Tech Tips: Alternate Dialogue
August 30, 2019
You’re not sure whether the most hilarious comeback line to use is “So’s your mother!” or “I know you are but what am I?” You think the kid should say “I want my two dollars” but your writing partner believes “You owe me two dollars” is far better. You can’t decide if Sue should say “Yes, of course I’ll marry you” or “Fine, whatever.” What do you do?
Put both in.
Final Draft 11 offers a feature called Alternate (Alt) Dialogue, which enables you to enter an unlimited number of speeches in one location so that you can decide later which one to use or even have your actors do additional takes with different lines. The Alternate Dialogue feature stores multiple line choices without increasing your page count or confusing the reader.
In the top menu, go to View > Show Alts and to the right of the dialogue paragraph in which the cursor is located, you’ll see a plus-sign icon. Click the icon to hide the dialogue that was there and in that space you can type in a different line:
Click the left- or right-pointing arrow to the left of the dialogue to display, one by one, the alternates you’ve typed, or click the numbers between the arrows to display the lines in a menu:
When you’ve decided on the right line, you can (if you want to) delete the others when they’re displayed by clicking the minus-sign icon on the right; when you print or save as PDF, only the current alt will be on the outputted page.
Use the Alternate Dialogue feature to fine-tune your dialogue or give your actors more choices. It’s a great tool for ensuring that your characters are delivering the best lines possible.
Written by: Final Draft