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on September 18, 2010
Keane does offer a pretty reasonable look at screenwriting, but also professional creative writing in general. He offers his views on the different types of stories that can be written, as well as which medium is more appropriate for what.

For example, he would explain that if you're going for a internal thought heavy story, then you'd probably be better off writing a novel, rather than a screenplay. In this case, he argues that prose expresses internal thoughts better than the visuals of a film.

He provides a pretty thorough rundown of what a screenplay should contain, the structures, and what are the main points you have to focus on, as well as a few personal tricks that he uses to work those things.

He also provides concrete examples to illustrate his points and things he talks about, so that you're not too blind going through the book.

As mentioned, he offers a relatively general look at writing as a profession. This book could work quite well for a beginner who is thinking about writing at a professional level.

However, if you've already read a good amount of books on screenwriting (such as Trottier's The Screenwriter's Bible and others), then what Keane offers is mostly a repeat of what other authors have written about this subject. Although Keane does offer you his own personal view on the matter, most of the content is similar to other 'how to write professionally' books.

This book can be a good read if it is one of your first books about screenwriting. If you already know the basics of writing or have read a lot about it already, then you can probably skip this book.
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on April 2, 2002
Overall, this is very good.
It covers all the main areas to writing a screenplay: Character, plots, story, etc. It covers the formatting stuff, and goes over the business side (getting agent, getting it read).
It has two things some of the other books don't: plenty of little exercises to help get you started. These were very helpful. And a full screenplay of his, with his annotated notes. The screenplay was helpful, particularly for me (a novice) to see how it all comes together.
The only downsides to this book are: 1) it's not as simple, structured, and easy to read as a couple of the others (Charles Deemer's I like alot), 2) The screenplay he wrote is not very good. You'd be better off going to [url] and downloading for free one of the hundreds of scripts there.
However, it did encourage me that if that thing could get optioned, that I could write one that gets optioned too!
If you're a novice, buy Deemer's to read first. If you're a beginner who's got some fundamentals and is starting to get serious, this is the book for you (but skip his script).
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on November 8, 2001
There are so many books on screenwriting already in existence that the real question any reviewer must address when another one comes along is: if you could only afford to buy one of them, why should you buy this one and save the others for any book tokens you might receive at Christmas? The title of this review forms the basis of my answer to that question.
Chris Keane has made his living as a professional writer for decades, focusing mostly on novels and screenplays. His success has brought him many offers of teaching posts, and indeed, he spends a considerable part of each year teaching at Emerson, where he is an Associate Professor, and at the International Film and Television Workshops in Maine. All this makes him actuely aware of the nitty-gritty needs of both the fledgling screenwriter and the writer who has been over the course more than once, but who needs to re-learn key lessons. These lessons are so key that for much of the first part of the book, one feels like one is directing a question and answer session, rather than having questions answered in which one might possibly be interested. From the question of work habits to how to generate ideas, and what to do with them once you have them, through to characterisation, dialogue, and the scene as the nucleus of the screenplay, Keane is both judicious and generous with his hard-won wisdom.
The second half of the book puts theory into practice. It consists of the full text of Keane's screenplay 'The Crossing', with honest, detached critical commentary at the end of each scene or section. This allows the reader to see exactly what Keane is talking about in the first half of the book, to experience the emotion that his own work needs to generate, to feel for the characters, and then, with Keane's assistance, to stop and reflect on why he feels as he does. In the hands of a writer with a bigger ego but less talent, this method might well have had the reader reaching for the sick bag after only a few pages, but it works wonderfully here, and it seems to me that anyone wishing a career in screenwriting could not wish for clearer, more genuine exemplification.
A final point on this structural feature of Keane's indispensable book. Something else the inclusion of this constantly optioned but not yet produced screenplay teaches the would-be screenwriter is how tough his desired career can be, that he could write a screenplay as good as Keane's and still wait a long, long time to see it on the big screen, if indeed he ever does.
Other books on screenwriting claim to 'make it easy'. Keane's puts the emphasis exactly where it should be: on the work.
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on January 4, 2000
This is a clearly written, easily read book that distills lessons derived from the author's long experience in the movie business. Keane is able to express his points purposefully and succinctly, unlike other authors I've read. I'm a playwright who is interested in branching into teleplays, and this is the first book I've read that discusses in detail the differences between teleplays and screenplays. Arguably Keane's book is a bit formulaic, but he'd probably say that he's just describing the formulas which the studios are interested in.
My only qualm was Keane's inclusion of *full text* of one of his own unproduced screenplays, complete with annotations (at one point he says, "WHAT A CLIMAX!"). Yes, the screenplay illustrates his points, but it also seems like a blatant attempt to find another producer. (Sorry, Chris, that's how it seemed.) He could have made the same points with only a few excerpts.
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on November 5, 2001
Keane's approach to screenwriting emphasizes building on the foundations of concept and character, not just plugging variables into a screenplay formula. The chapters are organized in order of importance _for the success of the script,_ always posing tough questions upfront that can save the writer days of rewrite. Every time I start a new project or get stuck on one aspect, I go back to this book relying on it to point out story weaknesses as well as bring up practical business considerations. This guide is the next best thing to a personalized analysis, making the most of your abilities. Keane's anecdotes, advice, and tips carry weight because he writes from inside the entertainment industry, selling scripts that get produced today. From inkling of an idea to finding an agent, Keane's book is the most thorough and definitive screenwriting guide I've ever read.
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on November 3, 2001
Keane's book is a essential for any screenwriter's bookshelf. Not only does it break down the A-Z essential elements of popular screenwriting, but it tackles the difficult subject of how to break into the business. You'd have to buy two or three books by most of the other popular screenwriting gurus to get the gamut of information that Keane packs into this medium size volume. His choice of films to reference as examples of different screenwriting techiniques is excellent and his humour keeps the fledgling writer from being discouraged. Keans writes in optimistic prose that makes you feel your goal is attainable. I read this book before starting my last screenplay and have since moved to Hollywood and had my work open quite a few doors. This is a coherant, reader-friendly how-to book that covers all the bases and is head and shoulders above the rest of its ilk.
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on October 31, 2001
In a world littered with screenwriting books that either overpromise (write a movie in 7days!) or over analyze, turning movies into lists of unrelated statistics, Chris Keane's will give you the tools you need to turn your writing dreams into reality. He doesn't shy away from the hard facts of the writing life, but gives the beginning (and advanced) writer perspective to keep going. His workshop method allows you to see your story in manageable terms. It cures the anxiety of the beginning writer, because it spells out the entire process of taking an idea and executing it. The script I wrote using this method has opened doors for me in Hollywood that I never would have thought I'd even be knocking on three years ago. I continually go back to this book when inspiration lags or I'm feeling stuck.
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on November 28, 2001
If you have an idea for a movie but no idea on how to get started writing a screenplay, this is the book for you. Chris takes you through the fundamental steps necessary to get your thoughts and images on paper with exercises that will have you actually filling up the blank pages before you. His no-nonsense approach will make you look at your idea from 360 degrees making sure you are paying attention to plot, character development, conflict and building a strong story that an agent can 'see'. He manages to take the mystery out of this process and give concrete help and solutions to help you actually get your screenplay written and, most importantly, read.
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on October 30, 2001
I have found Keane's book to be more helpful than Robert McKee's "Story" and Syd Field's "Screenplay" when starting out. Keane is very clear about the steps necessary to write a consistent, engaging script. At the same time, Keane encourages the reader throughout the long and daunting process of writing and revising. I really enjoyed his list of recommended viewing and the way he refers back to these films throughout the book. I used Keane's guide as a reference for writing my first feature film, which subsequently went into production. I also recommend his book to all my students at the film program I run at Harvard University.
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on July 13, 2002
I have never before written a screenplay and Chris' book has really helped me to get started. His method of first writing a 5 page summary of the story in 3 acts and then a scene-breakdown makes it easy to outline and see the entire story in front of you before you actually dive in and begin to write the screenplay. I disagree with what another user said, I enjoyed his script very much that he included as the second half of his book. Not only was it well-written, it is helpful as well, because he stops every scene or two and gives an explanation. I highly recommend this book if you are planning on getting into screenwriting!
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