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Saturday, October 01, 2016

As soon as I get back to writing script pages (as opposed to barks), I'm going to be trying out Final Draft 10. There are two main script formatting programs, Final Draft and Screenwriter. (There's also CeltX, which is free, but I don't know any pros who use it.)

I have friends who swear by Screenwriter (and at Final Draft!). Personally, I've always found Final Draft easier and more intuitive to use. It's probably not an accident that Final Draft started out as a Mac program and Screenwriter started out on PC. Screenwriter is powerful once you learn how to use it, but you have to just somehow know that, for example, the way to get a parenthetical is to type an open parenthesis at the beginning of a line of dialog.

Or read the manual, I suppose. Crazy, right?

The people who make Final Draft have just come out with Final Draft 10, the latest edition of the 25-year-old software. It has some neat tricks:

Alt Dialog

You can now hide alt dialog lines right in the script. You can have three versions of a line of dialog, and quickly switch between them. Handy if you're punching up a script.

This is really neat.

Beat Board

Final Draft 9 had index cards based on your formatted script. Each scene in Script View turned into an index card in Scene Navigator view. You could shuffle your index cards around.

However, unless your screen is much bigger than mine, you rarely have enough real estate to see all your index cards. I've wound up printing them out and moving them around on the kitchen table.

Beat Board is a more sophisticated way of viewing your whole story. You have a scene timeline; you can hang your scenes on the timeline, and quickly view them. You can color code them, for example if you want to track dramatic beats vs. action bears, or two subplots. Being able to view the whole timeline makes it easier to see if your structure is unbalanced.

Collaboration Tools

At Compulsion, we have a lot of shared Google Documents. I share the encounter dialog with the level designers and the audio people. That way we can track a line from writing to recording to editing to integration.

Up till now, the only way to co-write a script in Final Draft is to email versions back and forth. That's the way I prefer to work. But when you go over the script on the phone (did you know phones can be used for talking?), only one person can talk. FD 10 allows several writers to open the same script and edit it at the same time, just like you can with a Google Doc.

Now, this is not a proper review of FD 10. The folks at Final Draft were kind enough to give me a review copy, but as it happens, I am doing everything at the moment except writing dialog pages. I'm helping a game cast an actor. I'm writing barks. I'm editing audio. So I'm going to have to wait until I'm back to dialog pages before I can tell you how well all these handy new tools work. Tune in later!


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