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Why use screenwriting software?

May 31, 2022
6 min read time

For nearly a century the image of a writer hunched over a typewriter has been an indelible one. From William Holden using a traditional typewriter in Sunset Boulevard to Nicolas Cage typing away on his electric one in Adaptation, this visual has become synonymous with screenwriter... one either staring hopelessly at an empty page or pounding away at the keys when inspiration hits.

 

Final Draft Hall of Fame Award winner Quentin Tarantino doesn’t use a typewriter or a computer. He handwrites his scripts and then has someone transcribe his work into a properly formatted screenplay. Now unless you’re one of the biggest filmmakers in Hollywood history like Tarantino, chances are you won’t have someone on your payroll to transcribe and format your screenplay. Typewriters are an even less likely option in our digital age.

A type-written script would require an expensive and exhausting number of copies to be made if you hoped to send it to various agents, managers, and producers in the entertainment industry. Not to mention practically no one in the industry uses “snail mail” anymore and most of us read scripts from our computer, tablet, or smartphone. You could scan your typed script into a computer, but this would likewise be an exhausting effort and you still wouldn’t have the various formatting tools needed to ensure your screenplay matches industry standards.

 

Screenplay structure

You might think simply using a word-processing program on your computer will do the trick, but this isn’t advisable if you want to seem professional to those reading your scripts—never give them a reason to say “no”.

Although a word-processing program does include some basic formatting tools (fonts, styles, spellcheck, etc.), it doesn’t offer the formatting tools specifically tailored for the film and television industry. If an agent, manager, or producer read a screenplay that isn’t formatted to industry standards, you’ll instantly be creating an obstacle for yourself. A skeptical reader will consider the script “amateurish” or “unprofessional”, and that’s all before they even dive into your story and characters.

To assure this doesn’t happen, your best option is to invest in a screenwriting program and use it to write your script. And yes, it is an investment. An investment in something tangible, as well as an investment in yourself and your career. The very fact that you purchased a screenwriting program tells industry professionals that you take your craft seriously and are familiar with and utilizing the very same tools they use.

But which screenwriting program should you invest in? Ideally, it should be the one that is used by most professionals in the industry, right?

 

Industry-standard screenwriter software

For over 25 years, Final Draft is the industry standard and market leader in screenwriting software. Final Draft is used by 95% of all Hollywood productions and is the best-selling screenwriting software worldwide. It is the first choice for both professional and aspiring screenwriters, producers, directors, and industry executives. If you start working within the film and television industry, it will be expected you use Final Draft. When rewriting a script and working on productions, the document files you share with other professionals should be one and the same: An FDX or FDR (a Final Draft Document file). It’s the signifier that you’re a pro.

 

Final Draft: The professional screenplay formatter

Scripts written with a regular word-processing program or a free web-based screenplay template can’t be used in professional film productions. They’re often retyped or must go through a complicated conversion process to get them ready for production. Screenplays written in Final Draft and saved in the FDX format are ready for professional use.

Not in Hollywood? Final Draft is still the standard and used professionally all over the world, including in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and over 60 other countries. There are dictionaries in English (U.S., Canada, and British), Catalan, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Swiss-German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), Spanish, and Swedish. So whatever country you’re in, if you’re using Final Draft, you know you’re using the industry standard.

Final Draft formatting has its roots in the type-written studio script standards established over one hundred years ago. Not a lot has changed since. The same proper pagination, the same format, the same twelve-point Courier font, and keeping to approximately one minute of screen time for every written page is still important. This page permitted average was and is used for quick high-level script evaluations by writers, agents, producers, and studio executives when promoting, planning, and budgeting projects.

 

And the award for best screenwriting software goes to…

In addition to the essential formatting tools, Final Draft also comes loaded with templates for all your other creative endeavors: Whether youre writing a feature film, TV drama or comedy, play, graphic novel, or musical, Final Draft comes with files already formatted for these very purposes.

 

Final Draft 12 also has numerous features that make the screenwriting process easier and more efficient:

  • Smart Type cuts down on keystrokes by auto-filling commonly used names, locations, and more.
  • The Beat Board and Outline Editor assist with story planning and keep it all in one place for easy access during the writing process.
  • Inserting images into your script helps you to visualize your story.
  • Collaboration Mode allows you to work with writing partners in real-time around the corner or anywhere in the world.
  • Alternate Dialogue enables you to store as many different versions of lines as you can imagine.
  • Night Mode lets you work in an environment that’s easier on the eyes.
  • Focus Mode gives you distraction-free writing.

 

In addition to the various benefits of the software itself, once you purchase Final Draft and become a registered user, you also gain access to world-class technical support. Got a formatting question? Our staff is on hand via phone, email, or chat to assist you with all your writing needs. Once you’re a Final Draft owner, you’ll also receive periodic updates, assuring that your copy of Final Draft contains the latest features and tools.

Final Drafts blog contains all the tips, tricks, and techniques you need to get started in your career, as well as industry news, reviews, and interviews with the industry's top writers and filmmakers. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, while our YouTube channel features numerous helpful tutorials and industry interviews. Sign up for our newsletter so you’ll never miss a thing.

With Final Draft, it’s never been easier to write your screenplay. So whether your mind goes to a writer staring at a blank page or typing away with inspiration, know that the right screenwriting software will assist you on your writing journey.

 

Everyone starts off as a novice, but Final Draft will take you one step closer to being a professional.

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