How to Write Great Screenplays: And Get Them into Production by Linda M James
|How to Write Great Screenplays: And Get Them into Production by Linda M James|
|Reviewer: Jason Mark Curley|
|Summary: A great how-to book for the novice scriptwriter.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? No|
|Pages: 190||Date: January 2009|
|Publisher: How To Books Ltd|
Over my time at university I've sat on a few scriptwriting modules. I'm currently working on a couple of projects with my scriptwriting partner, with whom I've already completed a pilot TV show. So it was nice to be asked to review this book and get some more insight into this field of writing.
I've probably read most every book on Creative Writing that you've ever heard of and a lot that you're probably not aware of. When it comes to scriptwriting, there really is only one book that's worth comparing anything else in the field with: Robert McKee's Story. It's so heavily touted that I've seen it recommended by experts in novel writing – a quite different craft.
Overall I liked James' book. She has a very practical and businesslike take on scriptwriting. This book is very short yet quite compact and effectively delivers the most essential information in all areas of concern in the craft of scriptwriting. It's broad enough to make this worth buying, yet not so deep or overly-technical as to put off the novice.
There are sections on preparing to write, outlines, three-act structure, openings, scene construction, style, dialogue, genres, right down to how to format your script correctly. The pace of the book is fast and James gives you the most basic tools which, if followed, should enable you to write a professional looking script with a coherent plot that could generate industry interest.
What it doesn't do is deliver the topics in any real depth in the way that McKee's book does so well. However, the other substantial aspect of this book is that it also contains a lot of advice on industry and what it expects, from how to write treatments to listing organisations which are out there to help screenwriters; from copywriting your work to showing you how to market it.
The appendices are also fantastic, listing websites which offer sample scripts to download, legal information on options and agreements – including some sample options and agreements contracts. There is also a section on software for screenwriters and I was both happy and surprised to see Celtx listed there: an absolutely free piece of software for screenwriting, which I've been using for the past few years.
In giving this book a score I've really had to think about what this book is promising and if it delivers. This is an introduction to the concepts of screenwriting that, with a hell of a lot of work and perseverance, will take your scriptwriting from the basics to a good and near professional level. If you have no or little experience of scriptwriting I would seriously consider making this book your first choice. For that, it has to get five stars. You may also wonder why I've put a No to borrowing this book, it's simple; if you're writing a screenplay you're going to want this book right by your side.
Of course, I would also recommend Story by Robert Mckee and The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler, but maybe when you're a little further down the line.
Thanks to the publishers for sending me this book to review.
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You can read more book reviews or buy How to Write Great Screenplays: And Get Them into Production by Linda M James at Amazon.com.
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