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Mark Allen
Director , Screenwriter , Composer
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Screenwriting: Resources

Before I launch into some thoughts about writing in the next couple days I thought I'd put a list together of books and resources.

There are so many books now... I've not read a lot of them - especially any written in the last five years - but this list will make for a fine self study writing course.

START WITH

Story- Robert McKee.     This book helps to define what story is.

Adventures in the ScreenTrade- William Goldman.   This is not a very academic book, but you will learn a great deal from it despite being entertained.  It actually teaches you some great writing concepts while demonstrating them in his own writing.

Screenwriting:  The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing - Richard Walter.     This book could be replace with or augmented by a number of books including on by Lew Hunter.  I think it's good to get this perspective on scrīptwriting.

Making a Good scrīpt Great -  Linda Seger      "All writing is rewriting" it is often said.  You must have the ability to look at your material as a work in progress and I think this book helps underscore how to look at your material from that perspective and how to improve it.

CONTINUE WITH:

Poetics - Aristotle.   It's a short book whcih you should have read at some point because people will refer to it and you should know what they mean.  A lot of the ideas are antiquated, but I think it's good to think about them anyway.

Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell.     Campbell studied mythology in various cultures through out history and came up with a formula which is so obsessively followed by most studio exectuives, it's a little scary.  But you must know his theories if you want to write.  There are entire film courses dedicated to showing how to step by step make your stories into this same paradigm.  I do not perscribe to that as a good idea - but that does not mean this isn't a great book.

The Art of Dramatic Writing- Lejos Egri.    Frankly, I find this book a little long winded and boring.  Some people find it their favorite writing book.  I think what it does do is underscore how important character development is in writing.  So, I put it on this list conditionally in that I think the information is important but I wish it were about 1/5 the verbage.

Stealing Fire From the Gods - James Bonnet.    I love this book.  I think it is the first time since Joseph Campbell that someone is presenting a trutly unique perspective on the question of "what is story."  Just when I thought I could not reead one more original theory on writing, i found this book and was very inspired by it.

SCREENPLAYS

Also - you need to read and think about screenplays.  Lots of them.   Good ones, bad ones - tons of them... Here are some free resources for that:

Simply scrīpts

More scrīpts

WEBSITES

http://wordplayer.com/  These guys are pretty famous writers now.  They have a very large free archive of articles on writing.  IF ANIMATION IS YOUR THING - there is no better US writing source than these guys.

http://scrīptsecrets.net/  This guy is great at making the nuts and bolts of writing simple to understand.  There is a lot of free information here.

over 14 years ago 0 likes  14 comments  0 shares
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I think if there is only one book fo the list to read - it's STORY by McKee. Just because it gets at the essence of what story is without being too specialized.
over 14 years ago
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I just added two more websites. estherr - even if you're not a writer - READ STORY - anyone involved in movies should read it. Also the mere fact that you don't think you're a good writer makes me think you could be a great writer because you have the ability to look at your work and not only see perfection.
over 14 years ago
Photo 22998
pongza - Clearing your throat added that extra bit of sincerity. :) carmellarose - I went to UCLA and studied Theater. Lilu - That is a tough question and there are actually discussions about that on those websites I linked. The fact of the matter is that there isn't a lot you can do. The one thing you can do is file a form PA (in the US) which is a copywrite establishment of ownership. Many people say register your movie with the WGA - but I have never known them to really help a situation. The problem is this. This doesn't happen a lot, but when it does, I think it's more that something someoone read stays in their mind and then one day in the heat of the moment in a story discussion, they'll toss it out as an idea totally having forgotten where it came from. I think often times you feel like something has been taken and it was simply collective conscious. Many people inspired by similar sources of information coming upon a similar story. It's very hard to prove and if you do sue a studio, you might not work again for any studio. And if you never show your work, you'll never get anything made. So, you just have to have faith that you'll write more brilliant things if anyone does take it. Also try to get it to legit people who would only steal by mistake. But mostly - just push things to get made before they can be stolen. Seriously. Don't sit on projects for years and years - eventually someone will write something similar to it. Don't do that! Last on this subject. If your script is really good - someone is just going to want to buy it anyway. It is so hard to find a really polished wonderful, original script. In my reading days I swear I read script after script which were so generic that they all seemed identical. Now, if one of these had ever been made, the other nine writers would feel they'd had their idea stolen. But it was just that their idea was so generic. Literally - many times two or three scripts just felt identical. And I will also say that if any one of these scripts was great and unique - that is the one that would get hand up to the executives.
over 14 years ago

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