I know the title sounds like hubris, so I want to start by giving my competitor some credit: Final Draft has historically been very valuable to the world of screenwriting. I used Celtx for a couple years (sigh), and upgrading to Final Draft was a relief. It was the best… back then.
But it seems to me like the people behind Final Draft thought they’d “solved” screenwriting software some years ago, and basically stopped improving it. Four years after Final Draft 8, I believe version 9 was an extremely minor update. And they’re missing incredibly valuable features writers want.
WriterDuet does almost everything* Final Draft does, and so much more. Below is a list of the top ways WriterDuet is better than Final Draft, in my opinion/knowledge. You probably won’t care about every single one, but virtually all screenwriters can benefit from a lot of them.
- Formatting. Here we’re basically identical, but I should mention it first since so many others fail here. WriterDuet’s default page count will be exactly the same as Final Draft’s in the vast majority of cases. We have the same default line lengths and split action, dialogue, etc. across pages virtually identically to FD.
- Real-time collaboration. Any number of writers can video/audio/text chat, outline, and write simultaneously. Conversation-style notes help you discuss lines with writers/readers.
- Infinite revision tracking. View changes by date, writer, tagged revisions, tracked edits, and individual lines. Asterisks for printing/PDF, plus you can see the exact added/removed text, and can revert lines to previous versions. Mark/unmark changes, retroactively mark revisions by date/time/writer, track multiple revisions at once, put revision information in headers/footers, lock pages, and much more. You can even search the infinite revision history to find a line you deleted, and the full script as it was at the time that line existed!
- Price. Even WriterDuet’s free version does everything most people need to write screenplays in industry-standard format. And our Pro version is significantly less expensive than Final Draft, and include future updates at no additional cost!
- Ease of use. WriterDuet is consistently described as intuitive and seamless. A plethora of shortcuts and mouseover instructions guide the simple interface, and subtle features make the core task of writing more fluid. WriterDuet is meticulously fine-tuned.
- Compatibility. WriterDuet imports & exports Final Draft, Celtx, Fountain, and PDF files. It even imports/exports notes from the first 3 file types, and is by far the best program at converting PDFs into editable screenplay format.
- Cross-platform. WriterDuet works on Mac, Windows, Linux, Chromebooks, iOS, and Android. It gives identical page counts on all devices, and PDFs.
- Pasting from other sources. WriterDuet lets you copy text written in Fountain, or other screenwriting programs (Final Draft, Celtx, etc.) and paste it directly into WriterDuet with the correct formatting most of the time (impossible to be perfect).
- An amazing outliner. WriterDuet’s outliner lets you organize scene cards into acts and sequences, add (multiple) colors, tag characters (with optional colors/icons to identify them), set emoticons on each scene, and resize/reorder cards. All real-time collaborative.
- View & edit specific portions. Select characters to view & edit only their dialogue within the script, or just the scenes they’re in. Select the non-dialogue report to view & edit Action, etc. or the Shots report for a production-shortened version.
- Unicode support. Write in Chinese, Cyrillic, Hindi, etc.
- Distraction-free full-screen mode. Full-screen works across platforms and is script-centric by default, helping you focus on writing. You can customize other items to be displayed, and make the normal view distraction-free as well.
- 2 or 3-wide scripts. View prior pages to the left, and pages after to the right. Scroll these pages independently to look up/down without changing the position you’re editing, or scroll them together to read 3x as much.
- Grammar checking. WriterDuet will tell you when you likely screwed up it’s vs. its, your vs. you’re, affect vs. effect, etc., along with its regular spell checker. Available in many different languages.
- Automatic backups. WriterDuet instantly saves your changes online, so no lost work in the event of a power outage or crash. There are auto-save options for Dropbox and Google Drive, plus your computer, to complement WriterDuet’s cloud storage.
- Format checking. Finds 9 (optional) common problems in scripts, including typo’d character names, missing character/dialogue lines, () in dialogue, similarly named characters, action lines greater than 4 lines, extra spacing, etc.
- Script shortening. Finds orphaned words wrapping onto the next line, lines which can be shortened by removing a few letters, and places where it can cheat a margin to save lines. All with customizable thresholds.
- Hide scenes you’re not working on. Select a scene or range of scenes, and all others disappear from your view.
- Editable dual dialogue. To edit dual dialogue in Final Draft you must convert it back to sequential dialogue, make your change, then go back to the first character’s name (not their dialogue) and convert it to dual again. With WriterDuet, just edit and move on.
- Notes in PDF report. Put notes inline with the rest of the script, including customizable colors (by type and writer) and content (name & time).
- Typewriter mode. Keep your cursor vertically centered, so your eyes don’t have to follow the cursor up/down while you write and scroll. A speed-reading trick, for speed-writing.
- Screen mirroring. Automatically follow a partner or reviewer’s position in the script.
- Embedded multimedia. Directly link in images, audio/video files, YouTube videos, and SoundCloud audio on individual script lines. They’re hidden by default, with an icon to expand in the margin.
- Music player. Many genres preloaded, no need to switch programs or tabs to get your tunes.
- Dictation. Using Google technology to add words by sound and context, speak your lines with voice commands to move to the next line and set its type.
- Time-lapse viewer. Watch a sped-up version of your script being written, with custom colors for each writer. You can also select any section of the script (or the entire thing) to look back in time and export a prior version.
And I’m just listing the big ones, there are plenty more. You certainly don’t have to use every feature to be an effective writer, but any of these could save you minutes, hours, days, or even weeks. And when you add them all together, along with all the features WriterDuet has in common with Final Draft, you’re left with one thing:
A superior product, at jut over half the cost.
The world of screenwriting software has changed. Final Draft is still the industry standard, but that’s largely because of inertia, not because they have the best product.
So if you’re looking for software to improve your screenwriting process, I highly recommend you try WriterDuet: the next industry standard.
*There are a few things I know of which Final Draft does better than WriterDuet, and there may be others. Please let me know, so I can add them! There used to be more missing features in WriterDuet, but I constantly add features as routine (free) updates, so that list is shrinking. Here are two kind of important ones where they still have the edge:
- Additional templates. WriterDuet only has screenplay, half hour sitcom, and stageplay. Final Draft has dozens more, and I’ll likely add to my list in the future. But because WriterDuet has customizable margins and line formatting, you can make what you want. And we import the Final Draft template files, if you have them handy.