Writer’s Notebook: Formatting Software: Final Draft

I love to write. I often use my notebook and a pen. Things end up scribbled all over the place. Of course, we are long past the days where we turn in our homework handwritten. We have to type. This often means formatting as well.

As a screenwriter I have to format my scripts to industry standards. When I first began I discovered a program free called Celtx. This is an open source application available to both Mac and PC users.

I was excited to have my software. I wrote and wrote. Things were fine for my undergraduate playwriting course. I didn’t have to set margins like one does with Word or Pages. It remembered my characters’ names. But, like most newbies I had plenty of mistakes. I went on to study screenwriting for my Masters degree. I learned what mistakes I made, and even better I have an easy way to fix them. Ladies and gentlemen let me introduce you to Final Draft.

This lovely piece of software I had heard about for years. I always wanted it. But, I had the free stuff, which was working just fine, so I never made the plunge. But it is worth the money.

Here are some of the features I like about Final Draft.

Templates
Final Draft has templates available for you to use. Formatting differs for a television script and a film script.

To find the appropriate template go to File->New From Stationary->Stationary Categories. Select the appropriate template.

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It lists shows in alphabetical order.

Revisions
Another great feature is revision. I find the revision mode helpful. I can keep track of what I wrote the first time, the second time, and so forth. You can color code your revisions as well. I also like to change the symbol.

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To put your script in revision mode go to Production->Revision Mode

To change the color, date, and symbol go to Production->Revisions
Enter in the appropriate information.

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Location Reports
It is important to have consistency in the script. I use the location report to make sure all of my screen headings (or sluglines) are formatted the same way. If too much of your action takes place in the same location the report can help you see that.

To generate a location report go to Tools->Reports->Location Report

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This is what one will look like.

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Of course Final Draft has many features. Be sure to check out the website for tutorials or to purchase.

Enjoy your writing and when you need a break chat with me at http://www.twitter.com/caramelsarajo

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