BELA LAMPERT

Yoga Instructor
Optioned Screenwriter

Can You Use Final Draft For Book Writing


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Simple answer: Yes, you can.

But would you want to?

There are a couple of things that you should keep in mind before you start writing your novel in Final Draft.

The version I’m using for the purpose of demonstration here is Version 11.

Book Templates

Final Draft has a couple of templates for book authors ready, of which you’re most probably going to use the “Novel” template.

The novel template is basically just like any other script document in Final Draft, just the formatting is a little different. 

You have the template filled with some sample text and if you go to the formatting elements you see that the formatting element is set to “General”. All the other kinds of formatting elements wouldn’t make sense for anything that is not a script.

The Font

The font is set by default to the same Courier Final Draft Font as the script templates. You can change that of course, I just suppose that you might want to use a different font for writing a novel, since there is no necessity (other than with movie scripts) to use a 12 point courier type.

Exporting

As far as exporting goes, you have the same possibilities as with any other script file in Final Draft, you can export in pdf, Final Draft fdx format, and a couple of other text formats like simple text and rtf, which is Rich Text Format.

Conclusion

So, yes, you can write a novel in Final Draft because Final Draft is a text editor. And theoretically you could write a novel in any text editor you like, even on the notepad or in TextEdit on the Mac.

The problem is that for writing novels, Final Draft gives you nothing else than a pretty basic text editor. 

And that’s it.

Because all the other bells and whistles are made for movie scripts.

You can’t use the navigator because that only works for scenes. And scenes need a slugline element, which you don’t use in novels.

The Notes feature only works on a paragraph by paragraph basis, something that is excusable in a movie script where a paragraph is 4 lines maximum. But in a novel? How would someone know to which part of a half-page paragraph the note belongs?

Next, you don’t have styles. Final Draft doesn’t work with styles like Heading 1, Heading 2, and so forth. Because it’s for movie scripts. It’s not made for writing novels in mind.

And that’s exactly the problem. Yes, you could somehow fiddle with the formatting elements and make them useable for you somehow. But even then you wouldn’t have styles.

So what Final Draft did was cram the novel template in there somewhere to make it appear it’s for novelists too – which is an assumption on my part – but they don’t give you the tools that really help you.

I bet – and to be honest I didn’t check that out – but I bet you can get a lot more features for novelists if you go to LibreOffice, download the free text editor and go with that. 

Because what Final Draft is if you strip all the screenwriting functionality away is: it’s a very simple, basic text editor.

Which is fine for screenwriters, don’t get me wrong.

And I have to say I’m not a novelist but I just can’t imagine that it would be a satisfying experience to write a novel in there. 

I’m sorry, I just can’t.

Especially considering the price.

Now, the novel template might be useful for someone if you have Final Draft anyway and you like the formatting of the template and you don’t care about all the stuff you don’t have.

OK. Great. Go ahead. Nobody’s stopping you.

But I personally would never buy Final Draft in order write a novel. There are way better solutions out there for a way better price. Or even free.

So, if one of you actually has written a novel in Final Draft and you would do it again, let me know because I’d be really interested about having that conversation.

OK, everybody that’s it.

Keep on writing!

Bye.