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Final Draft 7.1 - Be a Super-Hit Scriptwriter

written by: Haresh Khemani•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/5/2011

Final Draft 7 is an excellent tool for both aspiring scriptwriters and experts. It lets you concentrate on your writing, whether for movies, television, or stage, and not lose your focus having to deal with formatting. Final Draft also provides tools and guidance to make your script more effective.

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    If you are an aspiring scriptwriter, Final Draft 7 offers excellent tools that help you write your script per the industry standards for format and style, and that also teach you how to write a great script.

    Established writers who have been using MS Word or another word processor for writing scripts will find that Final Draft reduces most of the burdens of formatting. You no longer have to deal with issues like changing the margins and paragraph styles when you have to write a scene, character, or dialogue. With Final Draft 7 you can concentrate completely on your creative side.

    While Final Draft 7 is essentially a word processor, it is specially designed to easily write scripts in the industry standard format. [See Image 1] As you write the script, it is automatically paginated and you can easily make any formatting changes as per your requirements. The best part is you won’t need any special skills to use the software as it is a simple word processor and there are number of tutorials to help you.

    I’m not a professional scriptwriter, but I have written a few short scripts for small plays. I always found it difficult to mark the differences between the characters, their dialogue, the scenes, and my personal comments. When I first read about Final Draft 7, I had doubts about how a software product could help me write a script. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Final Draft's ease of use and the various functions it offers. (See Image 2)

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    Price to Value

    Rating Average

    What's Hot:

    Initially you may think the price of Final Draft 7, which is $229, is on the high side, thinking that it is merely a word processor and that better office software can be purchased at this price tag or a bit higher. But perhaps you have read some positive reviews of Final Draft, and so despite the price tag, you the scriptwriter, purchase the software.

    If you're like me, you will soon realize that it’s worth paying that amount for such a useful piece of software. The features and facilities that it provides help reduce lots of unnecessary formatting burdens. You can now concentrate more on writing creative screenplays and not on how they are formatted. Further, the software contains lots of guidance, tips, and insights from expert screenplay writers.

    I have always believed that software designed for professionals that really increases their productivity and efficiency is worth the purchase price. For the professional, if the software saves even a few seconds and a little bit of effort, it's worth it, as he or she can utilize this saved time and effort for more creative activities.

    If you are still not sure you want to purchase Final Draft, you can download the demo version, which carries all the functions and features but comes with the limitation that you cannot save scripts of more than 15 pages.

    What's Not:

    Because there are no other competing software products for scriptwriters on the market, the price of Final Draft 7 is a bit on the high side.

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    Installation & Setup

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    What's Hot:

    The installation and setup of Final Draft are very easy and free of hassles. The size of the software is about 30 MB and you need to have Pando software to download the Final Draft 7 package. Except for registration, no other questions are asked and within few seconds you are ready to use it. The Final Draft 7 CD-ROM comes with installers for both Windows and Mac systems.

    What's Not:

    I was surprised to see the Final Draft download available via Pando. Luckily I had it installed in my computer, but it was an old version, so it took some time to first update Pando itself before it started downloading Final Draft. The company could have avoided this unnecessary step.

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    User Interface

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    What's Hot:

    When you first open Final Draft 7, you will see its interface is familiar, as it looks very much like any other word processor. [See Images 1 and 2] Of course, you will find a number of additional menus and tools. Understanding all the menus and tools is quite easy as most of the icons are self-explanatory and intuitive. If you don’t understand how to use certain features, the Help menu gives instructions in clear and a detailed manner.

    What's Not:

    When you first open Final Draft 7, you will also be disappointed by the old-fashioned look of its user interface. The user interface graphics have not been updated to the present quality of word processors such as Word 2007 or even Word 2003. There is no sleekness or smoothness. The general feeling I had was of typing on a typewriter that had some advanced features.

    In a time when most word processor developers are trying to reduce the use of menus, Final Draft seems to have added a number of additional menus. I would expect more from the company as far as Fnal Draft's graphics and smoothness are concerned. Since the company is charging such a high amount for the software, it should spend more resources to design graphics with a modern look.

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    Rating Average

    What's Hot:

    I tried writing a small script about a few friends and it turned out to be a breeze. Never before this was I able to write a script so quickly. There was no bother at all about formatting. All I had to do was to make up scenes, characters, and dialogue in my mind and they came seamlessly to the screen. The pop-up window that enables selecting various options of a script (i.e., the character, scenes, etc.) turned out to be the highlight of the software. I could clearly feel the difference of writing in Final Draft 7 as I could concentrate more on my scenes and characters and their dialogue instead of formatting the script as per the industry standards. I felt as if a great burden had been removed from my head, giving space for more creativity.

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    Product Features

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    What's Hot:

    Writing scripts for movies, television episodes, and stage plays has never been as easy. Final Draft is an easy-to-use package that combines the power of the word processor with professional scriptwriting tools. You don’t have to learn about the industry standard script formatting, as Final Draft automatically paginates and formats the script as per the standards. You do what you are best suited for, while Final Draft does what it is best suited for. You can change the font, style, size, alignment as per your choice (see Image 1).

    The most prominent feature of Final Draft is Set Element, which helps you write the script as per the industry standard (see Image 3). This feature is available in the form of small window with pop-up menu from the Script toolbar (see Image 4).The option of Scene Heading in this pop-up menu enables you to write the heading of the scene. The Action option enables you to write the action in proper format.

    The Character option enables you to write the name of the character as per the standards, while with the Dialogue option you can write the script's dialogue. If you wish to write something in parentheses, select the option Paranthetical. You can make use of the Transition option to move to the next scene. The beautiful thing about these options is that you don’t have to go to the top of the window all the time to select an option. Every time you move to a new paragraph, a small pop-up window containing all of these options opens in the body of a main window, and from here you can select any option (see Image 5).

    As you write the names of the characters, the software remembers them. When you type the first few characters of these names, the Smart Type pop-up window opens with the matching names (see Image 6). You can select the name of your choice from here without having to type it again and again. As you type your script, the page number is inserted automatically. If while writing the script you want to make a note, you can select the option of New ScriptNote. This enables to you write a note at any point in the script that will not be printed in the hard copy (see Image 7).

    If you have to move to certain scenes or characters or any other location of the script again and again, you can bookmark it (see Image 8). One of the very interesting tools of Final Draft 7 is the ability to assign voices to various characters. With this you can assign voices of different sexes (see Image 9) and pitches (see Image 10) to your characters and listen to them (see Image 11) as if your characters are performing on the screen or on the stage. The View menu enables you to view your script in various ways (see Image 12).

    The script can be saved in different formats, such as FDR, RTF, TXT, PDF, etc. If you have the script written in another word processor, like MS Word, you can readily import it to Final Draft without having to type it again. You can open the Final Draft files in the Final Draft AV version, which enables you write the scripts in an easy manner. You can create reports of the script as per the scene, location, character, and others (see Image 13). With CollaboWriter, you can share your script with other Final Draft owners on the Internet in the real-time manner and make changes. If you need a proper name for your character, there is a database of names (see Image 14). Final Draft comes with additional application named “Ask the Expert." It carries guidance, tips, and insights from the experts (see Image 15). There are also a number of templates to help you create the scripts (see Image 16).

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    Final Draft Main WindowSample ScriptSet ElementSet Element Pop-down MenuSet Element Pop-down Menu in Main WindowSmartType FunctionScriptNoteBookmarksAssign VoicesAssign Voices with Different Pitch & SpeedPlaying the SpeechViewing the Script in Various WaysCharacter ReportNames DatabaseAsk the ExpertScript Template
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    Suggested Features

    • The graphics of the user interface should be improved. It should be given modern looks.
    • The software should run more smoothly.
    • Like the latest word processors (such as MS Word 2007 and Corel WordPerfect), more functions of the software should come outside of the menus.
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    Final Draft 7 is a must-have piece of software for aspiring scriptwriters and experts alike. The software rids you of the burdens of formatting the script as per the industry standards, so you can concentrate on your creativity. Though it may seem high price-wise, it is worth it, as Final Draft 7 saves lots of your time and effort. Additionally, it provides lots of tools and guidance to make your script more effective and who knows, maybe the next big hit.