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Archive for April, 2014

Final Draft Bug: Search and Replace Apr 18

The Glitch

Final Draft - Find and ReplaceSuppose you need to change a character name in your script. Simple right? In your screenplay editor of choice you simply execute a Find/Replace (Edit > Find…) for the name.


If you’re using Final Draft, and you happen to have dual dialogue (dialogue that’s written side-by-side — used primarily to indicate that two characters are speaking at the same time), for some reason the Find/Replace won’t work.

I found this out the hard way a while back when a director told me to make sure I had changed all of the names in the next draft. For someone like me, who’s a card-carrying perfectionist, that was cringe-inducing.

The Tips

1) If you have Final Draft and you do a Find/Replace for a character name — make sure to check the dual dialogue blocks afterwards to see if it worked everywhere.

2) It’s always a good idea to rebuild and alphabetize your character list.

The second tip was a great reminder from one of my clients who had also encountered this Final Draft glitch and shared it with me (thanks P.H.!).

Rebuilding your character list (in Final Draft: Document > SmartType…), alphabetizing it, and giving it a quick glance (before sending it out to important readers), is a great way to see if you:

– Have misspelled a character name (e.g. Steven / Stephen) and used both instances

– Still have names of characters that have since been deleted or had their names changed

Remember to periodically rebuild your character list

Remember to periodically rebuild and alphabetize your character list.
In Final Draft: Document > SmartType…

Audience Participation

Final Draft recently released version 9 of their software. Any test pilots out there with Final Draft 9 willing to see if a Find/Replace will now change a character name that’s a part of a dual dialogue block?

Note: I’m referring to the CHARACTER NAME that appears above the dialogue of a character, not the mere mention of a character’s name.

If you give it a try, please let me know. It would make upgrading to Final Draft 9 more worthwhile.

Parentheticals: Always Before Dialogue – Not After Apr 15

Quick Tip

Never end a dialogue block with a parenthetical.

I’ve been seeing this kind of thing a lot lately in the amateur scripts I’ve been reading:


You think that puny gun can kill me?


If you need to indicate an action that follows a block of dialogue, then just write it as an action line following the dialogue. For example:


You think that puny gun can kill me?

Demon laughs.

Note: The first example would have been okay if there were another line of dialogue after the parenthetical (also known as a “wryly”). For example:


You think that puny gun can kill me?


Shit, you might be right.

For more juicy insight on this absolutely fascinating topic (not really), please check out my 10 rules for using parentheticals.

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