I purchased Final Draft 11 at educator pricing ($129) only later finding out that the Black Friday price was $99 (educator pricing). Normally, Final Draft is $249. I’m thankful to be an educator as all I had to do was provide a check stub and I was golden.
I have never written a screenplay before, so I will be writing a blog post a week chronicling my experience with the program and its use in writing my very first screenplay. Hopefully you will join along with me as I go, and if you, too, are a first-time screenwriter using the program perhaps you will chime in using the comments section below.
I have discovered about five things I immediately like about Final Draft 11 that set it apart from the other word processors:
Formatting - With Final Draft there is not any guesswork regarding proper formatting. “Freelance Writing” reports that one of the top reasons a script is rejected is due to formatting problems. Final Draft makes formatting easy for you as the only two keys you have to worry about are “tab” and “enter/return”. The rest is pretty automated.
The Beat Board - “No Film School” has a detailed look at the Beat Board, but basically the beat board and story planner are integrated tools that allow you to completely outline and control the “beats” in your film. “Beats” are simply sections of your film that include the backstory, catalyst, big event, midpoint, crisis, showdown and realization. Not only can you keep track of story but you can also color-code the characters so that you can see which characters have scenes with each other and therefore whether or not you need to add more scenes or cut scenes based on character development.
Industry Standard File Format - Final Draft files are in .fdx format which is what most producers and agents use to read a script submitted to them. If they have to convert over to .fdx from, say, Word or something else then it is a hassle only if they pick up your script and want you to revise it from a spec script to a shooting script. Final Draft is the industry standard, and since it also allows you to collaborate with other users in real-time it will make the production process that much more easy once the script moves to filming.
Alternate Dialogue - One thing I love about the program is its ability to store previous dialogue written for each character by scene. You can literally see all the dialogue options you wrote throughout the course of drafting and choose the best dialogue that works for you.
Index Card View - I can plan out my entire script using storyboarding through the index card view. It is easy to plan out scene by scene with summaries of the action, what plot developments need to happen in each, and what character development must occur in each beat.
So far I’ve outlined my entire script and am working on the first few scenes. I hope to have some more finished by next week and will probably write another post about it soon. If you are using Final Draft for the first time or if you are a veteran screenwriter who would like to posit some sage advice, comment in the box below!