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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
on February 3, 2004
I think I might have thought more highly of this book if I hadn't tackled it right after I read "How Not to Write a Screenplay" by Denny Martin Flinn. Flinn's guide to the most common pitfalls in screenwriting is a wonderfully funny and instructive text that every writer should own. This book, while containing some helpful nuggets, offers a lot of advice that directly contradicts Flinn's. While Ms. Lerch obviously has no obligation to align herself with Flinn's advice, her comments often seemed counter-intuitive to me. Whereas Flinn instructs us to be as clear and succinct as possible, shaving away all unnecessary and confusing descriptions (i.e., don't write what the audience can't see), Lerch would have us add all sorts of superfluous character and location description, in the hopes of catching the eye of an already-exhausted Hollywood script reader.
I just have a hard time believing that this approach would really work. I've studied screenwriting with some of the best teachers in the business, and I've got to say that their tips generally fall into the "less is more" camp.
Having said that, the book is a quick, easy read, and there are many tidbits which do make sense, especially about ratcheting up the conflict in your script. By no means, however, should this be the only book on screenwriting you buy, but it can serve as a light after-dinner mint following a hearty meal of "How Not to Write A Screenplay."
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on August 18, 2001
As much as I enjoyed this book, I have to take a couple points off. It's a good read and I highly recommend it. It has some real flaws.
One, it assumes you are using the three act paradigm. If you are using it, this is bound to really help you bring your story out. If you are not using it, it can still be helpful, but not nearly as much so.
Two, it repeats itself too much. It's more like 200 ways restated several times.
Three, this book is written for people who are trying to sell. It should give more credit to its readers. It should assume that they know how to format and have the basics of story structure. But, it doesn't. There are enough books written already that deal with the basics of screenwriting. This book would have been better if it focused on the more minute details that a writer is likely to overlook. It's really an elementry screenwriting book masked as a how-to sell book.
All these things aside, there are things to be learned here. It's written from the perspective of actual readers. It's good to know what you are dealing with when you are sending your material out.
It's a bit frightening when you realize that this book written by a reader based on input from other readers is so strongly pushing the three-act/hero's journey formulas.
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on December 21, 2000
This shouldn't be the first, or even the third, book you buy on screenwriting--there are better ones on the storytelling craft--but, as someone who's read scripts, I have to admit some of the author's points on packaging, for want of a better word, are on-target--particularly when she stresses how crucial the first pages and the length of the script are. Most scripts are much too long, far too similar, and don't move fast and with a momentum that grabs that reader's attention. A script the author may have slaved for months over often just becomes the one on the top of the pile to a beleagured and bored script reader, so a writer confident enough to just get to the point and get to the story has a huge advantage. Screenwriting is far from as cut-and-dried or formulaic as this book's author makes it sound, and there's a couple of 100 of the 500 points that are just common sense, but her snappy advice is a refreshing change, or addition, to the host of more studious tomes on the topic.
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on August 29, 2000
This is an aid to selling, but not writing a screenplay. Getting past the reader is one thing, but in my experience it's getting a screenplay into the hands of an agent that's more important. If you can't get an agent and you have to hustle your screenplay on your own, this is helpful. But if you're looking for tips on writing the thing, look elsewhere. I liked The Writer's Journey and The Screenwriter Within.
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This is an extremely thin book (175 pages) and most of it is the same old stuff we've heard: 61-63 Make your Characters Distinct. Yea, right.
But other parts are very useful, 222: The opening sequence ... runs between 10-15 pages and contains between 3-5 scenes.
Others I'm still pondering, 8: Get a Los Angeles phone number.
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