In the past, screenwriters labored over a typewriter, a word processor, or a word processing program, manually formatting entire scripts from beginning to end. Today, software specifically tailored to the needs of the screenwriter is available. Whether you’re writing soaps, dramas, sitcoms, feature films, or even a senior film project, a program such as Final Draft 5.0 frees you from the repetitive chores of formatting and allows you to concentrate on your content instead.
To create a new file, choose one of the templates: Half-Hour Sitcom, One-Hour TV Drama, Screenplay, Screenplay (Cole & Haag Format), Screenplay (Warner Bros. Format), or Stageplay. Then simply type your content into the appropriate fields in the template. But Final Draft delivers more than just templates for your original material. If you plan to submit a spec script for one of your favorite TV shows, it provides a great added resource: 59 template scripts for popular shows such as Ally McBeal , General Hospital , Will & Grace , and The X-Files .
If you’re new to screenwriting, the bundled templates and sample film script provide a helpful guide to structure, while text templates for outlines, query letters, and treatments (formal summaries of your screenplay) supply you with the tools to complete the process. Furthermore, the 58-page user manual is straightforward and easy to use. It contains tutorials to get you started and a glossary of terminology-so you know the difference between a Long Shot and an Extreme Long Shot and how such terms figure into the body of a screenplay.
Screenwriting requires typing scene headers, character names, and other repeating elements. Final Draft 5.0 eliminates this repetition. Each time you hit the enter or return key while in a template, a window containing a list of options appears. In the Screenplay template, for example, you’ll see the following options: General, Scene Heading, Action, Character, Parenthetical, Dialog, Transition, and Shot. After choosing one, you simply type in your content. You can also access these elements on the tool bar or by using key commands. Additionally, Final Draft’s SmartType lists and macros allow you to create shortcuts for content such as character names and scene headings. You can also easily import and instantly format files written in other word processing programs. All of these features eliminate significant amounts of repetitive typing by allowing you to customize actions according to your current project.
The Big Picture
One of the most challenging parts of writing a screenplay is arranging all 120 pages into a cohesive story. Final Draft 5.0’s Scene Navigator view mode breaks up each scene into index cards on the screen for easy review, and it also provides an outline of your screenplay. In the Scene Navigator mode, you can shuffle scenes and the body of the screenplay will instantly reflect those changes.
Final Draft 5.0 also provides you with a useful set of reference tools, including a thesaurus, a spelling checker, and a names database containing over 90,000 names to help you create your characters. Moreover, it also offers some unique features that allow you to work online with a remote partner, have the computer read dialog aloud, save documents in Rich Text Format (so they can be read by those without Final Draft), and e-mail your documents. Finally, the program offers a convenient backup feature that allows you to save and track different versions of the same document.
In addition to Final Draft 5.0, Final Draft now offers Final Draft AV, software designed exclusively for writing multicolumn scripts for television and radio advertising, training films, corporate videos and presentations, and documentaries.