How to Write a Great Script with Final Draft 10
3.9 (49 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
287 students enrolled

How to Write a Great Script with Final Draft 10

(You Can Write a Screenplay Easier and Faster Than You Think)
3.9 (49 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
287 students enrolled
Created by Wallace Wang
Last updated 3/2019
English [Auto]
Current price: $20.99 Original price: $29.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
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This course includes
  • 6.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 downloadable resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Assignments
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Turn an idea into a story outline
  • Organize a story using Final Draft
  • Write and edit a screenplay using Final Draft
  • Track changes in a screenplay using Final Draft
  • Share and collaborate on a screenplay online using Final Draft
  • A copy of Final Draft 10 on a PC or Macintosh
  • (Earlier versions of Final Draft can also work but this course covers some features only available in Final Draft 10. In addition, the user interface of Final Draft 10 looks slightly different from the user interface of earlier versions of Final Draft)
  • You should feel comfortable using a PC or Macintosh at a beginner's level

Dreaming about writing a screenplay?

Have you ever watched a movie and thought, "I could do better than that!" 

Maybe you’ve got a vision, some inspiration, and a handful of great ideas, but you just don't know how to get started?

Or maybe, you have a copy of Final Draft but found it too complicated and intimidating. Yet you know it could help you turn your great ideas into a great screenplay, but you just need a little help so you'll feel comfortable.

Or, maybe you’ve already written a novel and want to convert it into a screenplay to see your story up on the big screen?

Either way, you’re here because you want to make something BRILLIANT and LIFE CHANGING.

Then congratulations!! I wrote "How to Write a Great Script with Final Draft" just for you.

Final Draft is THE screenwriting word processor used in Hollywood today. All the pros use Final Draft. Shouldn't you?

Check out what James Cameron (writer/director/producer of "Titanic," "Avatar," Terminator") had to say about Final Draft:

  • "You can't win a race without a champion car. Final Draft is my Ferrari."

Robert Zemeckis (writer/director/producer of "Back to the Future," "Forrest Gump," and "The Polar Express") says this:

  • “The intuitive ease of Final Draft allows the writer to focus on what’s truly important – story.”

Ben Stiller (actor/writer/producer of "Zoolander," Tropic Thunder," and "Night at the Museum") says:

  • "Final Draft is the only screenwriting software I have ever used, and it is the only one I ever will use. I owe ALL my success to Final Draft. Period. End of story."

What does all this mean for you?

  • You can write a screenplay!
  • You can start a new career!
  • You can achieve your dream!

So why should you take MY course?

I’m Wallace Wang, author of dozens of books including "Microsoft Office For Dummies," "Absolute Beginner's Guide to Computing," and "Steal This Computer Book." I've spent a lifetime demystifying computers and software to make them easy to understand for the average person. 

In addition, I've also written "The 15-Minute Movie Method," Writing Scenes for Screenplays," and "How to Write a Great Script with Final Draft." All of these books distill the knowledge I've accumulated from studying movies from classics such as "Casablanca" and "It's a Wonderful Life" to modern day blockbusters such as "WALL-E," "Pulp Fiction," and "Die Hard." Just look at some of these quotes about my screenwriting books: 

***** Amazing book! Broke stuff down in such a clear way with lots and lots of examples. Worth having in your reference library as a writer.  J. Carrie

***** I absolutely love this book. He drills the concepts in with a repetitive style that at first I thought would be annoying but instead it has been the best way to come away with a working knowledge of the material. He uses lots of examples from movies I've actually seen. Literally transformed the way I'm writing now. S. Johnson

But enough about me! What about YOU?

My guess is you’re looking for a change in your life. Start a new career? Chase a long cherished dream? Change the world with your ideas?… Am I right?

Yes, this course is absolutely for YOU. Whatever stage you’re at.

Beginner? No problem. We start with the basics. Already a writer? Good. This is the perfect refresh of your skills.  

You’ll not only learn how to use Final Draft, but you'll also understand why you want to use certain features as well. In addition, you'll learn how to turn a great idea into a structured story, and then use Final Draft to help you organize your ideas and write them down as a polished, perfectly formatted screenplay. 

By using popular movie examples along with short videos that focus on one feature at a time, you'll learn at your own pace whenever it's convenient for you. Best of all, it won't even feel like work because you'll get to watch all your favorite movies to help reinforce each lesson. How awesome is that?

Imagine how you’ll feel after seeing your ideas turn into a fully structured story. Then you'll know exactly which features of Final Draft to turn your story into a great screenplay!

Help when YOU need it

Need help? You got it. I'm here to answer your questions. Just hop on email or the Udemy forums and we’ll get back to you. Simple. Got a suggestion for making a lesson better? I want your feedback. This course is for everyone who wants to dream big and that includes you.

“OK, I’m sold  – what do I need to get started?”

  • Your brain, this course and a Windows or Macintosh computer
  • A copy of Final Draft 10 or later
  • A desire to learn and a belief in yourself

Don’t forget, there's always a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not completely happy.

Who is the target audience?

  • Anyone wanting to write a screenplay
  • People who already own a copy of Final Draft and want to take advantage of all its features
  • Anyone who wants to tell a great story

You really have nothing to lose!

Remember, you can achieve any dream, but you absolutely must take that first step. Click that Buy Now button… and let’s begin your adventure today!

Who this course is for:
  • Aspiring screenwriters who want to get comfortable using Final Draft
  • Aspiring screenwriters who want to know how to turn a good idea into a structured outline
Course content
Expand all 65 lectures 06:34:05
+ Introduction
8 lectures 24:17

Screenwriting is more than properly formatting your story. The most important part about writing a screenplay is to start with an idea that excites you. Once you have an idea, you need to turn that idea into a complete story. Only after you have planned the structure of a story can you write a screenplay using a program like Final Draft. 

Just remember that you never have to learn every possible feature of Final Draft. All you have to do is learn the features of Final Draft that are most useful for you.

Preview 02:58

Since this course covers both the Macintosh and Windows version of Final Draft, most videos will give examples in both versions. First, the video will demonstrate how the Macintosh version of Final Draft works and then show how the Windows version of Final Draft works.

If you're a Windows user, please watch the Macintosh video so you can learn the basic principles discussed in each lesson. If you're a Macintosh user, please watch the Windows video segment as well to reinforce the basic principles introduced in each lesson.

Learning any new skill involves practice and repetition, so even if you're watching a video demonstrating the version of Final Draft that you're not using, you can still benefit by learning how Final Draft works in general so you can use those principles to help you write faster and easier using whatever version (Windows or Macintosh) of Final Draft that you may be using.

How to Watch Videos for the Macintosh and Windows Version of Final Draft

The Windows version of Final Draft lets you choose between two user interfaces: Ribbon View and Classic View. The Ribbon View displays tabs at the top of the screen and each time you click on a tab, you can see icons representing commands. The Classic View displays traditional pull-down menus. 

By letting you choose between the Ribbon or Classic View, the Windows version of Final Draft lets you choose the user interface you like best. (Since the Ribbon View is the default user interface, this course will focus exclusively on the Ribbon View.)

Changing the User Interface (Windows version only)

When you create a document in Final Draft, you can choose from multiple templates that define pre-formatted documents for screenplays, teleplays, or stage plays. By choosing different templates, you can use Final Draft to write more than just screenplays.

Creating a New Screenplay

Saving documents is crucial to using any program. After viewing this lesson, students will know how to manually save documents as well as knowing how to customize Final Draft's Auto-Save and Auto-Backup features to further protect your documents from disaster.

Preview 04:54

Once you've saved one or more screenplays in a Final Draft file, you can open those files again at a later time. The Open command lets you view different folders and drives while the Open Recent command lets you choose from a list of your most recently opened files. 

Opening an Existing File

When you're writing a screenplay, you'll likely make mistakes and write parts that you may later decide you don't want or need any more. While you could delete unwanted changes manually, it's much faster to use Final Draft's various tools to do this automatically. One method is to create backup copies of your files. A second method is to use the Undo/Redo commands to selective remove or retrieve changes. A third method is to use the Revert command to delete all changes and return your document back to the last time you saved it. By using one or more of these methods, you can reverse any changes or mistakes you might make while writing and editing in Final Draft.

Undoing Mistakes

When you're done writing or editing a screenplay, you can close the file and continue working in Final Draft, or you can exit out of Final Draft altogether. Final Draft offers two ways to close a file and still keep the program running. The most straightforward way to close a file is to click the File menu/tab and then choose Close. 

A faster way is to click the close button in the upper left (Macintosh) or upper right (Windows) corner of the window that contains the document you want to close. If you have unsaved changes in your document, Final Draft will prompt you to save those changes before closing the file.

Closing Files and Exiting Out of Final Draft
Practice creating, saving, closing, and opening a Final Draft document.
Create, Save, Close, and Open a Final Draft Document
1 question
+ Every Story Starts with a Great Idea
12 lectures 01:25:57

Everyone can come up with a good idea for a movie, but how do you take that good idea and turn it into a story? In this video, you'll learn the crucial first step to define the ending of your story first.

Preview 03:23
The beginning and ending of every story must be related. By studying the beginning and ending of your favorite movies, you can better identify this hidden but crucial structure needed to "frame" a story.
Study the Beginning and End of Your Favorite Movies
2 questions

Genre defines the type of story you want to tell whether it's a romance, action thriller, comedy, or horror story. When you choose a genre, you define an audience's expectations. More importantly, you also define what type of story you're telling so you know that every scene, from start to finish, must reflect your chosen genre. Stories often consist of two genres where the main genre defines what story you're telling and the second genre defines how you're telling that story. A romantic comedy tells a romance story with humor while a romantic drama tells a romance story in a serious manner. Once you know your genre, you know the tone of your beginning and ending scenes.

The Importance of Genre in Story Telling

Once you know the genre of your story, you can use your genre as a guide to turn your good (or great) story idea into a basic story outline. In any story, you need to know how your story begins, what happens next, what problems occur, and finally what happens in the end. Every genre uses the same pattern so by knowing each genre's pattern, you can lay out the basic foundation of your own story within that genre.

Using Genre to Define Story Structure

A genre defines your basic story, but a single genre creates a one-dimensional story. To create a multi-dimensional story, you need to apply two (or more) genres where each genre provides a basic structure for your overall story. By applying the structure of multiple genres to your idea, you can shape any idea into a more fully formed, structured story.

Applying Multiple Genres to Define a Multi-Dimensional Story
The genre defines the type of story being told such as a horror or comedy story. Once you know the genre of your story, you'll automatically know that your opening and ending scenes must reflect that genre in some way.
Understanding Genre in Movies
1 question

Every idea automatically defines necessary people and places for that particular story. After defining the necessary people and places for your story idea, you can flesh out your plot by defining how all the people and places in your story create both goals and obstacles for your hero. Knowing both the goals and obstacles created by the people and places in your story can help you turn a good idea into a basic plot. 

Defining the People and Places in a Story Idea

Every story is about achieving a physical goal and an emotional goal. The physical goal is the visual highlight of your story such as a man-eating shark ("Jaws") or fighting terrorists alone ("Die Hard"). However, no physical goal can survive on its own. You also need an emotional goal that involves a painful past that the hero is trying to overcome. Only with both a physical goal and an emotional goal can you create a story that's truly satisfying.

Creating an Emotional Story

There are three ways to start a story:

  • A scene that includes throw-away, disposable characters that are seen once and never seen again
  • A scene that introduces your hero
  • A scene that introduces your villain

By understanding the different options you have for starting a story, you can choose the best type of opening scene for your particular story.

Choosing a Beginning Scene
The beginning scene of every movie must grab an audience's attention, but there are different techniques for doing this. By studying your favorite movies, you can see the different ways to open a story.
Analyzing the Beginning Scenes of Your Favorite Movies
1 question

Stories can end in four ways:

  • A happy ending where the hero wins
  • A tragic ending where the hero loses
  • A happy ending where the hero loses, but actually gets something better
  • A happy ending where the hero wins, but at a bitter cost

By studying these four types of endings, you can choose the best type of ending for your particular story

Choosing an Ending Scene
Beginnings and endings are interconnected because the beginning defines the end. By studying different types of endings, you can choose which type of ending will work best for your particular story.
Study Ending Scenes
1 question

A title serves two purposes. First, it summarizes your story to intrigue people to want to know what your story is about. Second, a title helps keep you focused on what your story is about. A good title can help "sell" your story to others. A poor title will make it easy for others to ignore your story altogether, even if you have a great story to tell. 

Preview 07:58
A movie title lets you know the type of story offered and what the story is about. By choosing a good title, you can attract people. By choosing a poor title, you risk discouraging people from even considering your story.
Study Existing Movie Titles
2 questions

When you're writing a story, you'll likely have lots of ideas for characters, scenes, and the plot. The trouble is, where do you store all these ideas? The traditional way is to store everything in separate files or on separate pieces of paper, but that risks losing track of your ideas. A better way is to store all your ideas as either a General Note or on the Beat Board.

Saving Ideas

Whenever you have an idea for your story, you will want to write it down right away. The problem is that if you store ideas on Post-It notes or random pieces of paper, you risk losing them. If you store ideas in separate files on your computer, you might forget where you stored them. A far better solution is to store all your story ideas in your Final Draft document as a General Note that you can view at any time.

Saving Ideas as General Notes

No matter what your idea might be, every story always needs certain people and places. People help the hero achieve a goal. Places are where the hero needs to go to meet different people. By knowing the people and places necessary for your story idea, you automatically know that you need scenes that:

  • Show the hero struggling to get to a certain place to meet a person

  • Show where conflict takes place and the people who define the type of conflict that occurs

  • Show the hero leaving a place a changed person emotionally or physically

By identifying the people and places absolutely necessary for your story, you can flesh out the basic outline of your story idea.

Identifying Necessary People and Places in a Story
+ Storing and Organizing Ideas in Final Draft
3 lectures 17:16

After you've stored multiple ideas as General Notes, you can view them again by opening the Navigator pane. Once the Navigator pane appears, you can sort your General Notes to organize them in ascending or descending order, or you can search for specific text within a General Note.

Sorting and Filtering General Notes

The Beat Board is another way to store ideas visually like sticking index cards on a cork board. By storing ideas on the Beat Board, you can view them next to your screenplay and group related ideas together by color, size, and position.

Saving Ideas on the Beat Board

There are many different ways to create beats and structure points on the Beat Board. The four ways to create a beat include:

  • Double-clicking on the beat board
  • Choosing Insert > New Beat
  • Pressing Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Command+Enter (Macintosh)
  • Right-clicking on the beat board and choosing New Beat

The four ways to create a structure point include:

  • Choosing Insert > New Structure Point
  • Pressing Shift+Ctrl+Enter (Windows) or Shift+Command+Enter (Macintosh)
  • Right-clicking on the beat board and choosing New Structure Point
  • Double-clicking on the beat board to create a beat, then right-clicking on the beat and choosing Convert to Structure Point

To delete a beat or structure point, click on the beat/structure point and press the Delete key or choose Edit > Delete.

Using the Beat Board and the Story Map
General Notes and the Beat Board are two ways to store ideas with your Final Draft document so you need to understand the pros and cons of each.
Practice Storing Ideas as General Notes and on the Beat Board
2 questions
+ Understanding Story Structure
14 lectures 01:19:26

Everyone can come up with a great idea for a story, but the real work comes in converting an idea into a compelling and interesting story. To do that, you need to summarize the main elements of your story in one or two sentences, known as a log line. Creating a log line helps your focus on what your story is all about and gives you a simple sentence or two that you can use to describe and pitch your story idea to others.

Log Lines - Summarizing a Story in One or Two Sentences

To increase a story's conflict and generate more tension, your story needs to add an impossible goal that must be achieved by an unlikely hero who must defeat an invincible villain. An impossible goal immediately grabs attention and an unlikely hero battling an invincible villain generates more tension to make an audience sit on the edge of their seats and wonder, "How can the hero possibly succeed now?"

Refining a Log Line to Increase Conflict

To further tighten a story and make it more intriguing, add a tough world for the hero to battle against along with horrible consequences if the hero should fail. The tougher the environment the hero lives in, the more obstacles the hero must overcome to triumph. The greater the horrible consequences the hero risks if he or she fails, the more crucial the hero's struggle to succeed.

Refining a Log Line to Increase Suspense

By refining your story idea into a log line, you can summarize your story in one or two sentences. Use this log line formula to turn your story idea into a compelling summary that you can use to promote your idea to others: 

An unlikely hero in a tough world has to achieve an impossible goal by a certain deadline against an invincible villain to save the world from horrible consequences.

Using the Log Line Formula
Once you've created a log line for your story, keep it within sight at all times so you can refer back to it while you're writing or editing your screenplay. One way to keep your log line with your Final Draft document is to store your log line as a General Note.
Storing a Log Line as a General Note
1 question

Far too many screenplay books focus on dividing a story into three parts or Acts, but the huge problem with that is that it creates an Act I and Act III that consists of 30 minutes and a middle Act II that consists of 60 minutes. It's far easier to divide a screenplay into four equal 30-minute parts instead. By simply defining the beginning and ending of each Act, you can create a framework for your story.

Understanding the Four Part Story Structure

Once you have an idea for a story, you need to expand it into a plot. Basically a plot briefly describes what happens. You don't need to know all the details of your story to create a plot. You just need to follow the four part story structure to define the overall structure of your story idea. In Act I, a problem appears. In Act IIa, the hero tries to solve that problem. In Act IIb, the villain intensifies that problem. Finally in Act III, the hero solves that problem. By simply expanding your idea and defining the four parts of your plot, you can start creating an overall structure for your story. 

Applying Plot to the Four Part Story Structure

Plot describes what happens. Story describes why it happens, and every story is about both a hero and a villain. The hero wants to achieve an emotional goal or dream while the villain wants to achieve a specific goal. When both the hero and the villain have specific reasons for taking action, that explains why events occur. The more we understand how motivation creates action, the more engaging a story will be.

Applying the Hero and Villain Story to the Four Part Story Structure

Each story can be divided into four separate Acts where each Act has a distinct beginning and an ending. By simply defining the beginning and ending of each Act, you can structure the bulk of your story. Then you can use the Story Map feature of Final Draft to organize and save your ideas.

introduction to the Story Map

The Beat Board lets you place beats and structure points on the Story Map so you can define which events need to occur at specific points of your screenplay. You can hide and show the Story Map along with zoom in and out. By placing beats and structure points on the Story Map, you can keep track of your ideas while you're writing a screenplay.

Adding Beats to the Story Map

Why should the hero fight the villain (and vice versa)? The reason is because both the hero and villain are pursuing a Symbol of Hope. The hero wants this Symbol of Hope because it represents a clear path to achieving an emotional goal. The villain wants to destroy this Symbol of Hope because it represents the biggest threat to the villain's goal. By identifying the Symbol of Hope in your story, you can define how and why your hero and villain must constantly fight each other until only one can win in the end.

Understanding the Symbol of Hope
The Symbol of Hope is the single most crucial element that defines your entire story. By clearly identifying this Symbol of Hope, you can see how the hero and villain must constantly fight each other.
Identify the Symbol of Hope in Your Favorite Movie
1 question

Conflict is the heart of any story, but how do you get the hero and villain to fight each other when they often live in completely separate and distinct worlds? The answer is the Symbol of Hope. This can be a person, object, or symbol that the hero wants because it represents a clear path to achieving his or her emotional goal. 

Yet while the hero wants to save the Symbol of Hope, the Symbol of Hope also represents the greatest threat to the villain. For that reason, the villain wants to destroy the Symbol of Hope. Now this constant battle to save or destroy the Symbol of Hope generates consistent conflict throughout the story from beginning to end. By using the Symbol of Hope to structure a story, you can create a unified story that gives the hero a reason to fight the villain until only one is left the victory in the end.

Defining the Symbol of Hope Story Structure

To help you organize a story based on the Symbol of Hope, you can use the Story Map and beats or structure points to outline how the Symbol of Hope defines the hero's actions. By plotting your entire story structure on the Story Map using the Symbol of Hope, you can organize the basic framework of your idea before you start writing.

Using Structure Points to Define the Symbol of Hope Storyline

Every story, no matter what the genre, requires specific critical scenes that define the beginning, middle, and ending of every Act. These critical scenes revolve around the Symbol of Hope and define how the Symbol of Hope constantly draws the hero and villain into conflict until the end when the villain tries to destroy the Symbol of Hope and the hero tries to save it so only one can merge victorious in the end.

Understanding Critical Scenes

When planning to write a screenplay, it's easier to break a large story into smaller parts. Once you understand the four part story structure, you can further divide each Act in half to create an eight segment story structure where each segment serves a specific purpose. By focusing on the necessary details for each segment, you can create a well-structured story. 

The Eight Segment Story Structure
By using the eight segment story structure, outline the basic structure of your favorite movies. Then use this eight segment story structure to outline your own story idea.
Define the Eight Segment Story Structure
1 question
+ Creating Characters
8 lectures 46:28

Plot describes what happens. Story defines why it happens through the hero and villain's decisions and motivation. Theme defines why the story is important. Theme represents a single point of view that literally defines your entire story. A theme is often a simple sentence that expresses a universal idea such as "Good triumphs over evil" or "Honesty is the best policy." By understanding how a theme defines and affects your entire story, you can create a unified structure before you start doing any actual writing.

Understanding Theme

Your theme defines your hero and how your hero changes emotionally. Once you know how your theme defines your hero, you can use your hero to define both your ally and your villain. The villain is the anti-hero, someone the hero could become if he or she chooses to do evil. 

Knowing your villain (based on your hero) also lets you define your mentor and your henchman. The mentor is often a remorseful version of the villain, someone who has made a tragic mistake in the past and needs the hero to defeat the villain to redeem him or herself from this past mistake. 

On the other hand, the henchman is someone with a deadly skill who nearly defeats the hero and who protects the villain from the hero. Only after defeating the henchman can the hero face and defeat the villain. 

Once you've defined all your major characters based on your story's theme, you can use the Name Database in Final Draft to help you come up with unique names for each character.

Creating Characters
Once you know your story's theme, you also know what type of characters your story needs.
Defining Characters Based on the Theme
1 question

Audiences must root for the hero, but the only way they will do that is if they find the hero likable. Four ways to create a likable hero include showing weakness, showing strength, making the hero a victim of circumstances, and having the hero help those less fortunate. Good heroes typically exhibit all four of these traits at different times of the story, which makes us like the hero and want the hero to succeed. Make sure your hero is likable because a likable hero will help create an emotional bond between your story and the audience.

Making the Hero Likable

What creates an emotionally engaging story is when the hero changes. However, the hero can't change too quickly or else this change won't feel natural. Instead, the hero must change in gradual steps. First, in Act IIa, the hero embraces an old and a new way of life, often deceiving others as to his or her true self. Second, the hero pursues a selfish goal.

However in Act IIb, the hero starts changing more. Instead of pursuing a selfish goal, the hero helps others through a selfless act. Then the hero's deception is exposed. Finally in Act III, the hero is ready to change into a better person by embracing the new way of life and abandoning the old.

Defining the Hero's Change

Just like the hero, the villain also changes, but while the hero gradually changes into a better person, the villain gradually changes into a worse person. Initially, the villain may be evil but as the story progresses, the villain slowly reveals his or her true nature and it's much worse than initially revealed. By making your villain progressively worse, you also make the audience root more for the hero's victory over the villain.

Defining the Villain's Change

The mentor is the third most important character in any story and must also change over time. Initially, the mentor appears as the most unlikely person who can help the hero, but the mentor shows the hero another way of life and teaches the story's theme as a crucial lesson. 

More importantly, the mentor has a haunted past that can only be redeemed through the hero's defeat of the villain. When hero uses the mentor's lesson to defeat the villain in the end, the hero helps redeem the mentor for a past, tragic mistake.

Defining the Mentor's Change

No hero can succeed without help so every hero needs help from an ally, who wants a goal similar to the hero's own emotional dream. An ally offers the hero help in an unfamiliar world. Then the hero turns around and helps the ally achieve his or her own goal, which changes the ally into a better person. As a changed person, the ally helps the hero a second time by offering aid so the hero can finally defeat the villain.

Defining the Ally's Change
Emotional change is the heart of every story, so the more your characters change, the stronger your story and the more emotionally satisfying your story will feel. Every character is based on your story's theme so you must know your story's theme before you define any characters.
Define the Changes in Your Major Characters
3 questions

After unzipping this compressed zip file, you'll find a Final Draft file that contains the Beat Board with all the major characters (hero, villain, mentor, ally, and henchman) already defined as a four-part story structure. By using the Final Draft file as a guide, you can define the changes each of your major characters go through during your story.

Using the Beat Board to Outline Character Changes
+ Writing a Screenplay in Final Draft
13 lectures 01:31:04

Every screenplay must follow specific formatting criteria. Fortunately, Final Draft takes care of formatting your screenplay automatically so you can focus on writing. All you need to know is how to use the different parts of a screenplay to describe what happens in each scene, where each scene takes place, and what each character says within that scene.

The Basic Formatting Elements of a Screenplay
To really understand how the different formatting elements of a screenplay (Scene Heading, Dialogue, Character, Action, etc.) work, read as many screenplays as you can of different movies. By reading screenplays of movies that you've seen, you can better understand how certain scenes were written.
Study the Formatting of Existing Screenplays
2 questions

Final Draft takes care of all formatting automatically. The simplest way to write a screenplay in Final Draft is to use the Tab and Enter/Return keys. However, you may need to choose specific formatting elements. To choose a different way to format text, you can choose from a menu of different formatting options. 

Once you understand the purpose of different formatting elements, you can let Final Draft automatically format your text so you can focus on being creative and writing your story.

Formatting in Final Draft

Writing a scene involves more than just typing and letting Final Draft format the different elements of your script automatically. Writing a scene requires thought and structure. Scenes must link together using setups and payoffs along with cliffhangers at the end of each scene that pulls the audience into the next scene. Scene must also tell a mini-story that begins with a problem, a solution, an intensified problem, and a cliffhanger resolution. Once you understand how scenes are structured, you can create similarly structured scenes in your own screenplay.

Writing a Scene

In every scene, you need conflict. Conflict makes every scene interesting because you have two characters who have different goals or agendas and their different goals clash to create conflict. To help you define the goals of each character in a scene, you can use the Navigator pane and view a list of characters in a specific scene. Then you can write the goals for each character, for that particular scene, and keep those notes visible when you're writing or editing that scene in your screenplay.

Defining Character Goals in a Scene

Every character needs a distinctive, descriptive name of their personality. As you write your screenplay, you may decide that a particular name needs to be changed to something better. With Final Draft, you can quickly change character names so feel free to experiment with different names until you find the one that's perfect for your story.

Changing Character Names

Final Draft can automatically format different elements of a screenplay using a feature called SmartType. SmartType watches what locations, characters, times, shots, and transitions you type in each screenplay and stores your most commonly used names, places, and times in a list. 

Once SmartType detects you typing the first letter of a previously typed name, location, or time, Final Draft displays the entire text of what it thinks you want to type next. As a shortcut, you can just press the Tab key rather than type complete text yourself. 

You an always edit the SmartType list at any time. This can be especially useful if you misspell something in your screenplay and SmartType then thinks it's a valid name, location, or time. By editing the SmartType list, you an make sure Final Draft only displays commonly used text at all times.

Customizing SmartType

Screenwriting involves rewriting and one way to rewrite a screenplay is to focus on the dialogue of individual characters. By doing this'll you can make sure every character speaks with a consistent tone and attitude. To help you find all dialogue spoken by a specific character, Final Draft offers the ability to highlight one or more characters' dialogue. By highlighting a specific character's dialogue throughout an entire screenplay, you can focus revising that character's dialogue.

Highlighting Character Names and Dialogue in a Screenplay

Once you start writing a screenplay in Final Draft, you can view it in three different ways. Normal View displays page breaks as horizontal lines with page numbers displayed in the upper right corner of each page.

Page View displays each page as a separate item so you can see top, bottom, left, and right margins all around. Page View is best for viewing your screenplay so you can see exactly what it looks like before printing.

Speed View hides all page breaks and displays your entire screenplay as one long document. That way you can focus on writing and editing without distractions such as page breaks or page numbering.

Feel free to switch views of your screenplay whenever you wish. The three different views just give you different options so you can choose the way you want to see your screenplay at any given time.

Different Ways to View a Screenplay

When editing a screenplay, you may want to find a particular scene. Scrolling or paging up/down through a screenplay can work in short scripts or when you want to find nearby scenes. However in a long screenplay, trying to find a particular scene can be troublesome. 

To make this task easier, Final Draft offers two ways to quickly jump to any scene in your screenplay no matter how long your screenplay may be. One method is to use the Navigator pane to view a list of scenes. By double-clicking on a particular scene, you can jump to that scene in your screenplay.

A second method is to use Index Cards. By displaying your scenes are index cards, you can quickly find a particular scene and select it. Then switch back to any Script View (Normal, Page, or Speed) to view that scene in your screenplay.

Jumping to a Scene

Scenes represent the building blocks of every screenplay. Therefore it's common to move scenes from one place in a screenplay to another. To make this task easier, Final Draft provides three different methods to move scenes. First, you can sue the traditional cut and paste feature. Second, you can use the Scene View, which lets you view and rearrange scenes based on scene headings. Third, you can use Index Cards, which displays scenes as index cards that you can view and rearrange based on scene headings. Moving scenes is one of the common and key features of revising any screenplay.

Moving Scenes in a Screenplay

ScriptNotes let you attach notes to specific parts of a Final Draft screenplay much like you might use a paperclip or a Post-It sticky note on a printed screenplay to mark a certain spot. ScriptNotes are much like General Notes except you can attack them to specific pages.

Using ScriptNotes

When writing or rewriting a screenplay, you may have several ideas for how a character's dialogue should be written. Fortunately, Final Draft offers an Alternative Dialogue feature that lets you store multiple versions of dialogue in the same location of your screenplay. Now you don't risk losing alternative versions of dialogue and can display the version you like best at the moment.

Creating Alternative Dialogue

Most of the time when you write dialogue, one character will speak first and then the other one. However in rare cases, you may want characters to speak at the same time. To simulate this in a screenplay, Final Draft lets you display dialogue side by side using a feature known as Dual Dialogue. 

To use Dual Dialogue, you must first type two different characters' dialogue one after another. Then you highlight the two dialogues and choose Format > Dual Dialogue. This command toggles between displaying dialogue side by side or one after another.

Creating Dual Dialogue
+ Collaborating on a Screenplay
3 lectures 26:47

It's easy to edit and modify a screenplay at any time, but it's not always easy to know what changes you or someone else may have made to a screenplay. That's why Final Draft provides ways to track changes. One way is to display revision marks in the right margin of the page. A second way is to display new or modified text in a different color. A third way is to change the page color. By using any or all of these methods, Final Draft makes it easy for you to track and identify changes in your screenplay.

Tracking Changes in a Screenplay

When you're collaborating with others, you may wind up with two copies of the same screenplay. To help you determine what changes may be different between the two versions, Final Draft offers a Script Compare feature. By using Script Compare, Final Draft can highlight the differences so you can easily identify them and combine them into a new document.

Comparing Screenplay Versions

When two or more people need to work on the same screenplay, you can use Final Draft's collaboration feature. This lets multiple people view the same screenplay on their computers over the Internet so everyone can be in separate locations. One person at a time can edit the screenplay while others watch and send text messages offering suggestions. 

At any time, the person currently in control of a screenplay can pass editing rights to someone else. In this way, everyone can take turns editing and rewriting a screenplay while everyone watches. Such real-time collaboration features can work as long as everyone has an Internet connection and a copy of Final Draft, either the Macintosh or Windows version.

Collaborating Over the Internet in Real-Time
+ Sharing Your Screenplay with Others
3 lectures 17:55

Watermarks let you identify your screenplay with specific text such as the date you printed the screenplay or the name of the person receiving the screenplay. With a watermark, you can identify your printed screenplay to help keep track of the latest version or reduce the chance that someone will copy and share your screenplay without your knowledge ( especially if their own name is printed across every page).

Adding Watermarks to a Screenplay

When you're finally done rewriting and polishing your screenplay, you'll want to share your story with others. You can print your entire screenplay or just individual pages such as page 45 - 78 and 93. Final Draft also lets you print character sides, which are only those pages that contain dialogue for specific characters. With the ability to print text and revisions in color or not, you can choose the options that makes your screenplay look the best on paper.

Printing a Screenplay

You may need to share your screenplay with others who may not be using Final Draft. Fortunately, Final Draft is considered the screenwriting standard so most rival screenwriting programs can easily import and export Final Draft (.fdx) files. If you need to share your screenplay with someone using a regular word processor, you can save your Final Draft file as a rich text format (.rtf) or plain text (.txt) format. 

Rich text format (.rtf) retains both formatting and text. Plain text (.txt) format only retains text, which means someone will need to reformat all your text all over again. As a general rule, try sharing Final Draft (.fdx) files first and if that doesn't work, try rich text format (.rtf). As a last resort, use plain text (.txt) format. 

If you want to share your screenplay with others so they can view but not edit your file, export your Final Draft document as a PDF file, which can be read and viewed on almost any computer. PDF files let you share your screenplay with others so you don't have to waste time, paper, and postage printing and mailing a screenplay to someone else.

Exporting a Screenplay to Different File Formats
+ Congratulations!
1 lecture 03:06

Thank you for taking my course and congratulations for completing it. I hope you've learned a lot about story telling and screenwriting in particular, and learned how to take advantage of Final Draft's most common features to help you plan, organize, and write your screenplay. 

Keep watching and studying movies, and read as many screenplays as possible. Above all, keep writing every day. Writing is a skill and like any skill, you'll get better and more comfortable the more you practice it. By writing, you'll learn your strengths and weaknesses so you'll know what you need to improve on next. 

Good luck on yours screenwriting dreams and I hope I've helped you bring that dream one step closer to reality. Thank you once again and good luck in the future!

Thank You!