Yesterday I finally received my copy of Final Draft. It took nearly a month to arrive–it should only have taken a couple of days–because of a mix-up regarding my address.
Final Draft is a software package that simplifies the formatting process for writing screenplays for film or TV, as well as writing for theatre. It ain’t cheap. However, I waited until I was a student to buy it because the company offers a substantial educational discount.
I transferred the short script I wrote last week into a Final Draft file. This allowed me to familiarise myself with how the software works, and I tidied up the screenplay at the same time.
If you want to go Old Skool, software such as Final Draft is unnecessary–you can always build macros and templates for your word processor. Fair dues to you (as they say here in Ireland), but I couldn’t be arsed. I’m a believer in getting the right tool for the job, and some software can be useful.
From my test drive of the package it simplifies the whole formatting process so it’s a snap to switch from dialogue, action, transitions, etc. I found it easy to figure out without resorting to the manual.
Of course, the software won’t write anything for you. You still have to sweat out the story and rewrite it. All it does is make the process less of a headache, and keeps you within industry standards. I’m careful about abiding by the standards set for anything: be it for screenplays, short stories, or novels. The easiest way to look like an amateur is to not get the basic format right. I investigate the manuscript guidelines for any journal, magazine or publication. It doesn’t take much time, and at least it proves you were paying attention.
I’ll use any advantage to get my work out of the slush pile and have it examined without the editor, or reader, being biased against it by a lack of adherence to the rules.
“They” say if the story’s kick-ass the formatting doesn’t matter. I’d prefer not to take any chances and produce clean copy that reads easily and gives my material a decent chance of being taken seriously. It’s about being a professional.