on December 11, 2003
This book is a quick and entertaining read and if you follow it, you will be able to write a movie in 21 days -- but not a GOOD movie. The book provides a method for producing pages, but gives you nothing about creating a good story, characters, dialogue, or the so very important HOOK. I suggest you read other books, read articles on screenwriting, take a screenwriting class, read good produced screenplays. Go through the process of writing a screenplay with the needed elements -- a screenwriting class can help you do this. Then, after you understand what writing a script is about, then you might be able to use Viki King's book as a discipline guide to help you put out some pages. Fact is, writing a screenplay is NOT easy, NOT quick, and once you've done one and gotten legitimate critique on it, then you will learn what all of the produced screenwriters preach -- writing is re-writing.
on March 20, 2002
As a writer, my biggest problem is slowing down to fix what I'm writing before I've finished writing it. It's very easy for me to get so caught up in making something sound perfect that I never get around to finishing the piece--just write it off as another imperfect work-in-progress and go on to something else.
King's approach gets you writing, writing, writing, writing, writing. You don't even think about editing until the whole story has been written down--even if it's written down in a thoroughly unreadable form. Her reasoning? It's easier to make something good from something mediocre (or even bad) than it is to make something good from nothing.
I've written a few screenplays (none sold yet, doggone it), but only one using exactly the plan outlined in this book. I found that, while her method works and works very well, just going through it once showed me where the span of my writing approach needed her kind of support and where it stood firmly on my own abilities.
I continue to use her 8-minute exercises because they are wonderful for getting you writing while preventing you from thinking about writing: if you only have 8 minutes to cover a topic, you'd better get those words onto paper as fast as you can. 8 minutes is the perfect limit because it's enough to get a substantial amount written--but only if you don't spend your time diddling with the words. Longer than 8 minutes and an old diddler like me will be tempted to diddle.
I don't use her "write 20 pages in 2 hours" approach, but I do write each scene in a block from beginning to end without stopping, for as many pages as that first visceral "heart draft" of the scene needs to be.
It's been a long time since I've read this book--though I do give it a once-over before I start a project--and many things she teaches in it have stuck with me as personal approaches to writing. It's a small book, but that's only because she doesn't waste time getting to her point.
A very rich find--it should serve every screenwriter well.
on January 12, 2004
I roll my eyes and sigh every time a screenwriting book mentions tired old forumula's and routine screenplay templates such as plot point number 2 has to fall on page 45 or the turning point has to be on page 90, etc.
This book is riddled with them.
However, I found this book to be a nice roadmap for the writer who deliberates much too much in their head and thusly produces nothing in effect. I followed the 21 days writing excercise and managed to get a first draft on paper roughly around 27 days.
For that alone, I recommend this book. But if you want to learn how to 'write', don't look for any book to teach you that. It's true that every story has a beginning, middle, and end but when you rely on Hollywood standards you end up with a generic film script.
on April 10, 2001
I owe this book a debt in that it got me off ground zero in writing a script that is finally (many years later) starting to get some real exposure in the film business. It is a very motivational book and breaks the process down into easy to understand steps.
But...think more like 21 weeks, or even 21 months, or more, to produce a quality script. It takes that long, especially if you are new to the process, to really let the subject percolate and allow for objectivity and careful re-drafting. And if your subject is very complex and requires a great deal of research, as mine did, add even more time.
Where the book is entirely unrealistic is in suggesting that one will be successful right away in the film business with scripts cranked out in a mere 21 says, so therefore should treat one's "day job" as simply a means to an end, even to the point of using one's employer's resources to further that end. The author even claims that that's wise. Don't do that! You'll probably need that job a lot longer than you think. Remember that your employer owns your time while you are there and the job's resources, and could get very ugly if you don't honor that.
I found Syd Field's books on the subject to be more helpful and realistic, as well as motivational.
on January 16, 2000
I thought this book was the strangest I've ever read regarding screenwriting. Screenwriting and spirituality may or may not mix, but spirituality really has nothing to do with writing a good screenplay! I have to agree with the previous reviewer who gave the book one star and say that I, too, found little practical advice in this book and the premise is even stranger. Why 21 days? Why does the author suggest that we whip out a screenplay in only 21 days? Isn't quality better than speed. I recommend Syd Field and Lajos Egri instead. Both are real pros and their books offer much detail and useful advice.
on December 15, 2001
Viki's system is a good kick in the pants. It motivates you to write, but it forces a three-act structure on your screenplay. Great for "Lethal Weapon" and the like, but a bit intolerant for something more innovative.
But typing "Lethal Weapon" in 21 days is a good deal as well! Not a bad intro to screenwriting, but not great. Take her page-by-day deadlines and apply it to something with deeper character structure initially.
on February 4, 2002
In this short (less than 200 pages) book, Viki King explores both a method for writing a movie and some of the basic issues that all writers must face from time to time. Although King is writing specifically about the movie business, her lessons are generally applicable to all types of writing. King addresses issues such as what to write, how to go about writing, and how to overcome obstacles.
Writers are frequently faced with the challenge of how to write when the rest of the world is calling on us to do something else. King's suggestions on the 'junk job,' writing with (or without) partners, and creating time and place to write are universals that are valuable to all types of writers. I also enjoyed some of her tricks--creating the whole book with blank paper and an end note, then filling in the rest as you went--to overcome writers block. Writers who want to explore screenwriting, or who just want to look at writing from a different slant will enjoy HOW TO WRITE A MOVIE IN 21 DAYS.
Although I don't write screenplays, I re-read How to Write... occasionally just to remind myself of what I'm trying to do (write novels) and how to keep the priorities of my life straight. My wife, who does write screenplays, has adapted the Viki King approach to meet her needs--she finds that having her task for the day set out makes it a lot easier to get it done than if she was just given the formatting and plot and had to take it from there.
If you've ever thought about writing a movie, or if you're a writer looking for a little inspiration, I highly recommend this book.
on July 5, 2001
"How to Write a Movie in 21 Days: The Inner Movie Method" is a MUST HAVE for any beginning writer. I read Viki King's book prior to writing my first screenplay and was completely hyped to begin writing.
Probably, like most writers who have read (or will read) her book, I believed I could stick to the 21-day Writing Schedule she outlines. Ok, a little honesty here, I was certain I could finish my project in less time because I knew my story and my characters like the back of my hand. This was no big deal.
Wrong! Everything Viki said would happen, did happen. Some days I would write aimlessly and other days it was pure genius. When I completed my screenplay, I was on top of the world! However, when I realized I had 200 total pages, I dreaded climbing the mountain of Editing! As I trimmed it back 80 pages for industry standard, I felt like I was being asked to give my child up for adoption! As I reread my script and looked to see if I had honestly told my character's story, I realized I had not.
However, as I kept picking her book up and reading it, and reading it, and READING IT some more, Viki's voice came through very calm, almost as if to say "we've all been there, it's going to be fine." So, I didn't finish my screenplay in 21 days, but I did finish it, thanks to Viki.
on October 4, 2000
I'll admit, I put off buying this book for some time. C'mon. A movie in 21 days? I'm not into "get-rich" quick scams. So I bought other books, and more books, and finally this one. I love it. I honestly don't think anyone will write a movie in 21 days by using this book and in my opinion the title should be changed. But what I love most about this book is this - *it gets you writing*.
I was sitting there with about a dozen good ideas but not really doing anything with them. Sure, I'd sit down and peck out my thoughts on one of them every day - procrastinating in the guise of progress - and then Viki King's book arrived in the mail. Through her writing I learned how to pick the best idea from my pool of several, how to develop it, and how to write it in the most effective way. Her main point is that we write from our hearts and then rewrite from our heads. She clearly instructs the writer how to accomplish this seemingly intangible task.
The book is also filled with great tidbits on various aspects of the writing life... paying the bills until you sell a script, dealing with loved ones, etc.
And lastly, as I mentioned earlier, this book gets you into gear and *writing*. She provides several easy and productive "assignments" that move you in the direction of completing your script. I hope this was helpful!
on January 28, 2000
...at least not one that's actually sellable, or that has enough depth and craftsmanship to survive in the real-world marketplace. To think otherwise is to be laughably naive. Having said that, I strongly recommend this book!
Why the discrepancy? Simple. I've been writing for years, off and on. I've read dozens of screenwriting books, and taken a few of the big screenwriting courses. I've started writing about 50 screenplays, and completed about 3 of them.
One of the troubles I had (sound familiar?), is that I would begin writing, get about 30 or 40 pages into it, and then stop. Either I went off-course, I began to hate my concept or characters, thought my writing was atrocious, or came up with "a better idea." The result? Dozens of half-completed screenplays.
A writer writes. And writing is re-writing. You'll never fully appreciate these clichés until you ACTUALLY SIT DOWN AND WRITE! And don't stop!
The script I wrote when I actually APPLIED this book (about 2 years after I bought it) was written in about 48 days. Hmmph! But you know what? It was WRITTEN. It was complete. It was my first, fully-completed screenplay. And it was actually pretty darn good.
Truth be told, when you finish writing the script Viki King helps you get out on paper, it will likely be only a FIRST DRAFT. Chances are, there'll be a lot more work to do. Re-writing. Making it more organic. Adding depth and breadth to your characters. Expanding your subplots and building elements necessary to your story that Viki's book overlooks (things experience will teach you). But if you've never written a screenplay before (or never completed one you like), this book will talk you through it. And it will give you the basic tools needed to actually complete it. Because before you can re-write, hone, and perfect... you need to get it on paper in the first place!
Make no mistake about it. If you buy into the idea that you'll get this book and have a sellable screenplay a month later, you'll be disappointed. You're not a writer. You're a get-rich-quick wishful thinker. Writing screenplays is a tough business, let alone a difficult process. It just doesn't happen overnight.
The power and beauty of this book is its ability (if you actually FOLLOW it) to help you get through the battle that happens inside, when you sit down to write. It will get your script on paper. It will make you a writer. The quality of your writing gets better with experience. Applying the principles of this book will give you that experience.
Also: Others have accused this book of being "spiritual". It's not. It's motivational, it's inspirational, it's conversational. Just what a first-time or would-be writer needs to overcome his battle with himself.
Some people talk. Other people act. Those who act will get value out of this book.
As I write this review, the script I wrote (in, umm, 48 days) is currently in post-production. And the script I'm working on now is even better.
It's a process. And this is a wonderful first step. A wonderful tool to help you through the self-imposed barriers to succeeding at this craft.