Friday, 31 October 2008

REVIEWS: 2nd Edition, 2003 (

By Frederic Woodbridge “Fred”
[November 11th, 2007]
5 Stars

"Teach Yourself Screenwriting" is a compendium of all things screenwriting. Really. This book takes two pages to fully explain what other books would use a chapter for, and considering its topic, that's incredible.

The author subscribes to the three-act structure theory of storytelling, one to which I also subscribe. However, later in the book--and this goes to show just how in-depth this book is--the author covers other theories of structure in a chapter titled "Structural Variations", like `The Hero's Journey' approach and multi-plotting.

I think the secret to "Teach Yourself..." is the use of a lavish amount of diagrams, flow-charts, and tables all of which are dense with information. Every few pages, the author invites the reader to apply what they have learned in small boxed-off sections, such as this one in the `Enhancing Emotion' chapter:

"In Four Weddings And A Funeral, examine the way the David character (Charles's deaf and mute brother) is handled--he has a critical role in the final wedding; we first see him only in passing, standing in the background at the first wedding reception. We next encounter him outside the cinema, and only then do we realize just who he is--and we are already one third into the film. Why was this held back for so long? Now watch Road To Perdition and note the recurring use of Michael Jr's illustrated book of The Lone Ranger ".

I don't know if I would be comfortable suggesting this as the only book on screenwriting for a novice (Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting is an incredible resource) but it brilliantly summarizes many if not all of the concepts of screenwriting.

The only negative I can summon up (and I had to struggle for this one) is with the physical book itself: when I read, I like to mark certain important pages with post-it notes. Considering just how dense this book is, that's quite a number of post-it notes. I discovered with some disappointment that post-its pull up the ink when removed.

I would go so far as to say this book must be in every screenwriter's library. MUST.

By Zetazen “Sunrai”
[June 10th, 2007]
5 Stars

This is one of the easiest screenwriting books I have read. I have read various books on screenwriting like Screenwriting for Dummies, The Screenwriter's Bible, Making a Good Script Great, and How to Build a Great Screenplay to name a few.

The author takes the reader through every nook and cranny about writing screenplays. The reader is introduced to technical (screenplay layout, dialogue, and scene headings) parts of screenplays, thinking creatively, flushing out your characters, and lastly how the industry works.
The book also has a good section on screenplay internet resources. Use the book as a handy companion screenwriting guide.

by V. Todosijevic “A reader frin Belgrade” (Belgrade, Serbia)
[January 3rd, 2007]
4 Stars

This is a very good book. Almost everything about screenwriting is covered. And even more, it has a great pool of information sources pertained to screenwriting.

But, despite its title, it is not a good textbook for a beginning screenwriter, perhaps because it is written in an encyclopaedia style. Although I cannot say it is boring, I cannot say it is easy and fun for reading either.

I don't think you should read it as your first book. I would suggest any of those instead: Writing Screenplays That Sell (Michael Hauge), How to Write a Selling Screenplay (Christopher Keane), Writing Your Screenplay (Cynthia Whitcomb), or Writing the Screenplay (Alan Armer) - which I think is the best of all four.

By De Angelis Paolo (Italy)
[September 29th, 2005]
5 Stars

I have had time to read just a few pages, but you immediately feel this book has got "the right stuff".

I recommend it!

By “Shock Therapy Publishing” (USA)
[October 1st, 2004]
4 Stars

I appreciate this book, as a tool for starting out. I am working on my first script, which is based upon my first book. Thanks for the great reviews, and experience from the other writers. This is like a peer group, smash it or trash it session. Good Luck to all of you.

I also purchased the "MOVIE MAGIC SCREENWRITING" software. Next books will be: "The Screenwriter's Bible" and "How NOT to Write a Screenplay"

By Barbara :LeMaster “Bibliophile” (Florida, USA)
[April 29th, 2004]
5 Stars

Ray Frensham's guide to screenwriting encompasses everything one needs to know before sitting down in front of the computer or with a pad of paper and a pencil. He explains how to adapt fictional material for a screenplay or how to give life to an original idea. He also includes exercises such as watching films and critiquing them. The difficult subjects of character development and story structure are thoroughly covered.

You put the book down after reading just a chapter and feel as though you could write a screenplay that day. Frensham also includes suggested reading at the end of each chapter and a plethora of websites (some no longer functional, however) for writers to market their work.

By Sandwich (Victoria, Australia)
[February 9th, 2004]
5 Stars

I spent over an hour browsing and skimming through all the highly accredited, big name screenwriting books. I found that this one, above all, was the most informative. Whilst some of the others were more helpful with generally improving your writing skills and story structure, etc, this one covers the fundamentals and is more ideal for those at a beginner level.

Basically, it covers the same ground as the others but narrows it down to basic, comprehensive to-the-point terms and guidelines. Not to say that it is brief or fast-paced. It is very helpful in the sense that it covers most areas extensively with many added points and examples. I found that next to none of the other books went over the actual screenplay layout and overall structure. There was barely anything about the camera or scene direction. They were more about visual thinking, developing your own style and being competitive in the modern industry. This book explains all of that and also encourages you to explore alternative source material.

I recommend this book to all beginners. It will inspire and motivate you and possibly provide you with the sort of answers you start out with. Start with this one, it is definitely shelf-worthy and good to just pick up and read a particular section if you're unsure about something. The most important thing to do in the end is write! Don't just talk about it, do it!

by NTT (California, USA)
[October 8th, 2003]
5 Stars

I've read other books about screenwriting but I was always somewhat disappointed with them. I realized why after I read "Teach Yourself Screenwriting." It's the only book I've seen on the subject that is really complete and comprehensive. All others have too many shortcomings. What I loved most was the way the book provides a detailed analysis of the structure of a good screenplay, clearly outlining the three act structure, the make up of scenes, the use of inciting incidents and turning points, etc. It gives specific examples of all of these elements from great scripts like "Witness."

The only criticism I have is that it is a little vague about subtext and dialogue. Instead of abstract descripions of these elements I would like to see examples. For example, the author could have given several examples of good dialogue side-by-side with examples of bad dialogue, etc. But overall I found the book to be very well-written and extremely helpful. I utilized it extensively while I was writing my first screenplay which is now going through the Screenwriters' Workshop on Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope site and is getting good reviews. I certainly give credit for this to what I learned from this book.

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