Final Draft is arguably the most popular screenwriting program out there. Recently I upgraded from Final Draft 7 to Final Draft 8. I know, I know… What took me so long, right? I’m a big believer in the old, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage.
Anyway, I eventually realized that Final Draft 7, while not broken, was glitchy. So I upgraded. And there was a surprising result.
In my latest script, I was at the end of page 65 in Final Draft 7. After upgrading to Final Draft 8, I was now halfway down page 64! I had miraculously saved a full page and a half, just by upgrading!
Over the course of a full script, that might work out to 2 or 3 pages in savings. And that’s HUGE! Upon examining my script side by side in Final Draft 7 and Final Draft 8, I noticed that the settings were exactly the same. The only difference was that Final Draft 8 seemed to allow for a few more millimeters of space per page.
A few millimeters doesn’t seem like much, but on certain pages it allowed for the occasional pushed content to be brought back onto a previous page — which of course caused a cascade of savings across the entire script — without having to cheat the margins.
So if any of you have been putting off purchasing Final Draft 8, you can count, page count reduction serendipity as a great reason to buy.
Hmm… I wonder what my page count would be in Movie Magic Screenwriter (that other really popular screenwriting program)? Anyone have any experience comparing the natural page counts of the two?
Why wait for a Final Draft upgrade?
Self trim your danglers. Yeah, don’t bother to point at THAT guy and be all likeMe? Danglers? Oh no, no no no. Him, totally!. I’m looking at you. No, not YOU, Trevor. Those folks on the other side of the screen. The folks with the danglers.
Stay alert to the last words in dialogue or action blocks that spill over to the next line. You see it there? That antisocial little loner camped at bottom left? Yeah. Well, that solitary guy just cost you a line of white space. You don’t need that. There’s already a nice slat of whitespace sitting under HIM.
Look for ways to shorten your sentences and reel back a line.
In action blocks, often you’ll find a lazy adjective or a leeching adverb, and that’s an opportunity to smoosh two indifferent words into a single powerful one. It can be enough to yank back the drifting dangler. In dialogue, often you can excise a few words and it’ll read even better, more natural sounding, because you overwrote it in the first place (as we all do). Ditto, that can be enough to return a line of white space to the page bank.
Do this regularly and you’ll eventually experience the exquisite joy of seeing a “can’t lose a page of it!” script go from a well-intentioned “I’m joining the gym next month” three-figure page count to the magical “Oh, did I lose my shirt and my oiled six-pack abs are showing again?” two. (Like price tags, .99 cents just feels more satisfying than 1.00 dollar.)
If you do this AND switch to Final Draft 8… I don’t know. Surely amazing things must happen. I can’t promise anything, but I can strongly hint that a day will come when you’re in a grassy field crewing on a Victoria’s Secret catalog photo shoot. The models just returned after changing into their wispiest lingerie. And today, you’re the guy in charge of the wind machine.
I had forgotten Victoria’s Secret models were a part of the screenwriting gameplan. Thank you for the reminder.
Some good tips — if you actually want to work at improving the page count. I’m still holding out hope for those super intelligent Star Trek computers.
Computer, please adjust page count to 109 pages.
Your current draft is 130 pages long. 21 pages will be removed. Do you want me to take a pass at the script and emulate any particular writer?
Yes. Please rewrite in the style of Jon Spaihts.
Very good sir. If I rewrite more than 50%, will you be willing to share screenwriting credit with me this ti–