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Home » Archives » June 2006 » Final Draft Tries to Keep Us From Talking Over Each Other
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06/11/2006: Final Draft Tries to Keep Us From Talking Over Each Other

I'm back from Vegas. I had a wonderful time! I played many pretty slot machines. However, there was one that I had enjoyed on a previous visit, that I discovered to be gone. It was brand new when I found it, and it was quite different. It had no illusion of reels. Instead, it featured a honeycomb-shaped pattern of symbols that each popped in independently and it payed based on the size of the clumps of any one symbol. I guess maybe it was *too* different. Since the machine was nowhere to be found, I assume that I was the only one who liked it. Technology can sometimes be slow to find acceptance, even if it works perfectly.

And sometimes, it doesn't so much work perfectly. I assume that many of you out there are using Final Draft to write your specs. Well, here's a handy tip for all of you. It has to do with dual dialogue (parallel columns of dialogue that indicate two characters speaking at the same time). If you need to use any dual dialogue, do not put it in its final form until right before you turn in your script. Keep the dialogue in one column for as long as possible.

This is because of the way Final Draft deals with the problem. When it creates the two columns, it actually creates a little block of your script that is opaque to search-and-replace. If you want to substitute a word throughout your script, or, even more crucially, change the name of one of the characters uttering your simultaneous dialogue, search-and-replace will simply fail to work inside the dual dialogue. And there will be no notification that you need to go check it by hand. This can allow errors into your otherwise perfectly executed spec. Boo!

Also, it seems to me that having dual dialogue greatly increases the time it takes to do a simple "save" on your script. It looks to me like it "unpacks" the dual dialogue, saves the script, and then duals it up again. Pffft.

I can only assume that there are good programming reasons why this is the best way for Final Draft to handle two columns. The best way for you to handle two columns is to keep it as one for as long as you can. Also, you get that lovely surprise at the very end – when you finally engage the dual dialogue, the script will be mercifully shorter!

Lunch: Del Taco's chicken soft tacos with Del Scorcho sauce


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