Final Draft 5.0 is a word processing program that is specifically
designed for screenwriting. While it contains the common formatting
tools of an average word processing program such as a thesaurus
and spell checker, its real power is in its ability to save
the writer time by saving him keystrokes when formatting a screenplay.
The real strength of Final Draft over a normal word processor
is its ability to aid the writer in formatting their script
as they write it. To create a characters name, simply push tab
once. The cursor will immediately be indented the perfect amount
for a character and capitalized. Type the character's name and
push return, and the cursor will be indented for dialogue. Type
the dialogue and push return again, the cursor will be back
to the left ready for action. It is very effective and extremely
Final Draft automatically recognizes "int." and "ext."
as slug lines and auto-completes the line as you type in the
scene location. In addition to auto-completing and saving scene
lists, it does the same for character names. Final Draft is
a very useful tool because it helps the writer focus on writing
instead of thinking about formatting.
Navigation and bookmarks.
Scripts can get very big. Final Draft helps the writer his
way by offering three navigation tools: Index Card Tool, Outline
Tool, and Bookmarks. Selecting the Index Card Tool opens up
a new window and divides it into scene sections allowing you
to get the big picture in a small view. The second tool is an
Outline tool, which basically shows the slug line of each scene
and the first sentence. Both tools also allow you to jump through
the script by clicking on a specific index card or the slug
line when using the outline tool.
One of the many helpful features of Final Draft are the downloadable
Final Draft templates. The templates include 50 specifically
formatted examples of television shows and are downloadable
from the Final Draft website. The templates are extremely useful
and intuitive to someone who is wishing to become involved in
the screenwriting industry. In addition to being individually
formatted for each show, each template comes with show specific
notes that educate the user on the number of pages/scenes the
script will generally run.
The bottom line.
Final Draft has long been considered the industry standard
among industry professionals. Consequently, this program probably
has the largest installed base. Only recently in the last couple
of years have other competitors made a serious attempt. One
of its competitors is Screenwriter 2000.
Final Draft and its main competitor (Screenwriter 2000) are
essentially the same. The way they differentiate themselves
is in their execution of certain extras. Both have auto formatting,
reporting, Internet collaboration, and overview navigation tools.
While the competition may allow more control over adjusting
some formatting options, Final Draft achieves all the control
that is necessary.
While both Final Draft and the competition come with specific
television script templates, Final Draft has gone the extra
mile by including even more additional written tips to help
you emulate the show you wish to write a script for. In the
end, it just comes down to personal preference, feel and what
your screenwriting friends are already using. -B.M.