To upgrade or not to upgrade, that is the question.
Every few years screenwriters ask themselves if they should upgrade to the latest version of Final Draft. Back in 2002, I purchased FD 5 and steadily upgraded over the years as the newest versions came out. Often, the newer versions didn’t seem that advanced over the previous version and sometimes had font or printing glitches that ended up causing a headache making whether or not to upgrade a big decision.
I’ve been working in Final Draft 10 for some time and while I appreciate the designer’s goal of uncluttering the screen, I’ve always felt there simply weren’t enough buttons at the top of the screen and I often had to click through several drop-down menus before finding the correct tool.
I’m happy to report that Final Draft 11 feels much improved. It also appears the software company has decided to appeal to more groups of writers, not just TV and screenwriters which is great because many writers write in various formats. Reaching out to a wider base is a wise move since technology is rapidly changing how we experience our entertainment.
Final Draft 11 is currently available for download for $249, but you can save $30 if you purchase through us!
Here are my six favorite new or improved features in Final Draft 11.
1. Voice to Text
If you’re like me and you’re constantly dealing with wrist/shoulder/neck pain from spending too much time at the computer, you’ll be happy to know the new “Speech to Script” feature is incredibly helpful. Just like on your smartphone, an image of a little microphone sits at the bottom of the screen. Click it and not only are you able to speak dialogue, but everything else you need to add to your script using “Dictation Commands” that include commands such as “Move left,” “Move right,” “Go to previous field,” and “Undo that.” These work surprisingly well, assuming you’re very familiar with screenplay formatting. This new feature has me dreaming of a day when I never have to type again.
2. Insert Images
I don’t think many people are planning to insert images into their screenplay, but now it’s finally possible. In an interview I did in 2016 with Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer, he told me he had a difficult time describing the circular, visual language of the aliens, so he wanted to include pictures to help the reader understand. The process was incredibly difficult.
“I couldn’t put them into Final Draft,” said Heisserer, “but I could make a PDF and put them into that. The more drafts I did, it ended up creating a lot of extra work for me. If only I could have put the graphics in Final Draft!”
Good news, Eric – you can now add them straight into your script by simply clicking a button.
3. Collaboration in Real Time
Even if you are miles away from your co-writer, you can collaborate by initiating a session and inviting your co-writer to join you. You click on “Host” a collaboration and give your partner the session code generated by Final Draft. Your partner clicks on “Join” and enters the code. You can chat with each other in a pop-up window while both looking at the same changes/edits to the script as you make them. You’ll both need Wi-Fi to do this, however.
4. Beat Board
This feature allows you to toggle back and forth between your script and a “Beat Board” that is essentially a corkboard for you to keep track of ideas, links, images, etc. that may help you find inspiration. Click on the “Views” button at the top left of the screen to access it. I find this helpful because when I write a screenplay, I create a Pinterest page to add photos of the actors I’d love to play my characters, costumes I adore, or even lines of dialogue. Now I can do the same thing within my script and I don’t have to get all those annoying emails from Pinterest.
5. Night Mode
If it’s late at night and your partner is sleeping while you work on your latest rewrite, click the little moon at the bottom of the page and the background turns from white to black. I expect some people will want to work in “Night mode” no matter what time of the day it is, just for a fun change. This also may be helpful if you’re trying to work in a dark movie theater.
Final Draft 11 comes loaded with basic formatting templates like screenplay, one-hour drama, graphic novel, etc. But if you’d like to download additional templates for free, you are able to do so by clicking “download more templates.” The button will take to you the Final Draft website where they have tons of templates for classic TV shows like 30 Rock, templates for current shows like Veep, but also templates for additional mediums like Virtual Reality (VR). There are even “Educational” templates, including several based on the Save the Cat books.
Overall, there are some great new features in FD 11. If you’re working in an older version, or if you collaborate with another writer, I’d definitely recommend the upgrade.
If you don’t already have Final Draft 11, make sure to get it today for $30 off.
Shanee Edwards graduated from UCLA Film School with an MFA in Screenwriting and is currently the film critic for SheKnows.com. She recently won the Next MacGyver television writing competition to create a TV show about a female engineer. Her pilot, Ada and the Machine, is currently in development with America Ferrera’s Take Fountain Productions. You can follow her on Twitter: @ShaneeEdwards