For moviegoers, the cinematic experience begins with buying a ticket at the box office. But for filmmakers, it’s a story that was years in the making—a communal voyage that began with a writer extracting ideas from their head and turning them into descriptive words and colorful dialogue that would act as a blueprint for the entire production.
Since 1991, Final Draft has been the word processor of choice for most screenwriters. The software is now in use by a large majority of film and television productions, and with good reason: It not only eases the burden of formatting scripts to the rigid standards of Hollywood studios, but introduces new ways to visualize ideas.
Celebrating a silver anniversary in 2016, Final Draft 10 ($250) comes on the heels of a modest version 9.0 over two years ago, a release designed to address glaring oversights like watermark and revision color options with PDF exports, as well as Retina Display support. The biggest improvement was a redesigned navigator that made it easier to browse scenes, ScriptNotes, or characters.
Final Draft 10’s Story Map adds a visual representation of where scenes fall across the entire page count for quickly navigating a script.
By comparison, Final Draft 10 offers six marquee features, most of which make it easier to keep tabs on the direction your story is heading. Beat Board is designed to help brainstorm ideas prior to committing them to virtual paper, allowing writers to rearrange the progression of beats in a story without a lot of old-school cut and paste.
Story Map provides a high-level view of scenes as they’re being written. Enabling this feature adds a horizontal grid sandwiched between the toolbar and page ruler, with grey markers denoting where scenes are located across the entire page count. Hovering the mouse over a marker displays a small pop-up preview; double-clicking jumps directly to that scene. You can also plan backwards by setting the target length for a script, which helps establish where acts and key plot points should take place.
Beat Board entries appear as diamond-shaped markers on Story Map, alongside another new feature called Structure Points. Those are virtual thumbtacks to help chart a character’s emotions or keep track of where the overall narrative is heading. Collectively, it’s a powerful trio of features designed to help writers keep their story moving in the right direction.
Beat Board provides a visual way to lay out key plot points, which can then be used to keep your screenwriting on track.
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