Customer Reviews: The Complete Book of Scriptwriting
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on July 9, 1999
I will spare You the same comments as the other reviews, as we are all in agreement that this book is incredible. There is a business that any writer must deal with, and JMS tells You how to go about it. Without this knowledge, You will *never* get hired. Also, JMS challenges the reader to not simply go around telling others, "I'm a writer." Rather, he wants You to have discipline and write whenever You have a moment's time to do so. There are a lot of talkers, and then there are those who succeed by hard work, discipline, an understanding of how the business works, and perseverance. I would highly endorse this book over other books that are simply made to take Your money, not unlike many of those scam writers' workshops who tell You the winning "formula" to a great work. JMS has paid his dues, written hundreds of scripts, and has worked as an Executive Producer for many successful shows. So please don't waste Your money on a fly by night writer who has never succeeded herself, but listen to the honesty and sincerity of a man who wrote this book under the premise that he wished he had had this book when he started. Best of luck to You all.
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on November 22, 1996
J. Michael Straczynski's The Complete Book of Scriptwriting
is a real breath of fresh air when it comes to learning how
it *really* works out there in Tinseltown. Straczynski
covers it all: Movies, Television, Animation, Stage and
Radio scriptwriting...and, just as important, *marketing*
your script!

The book is written in an easy, conversational style that's
very readable. (I finished the book in a weekend!) It's
obvious from the outset that this is a book that's going to
tell you the way things really are, instead of some kind of
snow job. If you really have the "burn," says Straczynski,
your options are almost endless...and here's how to explore
them realistically. I found the book extremely informative.
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on February 1, 2005
The Complete Book of Scriptwriting by J. Michael Straczynski

Well, I think we all know of Michael Straczynski's accomplishments if not I will name one of his projects Babylon 5 and leave it at that. With that being said, The Complete Book of Scriptwriting is an excellent book for any scriptwriter. In The Complete Book of Scriptwriting Michael Straczynski touches on every genre of scriptwriting. From TV and movie writing all the way down to stage and radio. Now The Complete Book of Scriptwriting is not really a how to guide for writing. The Complete Book of Scriptwriting touches on these aspects such as a scripts length, margin settings, subtext and dialog. However, The Complete Book of Scriptwriting is more so a guide to the business of writing written by a writer who was also a TV producer. So Michael Straczynski provides you with a wealth of information from an artistic and business point of view, you cannot go wrong there. With great efforts he takes you through the step-by-step process of pitching a script. Need a way to land you an agent well, a few ideas are presented in this book. How about when to register with the WGA, it is all in there. Not only does Michael Straczynski take the time to go through each genre of scriptwriting he provides in rich detail the history of each medium of scriptwriting as well as the future of that medium. If you take your time with the history of the medium of scriptwriting that you are trying to write for you will have a better understanding of how that medium works and all the little quirks that you may overlook in your zeal to become the next great scriptwriter.

Again The Complete Book of Scriptwriting is not really a how to guide to writing it is a guide to understanding the business of scriptwriting. Which includes everything from how to write, how to find an agent, how to deliver a pitch, how to understand the way a network, studio lot and even a producer go about in the process of dealing with writers. Do not get me wrong The Complete Book of Scriptwriting does provide a great deal of information on how to write a script but that is not this books single sole purpose. All in all if you are serious about being a professional scriptwriter this BOOK IS A MUST HAVE. You will refer to it a lot especially when you are ready to start dealing with the business aspects of scriptwriting...
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on August 19, 2002
Scriptwriting is a great all purpose review of both the creative and business sides of writing for TV, movies, animation, radio drama, and the stage. Straczynski is the perfect authority to write on these subjects, having garnered success in all those fields.
The book is a how to manual, with plenty of examples to follow. It also traces out the business side of selling what you write. Straczynski writes in a personable style, but pulls no punches. He helps a potentional writer separate his dreams from reality without crushing one's ambition. This book has been used in colleges as a textbook and upon reading it, yu'll see why. It's a handy reference tool that I have thumbed back through scores of times over the last 3 years. I give it the highest praise. It should be the starting point for anyone serious about writing in the performing arts.
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on February 3, 1997
Salted with script excerpts and script layouts in equal measure, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF SCRIPTWRITING is written with humour and a prose style which makes it almost as easy to read as fiction. It even includes the award-winning Babylon 5 script, "The Coming of Shadows" as an appendix. But is it an effective textbook?

The book covers the areas of film, screen, radio, animation and stage play scriptwriting in detail. It will show you how to develop a script in each genre from original idea through synopsis, then outline, to first draft, demonstrating at each stage who you'll be dealing with on the production side, and what you should expect to receive in payment. The pitfalls and the cynical traps some companies use are well signposted.

A significant failing, though, is that it does not cover as much of the art and technical aspects of scriptwriting as one might like - jms, as he's universally known on the Internet, seems to have the approach that the best teacher is practice. He devotes much more space to the layout of scripts (crucial to acceptance), their development and their marketing, with many anecdotes to illuminate, entertain and illustrate.

This is all very well, but layout and marketing details are local to the US. If you are intending to live in L.A. and write for the local market, this book is essential reading. If you live or work abroad, you may find the scriptwriting tips in the Complete Book a little incomplete for the cover price, although many Babylon 5 fans have bought it simply for the full episode script at the back.

None the less, this is a very well-written book (as one would expect from jms). It is not remotely starchy - unlike many books for writers - and it covers areas of scriptwriting which most other tomes on the subject fail to address, or at least in such detail. If you need to learn from scratch how to write, or to write a script, you'll find plenty of books already out there. But if you need a guide through the almost inpenetrable jungle of L.A., jms is your man, and the Complete Book is your map.

Jon Green (
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on March 19, 1999
This book gives you *suggestions* for story and structure, without cramming some step-by-step stifling "guaranteed" method down your throat. JMS's advice is open-ended and encourages you to strike out on your own and write unique, one-of-a-kind scripts that are completely yours. No Syd Field type "paradigm", no top secret formula that the author claims can be found in ALL successful movies (or TV shows or cartoons or plays...)--No BS!
But what this book does best is function as a reference for a wide variety of script formats and styles, from television to radio to the stage to the screen (even cartoons are covered). The book gives you ideas on how to market your particular script, helps the reader to decide what kind of story he'd like to tell or what kind of script he'd like to write, even gives you some ideas of what to expect depending on your choices. (You even get solid guidelines on what producers and professional readers expect the script to look like, right down to page margins.)
No scriptwriter should be without this book. It is crammed full of refreshingly useful and relevant information, it's funny, it's no-nonsense, it's fun to read, and it makes you want to sit down and get writing.
Let the "wannabes" read something like "How to be a Megarich Screenwriter in 24 Hours" or "PROVEN Hollywood Secrets". But if you're serious and not dumb enough to expect the road to be easy, check this book out.
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on October 8, 1999
An excellent book, especially for those searching for a place to start. It doesn't cover comprehensively everything it tries to mention, but there's so much good stuff here that I feel a bit sheepish for even mentioning that.
This book was written by a successful script writer. Not enough books about writing scripts can claim that. It's great to have this one.
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on January 23, 2004
I bought the 1996 edition book for the sole purpose of how to write a sceenplay for film.
I was impressed by the way JMS managed to incorporate camera moves and visual information within the scene descriptions. This proved to be valuable to me since my films are very visual and helps me to allow the Reader/Producer to understand how I would present the scenes on screen. These lessons helped me to get funding for my film project as a result of this book. I was complimented on how I was able to get the reader to visualize my script.
I have Final Draft software as well so I have no concerns about formatting, but JMS does give instructions of how to format if you don't have such software.
I also appreciate this book because it doesn't tell you how to structure your creative writing into a formula. There are enough formula scripts in the business already so this is actually a bonus for myself. I was free to create as I wish while still paying heed to his advice of how to market your scripts.
The only fault I found was that he didn't have instructions on how to construct a shooting script which involves more detail than the conventional screenplay. This would be useful information for pre-production of a film.
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on June 18, 2016
this really is the one. forget about the other books about screenwriting; even the ones that are promoted by schools like UCLA. honestly i feel the ones that try to tell you what story you should write and how you should write it, pacing and storytelling- wise, are absolutely worthless. call me a purist, but i believe if you feel strongly enough about telling a story you don't need someone telling what you should be writing and in how many act (the very idea seems stupid to me).

JMS doesn't do that. tells you everything that will help, and gives you all the details that you need to figure out how a screenplay should be formatted (which is basically why i referred to a book about screenwriting). he covers films, theater, animation, teleplays, everything. and he presents the whole thing very interestingly. he gives you enough history about the industry and the business, and tells you everything you need to know about it to sell a script.

however, this won't make your job much easier. the market right now is saturate with so many subpar screenplays that it's become next to impossible to actually make it in the film industry. but there is hope. and read the preface before you go into the book. it ends with the most amazing line and it really helped.
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on October 7, 2015
This is a great book, but I bought this version specifically because Amazon said it was a "newer version". It is not. The 2002 paperback is word-for-word the same as the 1996 hardcover. This is unfortunate, because things changed a lot between 1996 and 2002 (and between 2002 and now). I'm only giving it 4 stars because I suspect the info on how to sell a script is obsolete.
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