software found on Amazon Storywriter (even though Amazon is no longer accepting unsolicited scripts). What I found was that Final Draft is the only program that easily formats your screenplay to industry standards following the rules laid out in David Trottier’s “Screenwriter’s Bible”. If there is one thing production companies hate it’s a poorly formatted screenplay. I wanted to make sure I had the best chance for success.
Unique Bells and Whistles - Scrivener has some great planning and drafting tools that help a novelist structure and plan out their novel. It allows a writer to create character bios, store notes, flip plot points around on a cork board, and various other lovely little gems. However, Final Draft is specifically designed for screenwriting. It contains such features as a beat board which allows a screenwriter to plan out the beats in the screenplay which is crucial to a winning screenplay. Tools also allow a screenwriter to see how many scenes two characters have together, whether or not a scene runs too long, and tools that allow a writer at a glance to hone the screenplay down to something that is highly marketable and presentable to a producer or agent. The point is that Final Draft is designed specifically for the screenwriter.
Click the feed link below if you want to follow my journey in using Final Draft. I’ll post weekly observations about the use of the program and I’ll be brutally honest about my progress. Sure, you can find a lot of videos online about using the program that are meant to sell it, but I’ll be straight with you about it from the perspective of someone who is writing his first screenplay.