If you are writing scripts – be it for live performance or video – you should really have some sort of script writing software in your arsenal. Many people do not even realize script writing software is available and believe their only option is the trusty word processor. Others know the software is available but don’t see any real advantages to using it.
Final Draft V7.1 brings a lot to the table. One of the best features about this software is the ability to be creative. Final Draft takes care of all the formatting – you simply insert the dialogue! This is by far my favorite feature – simply pressing the TAB button moves you through the various fields (Character Name, Parenthetical, Dialogue, Location, Etc.). Depending upon what field you are entering, the format is taken care of automatically! No longer do you need to worry about indents, spacing, font size, italics, etc. Simply select your field and type away! This one feature takes your creativity to a whole new level.
Ever experience writers block? Frame Forge helps this by integrating tools such as a Character Name Database, Thesaurus, and Dictionary.
Another helpful feature is the auto-recognition feature. Start typing the character name or location and Frame Forge recognizes where you are going and fills it in for you. This accelerates your script writing efficiency ten-fold!
So we’ve looked at the basics – now let’s talk about reporting. This is where Final Draft really shines. With the press of a button you can view how much time a character is on stage, percentage of dialogue, who he/she interacts with, and more! Not only that, let’s say you have a character named “SUSAN” and you want to change it to “BETTY”. A couple of mouse clicks and Final Draft does the rest. It changes the character name, all references to the character, and updates the reporting as well! Do that on your trusty word processor.
Another great feature is the collaboration feature of the software. Multiple people can work on the script online! You can also insert script notes for other writers to review. It’s much like putting sticky notes on paper – this is really a nice feature. It allows others to comment on the script without actually changing it. It is also a nice place to put plot questions and character development notes. So much of the script writing process is a collaborative effort, Final Draft facilitates this in it’s handling of multiple authors on a script.
Final Draft also supports PDF export and works with most popular story board software titles as well.
Yet another fancy tool is the Script Compare. Take multiple saved copies and see what has been added, deleted, and changed. It’s easy to see where you were and where you are.
One of the downfalls that I find is when exiting a report sometimes it’s easy to close the script as well. The software always prompts you before exiting if you need to change, but it’s still annoying. It seems that sometimes you close the report, other times you close the whole script.
Another nice feature that beats the word processor approach is the ability to split the script. Now you can create two panes – the same script is seen in both panes, but different parts. For example, you could have the beginnings of Act I on the left pane and be working on Act III in the right pain. You can then jump back and forth between the two panes for reference. This is a lot easier than scrolling pages and pages up and down to find a reference point.
Final Draft also allows you to assign voices and have the computer ‘read’ your script aloud. I personally didn’t really get into this feature, but it is something that I suppose some people might like.
Overall, Final Draft does what it is meant to do – it makes script writing easier. Be it using multiple authors, integrating script notes, script manipulation, general helps such as names databases, or any of the other great script writing features, Final Draft is a great buy.
I view it like working on a car – sure, you can use a pair of pliers to loosen the bolts or you could use the right size wrench. Both approaches will work (to an extent) but one is a lot faster and cleaner. You’re also not likely to see your ASE certified mechanic using the wrong tool for the job – so why should you?
I strongly recommend the Final Draft product to any church using drama or producing video on a regular basis. For more information and current pricing, visit www.FinalDraft.com