on September 22, 2003
This is one of the weakest scriptwriting book I have ever read. The author's references are dated, and the examples she uses from her own writing (episodes of "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Starsky and Hutch") are hardly good guidelines for any new writer to follow.
The book is useful for its occasional pearls of wisdom (the main character should be in the first and/or last scene of every act), but the beginning writer would be confused by her explanation of structure. As for her guidelines on format and marketing--who knows how much has changed since 1990?
A new edition might be worth a look. For the novice writer, though, you're better off learning how to write screenplays and applying that knowledge to television. See authors like Christopher Vogler, Michael Hauge, and Michael Chase Walker.
on September 25, 1998
Not bad or misleading, but this book doesn't compare well with others in this genre.
A better title would have been: "How to Make a Living Through Bad Television."
Examples used include Fantasy Island and Starsky and Hutch. Professionally written, but someone's going to have to spend a few aeons in Art Purgatory for those stinkburgers.
To be fair, the generic info is helpful if you have no other information, but there are several better books out there. For sitcoms, try: "Successful Sitcom Writing."
on March 28, 2002
Well, we all have opinions, and I must disagree with the prior reviewer. Perhaps he did the Evyln Woods speed read on this book. Madeline is an experienced and gifted screenwriter with her finger on the pulse of the motivations that drive character and create the conflicts that move plot to resolution. This book is a FUN READ, informative, and insightful. It is used as a teaching text at USC and is the product of Madeline's extensive experience writing for television. I have been fortunate enough to attend two screenwriting courses taught by Madeline (I have done many of the other "famed" teacher's seminars also) and found her to be genuine, inspired, open, practical, visionary and experienced enough to know the hoops you need to jump through and the order in which to do it. Her classes we leagues above the others - primarily because she never loses sight of the dynamics of characters and their inherent flaws.
'How to Write for Television' is one of the best books on this subject available anywhere.