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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Books  /  How Not to Write a Screenplay
Posted by: Electric Dreamer, January 5th, 2012, 2:27pm
Just finished reading this easy to understand nuts and boltsy book.
A feature film producer I'm working for recommended I give it a look see.
Full of great tips for the beginner to intermediate level amateur crowd.
The author tells you what to avoid to get past those pesky development readers.
I dig the litany of straightforward advice to simply avoid sucking.
Chock full of useful things to make a good impression at the studio system entry level.
Loaded with fun to read screenplay examples to illustrate the lessons.
A very breezy read and already applying lessons learned in my current assignment.


Posted by: Grandma Bear, January 5th, 2012, 3:13pm; Reply: 1
I have a few books on screenwriting. Can't say I have read them though... Pretty much the only one I have read is that one!! :D
Posted by: leitskev, January 5th, 2012, 3:40pm; Reply: 2
Yeah, I read that one when I was doing my first script. Solid stuff.

One I really recommend is Story by McKee. That's one you can go back to several times and come away with something different each time.
Posted by: Reef Dreamer, January 5th, 2012, 4:20pm; Reply: 3
Kevin, that's useful.

I have this next to my bed and have been meaning to read it but so far have found lots of reasons not to. Knowing it is decent at least takes that excuse away.
Posted by: Electric Dreamer, January 5th, 2012, 5:17pm; Reply: 4

Quoted from Grandma Bear
I have a few books on screenwriting. Can't say I have read them though... Pretty much the only one I have read is that one!! :D


This one and the Goldman books have served me well.
If you have to pick just one, I think you made a solid choice!

Checking out Pen Densham's career strategy book next.
http://www.amazon.com/Riding-Alligator-Strategies-Screenplay-Writing/dp/193290784X

E.D.
Posted by: bert, January 5th, 2012, 5:42pm; Reply: 5
I read this one over Christmas:



More amusing than helpful -- I can recommend it for the former more than the latter -- but it does read lightening quick, as it is more a collection of anecdotes than anything else.

It is safe to say that Eszterhas is madly in love with Eszterhas -- and half the book actually reads like one long post from our pal, Balt -- so that kind of makes it even funnier in a way.
Posted by: B.C., January 5th, 2012, 5:49pm; Reply: 6
Eszterhas' autobiography 'Hollywood Animal' is entertaining as well.

He slags off Mckee alot, which is always welcome.

:)
Posted by: Eoin, January 5th, 2012, 5:51pm; Reply: 7
I have been gifted with a number of screenwriting books over Christmas, maybe the person who gave them to me has read some of my working and is hinting at something :)

Reading at the moment:

500 ways to beat the hollywood script reader - Jennifer Lerch
Screenplay - the foundations of screenwriting - Syd Field
Posted by: leitskev, January 5th, 2012, 6:35pm; Reply: 8
I checked this one out recently at the library. Worth checking out if they have it at your local branch.

Writing the Character Centered Screenplay by Andrew Horton.

I like reading discussions that are contrary to some of the things we normally think or assume. What I took from this was a consideration of what we need to know about a character's history. Not just the audience, but even the writer. One would maybe assume that the more we know about a character, the more that character is fleshed out, the more depth the character has. Kind of like a person's personality is the sum of its parts, the experiences that shape him.

Horton points out that this is not quite true. Even with people in your real life, does knowing everything about their history necessarily help you know them better? does it necessarily determine their actions?

Horton points out that while it is useful to know some of a character's formative experiences, we also want a level of mystery. Sometimes characters do things not because of something that happened to them in their past, but simply because it's who they are. And as with real people, there should be a level of unpredictability to a character's actions. He calls this carnivalesque. He compares it to a New Orleans Mardis Gras procession which has a rhyme and a rhythm, but does not march according to a planned path. They wander where they wander.

He examines Silence of the Lambs. The Jodie Foster character is revealed through discussions about her father, a cop killed in the line. This explains much, but not all of the character's motivation. On the other hand, Lectre, one of the more interesting characters in film history, is someone we know next to nothing about regarding his past(not in the original film anyway).

It's a good read, a quick read. It's changed some of my thinking on character construction...not that it means I write good ones now!
Posted by: cloroxmartini, January 6th, 2012, 3:00am; Reply: 9
Sounds like "500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader"
Posted by: The Working Screenwriter, January 11th, 2012, 4:22pm; Reply: 10
...and there's always this one, which won't necessarily give you the nuts and bolts info that
How NOT to Write a Screenplay will, but will more than likely get you all fired up and inspired...


http://theworkingscreenwriter.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-book-is-now-e-book.html
Posted by: albinopenguin, January 20th, 2012, 1:45pm; Reply: 11
Reading this right now, and it's absolutely amazing. There are a few debatable points, but overall it's been incredibly insightful. Only 50 pages in and I've learned so much. Highly recommended.
Posted by: mmmarnie, January 20th, 2012, 2:51pm; Reply: 12
Just ordered my copy!  Thanks for the recommendation ED and thanks for making the book the link to the Amazon page!  :D
Posted by: MacDuff, January 20th, 2012, 3:37pm; Reply: 13
Interesting - don't think I have come across this one. Will need to pick it up.

Whenever I'm in need of some refresher's and inspiration, I read Stephen King's "On Writing" book. It's not necessarily about screenwriting, and not everyone is a fan of King, but I find it very informative. Especially how he breaks things down into a writer's "toolbox."
Posted by: mmmarnie, January 20th, 2012, 3:42pm; Reply: 14
@ Mac...I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE "On Writing".  I read it then bought it on CD and listen to it in my car.  :D
Posted by: Pii, January 20th, 2012, 6:43pm; Reply: 15
How Not to Write a Screenplay? That's easy: Stop typing!

I don't know how that needed to be a book...
Posted by: MacDuff, January 20th, 2012, 7:13pm; Reply: 16

Quoted from mmmarnie
@ Mac...I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE "On Writing".  I read it then bought it on CD and listen to it in my car.  :D


I didn't know it was on CD. Thanks for the heads up!
Posted by: irish eyes, January 20th, 2012, 11:00pm; Reply: 17
I`m a big fan of The Screenwriter`s Bible by David Trottier.

Very Informative.

Mark
Posted by: Electric Dreamer, January 21st, 2012, 1:41pm; Reply: 18

Quoted from albinopenguin
Reading this right now, and it's absolutely amazing. There are a few debatable points, but overall it's been incredibly insightful. Only 50 pages in and I've learned so much. Highly recommended.


Glad to hear it!
I'm so stoked I read this before starting a spec assignment.
All those great screenplay snippets really drove home the lessons.
Predator, Lethal Weapon, Romancing the Stone, Braveheart.....
It just goes on and on. Love reading Shane Black's early stuff.
Snagged a Like New used copy for $6 with shipping. Money VERY well spent!

Regards,
E.D.
Posted by: Electric Dreamer, January 21st, 2012, 1:44pm; Reply: 19

Quoted from mmmarnie
Just ordered my copy!  Thanks for the recommendation ED and thanks for making the book the link to the Amazon page!  :D


Hey, I'd be in the writing closet without SS and its forum members.
So, it's the least I can do to pay it forward!

I hope you're just as excited as I was about writing a new script after reading it.

Cheers,
E.D.
Posted by: CoopBazinga, January 21st, 2012, 2:07pm; Reply: 20
I have just ordered my copy today, you should ask for some royalties ED. ;D

Steve
Posted by: Electric Dreamer, January 22nd, 2012, 3:33am; Reply: 21

Quoted from CoopBazinga
I have just ordered my copy today, you should ask for some royalties ED. ;D

Steve


LOL! Steve, sure there isn't a little literary agent inside you somewhere? ;)

Hope you get as much out of that book as I did!

Regards,
E.D.
Posted by: CoopBazinga, February 15th, 2012, 2:22pm; Reply: 22
Finished reading this yesterday, really insightful.

Thanks for the recommendation, Brett. :)
Posted by: Felipe, February 15th, 2012, 5:40pm; Reply: 23
This book is the first screenwriting book I ever read. It was very helpful. I usually take these in with a grain of salt as they usually claim to have the definitive answer on how to write. Obviously that's not the case, but you can always take something away from them.

In my case, they get me in the mood to write.
Posted by: Electric Dreamer, February 16th, 2012, 1:34pm; Reply: 24

Quoted from Felipe
This book is the first screenwriting book I ever read. It was very helpful. I usually take these in with a grain of salt as they usually claim to have the definitive answer on how to write. Obviously that's not the case, but you can always take something away from them.

In my case, they get me in the mood to write.



Quoted from CoopBazinga
Finished reading this yesterday, really insightful.

Thanks for the recommendation, Brett. :)


Glad the book worked for you guys.
I would've never picked it up had it not been recommended by a colleague.
It's helping me a great deal with a spec feature film project I'm revising.

The producer wanted me to get a flavor of some of his favorite screenwriters.
And that book is loaded with awesome screenplay snippets.
William Goldman. Shane Black. Diane Thomas. Walter Hill. All great stuff!

He also said something that really gave me some pause...

"Most of the scripts I sold had decent stories.
But they all had a great voice on the page.
That's what got me paid more than anything."


So, I've been trying to take that lesson to heart and this book helped a lot! ;D

Regards,
E.D.
Posted by: Kip, February 16th, 2012, 1:49pm; Reply: 25
I read "How to write great screenplays and get them into production".

A pretty good read, but looking at my efforts, I must've read it upside down.
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