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Art of Dramatic Writing Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives Paperback – 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Revised edition (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671213326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671213329
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

In particular, the most useful takeout from this book is that your premise has to match your character and story.
"gallanau"
If I could say only one thing to you, reader of this review, it would be read this book as soon as you can get your grubby hands on it.
Mark Wieczorek
The information in the book is worth reading, however, in the Kindle edition, there are many, many formatting errors.
VLS

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By E. VONROTHKIRCH on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What Lajos Egri will show you:

* Formulate your premise. Premise is a statement, idea, or conviction that your story proves true. For example, the premise of Romeo and Juliet would be something like "Love defies even death."

* Choose a pivotal character who will force the conflict.

* Orchestrate the other characters. The unity of opposites must be binding. Polar opposites must form a dialectic which creates a unified tension.

* Be careful to select the correct point of attack. Every point of attack starts with conflict.

* There are several types of conflict, such as jumping conflict, but you only want rising or foreshadowing conflict.

* No conflict can rise without perpetual exposition, which is transition. For example, a character going about his daily life doesn't suddenly become a NAZI, it happens in gradual steps--transition.

* Rising conflict, the product of exposition and transition, will ensure growth.

* Characters must conflict--there must be some polarity.

* Crisis will lead to climax. Climax will lead to conclusion.

* Dialogue should come from the voice of the character, not the writer.

Many TV, film, and novel plots and characters lack compelling conflict. The characters are just floating by... until something big happens. Lajos Egri illustrates how to change all this.
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112 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wieczorek on November 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Egri's work is the only contender that I know of to Aristotle's "Poetics" for a guide to what makes good writing Good. Throw in Joseph Campbell's "The Hero with A Thousand Faces" and you have a sort of holy trilogy and trinity for writers. I've looked at some writing computer programs (haven't bought any yet), and many of them use one, or all of these methods. As an aside, I'll also throw in Polti as a source for plot. Not because I think he's very good, but because he's popular.
In Egri's world, character is king. Each of the characters, he states, must have a driving reason to be on stage, and their reasons must be diametrically opposed. In other words, they can't all get what they want - for one person to get what she wants, someone else must be deprived of their goal. Each character must also be desperate (desperate enough to be interesting) to get what he wants. (It's been a few years since I've read Egri, so please forgive my bad paraphrasing.)
Using many examples (some familiar, some unfamiliar) he gives you the tools to analyze plays (and all stories), and (therefore, hopefully) write plays, or stories, or novels, or movies... My girlfriend and I, even years after reading this book can't walk out of a movie theater or playhouse without analyzing it using the methods we learned from Egri.
If I were only able to reccomend one book to writers, this would be it. (Followed, of course, by Aristotle & Campbell). If I were to have all books erased from my memory and could only re-read one, this would be a strong contendor. If I could say only one thing to you, reader of this review, it would be read this book as soon as you can get your grubby hands on it.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By "gallanau" on February 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Well, I read this book recently after reading god knows how many screenwriting books. Some of them are quite repetitive aren't they?! The thing that I've found is that there are a lot of books out there that explain the three-act structure by saying you have a set-up, then you have your turning points, your climax, your resolution blah blah blah. Thing is we all instinctively know we need this stuff in our plays and screenplays but what's hard as a writer is actually figuring out what these should be. What makes a good turning point, what makes a good resolution etc? If you want to find out, I strongly suggest you read this book.
I found this book (along with Robert McKee's 'Story') the most useful out of the many (screenwriting) books I've read because he gets into the nitty gritty hard stuff. He makes you think about how important the premise is. I disagree with some of the reviews of this book on this site that say that Egri says you have to know your premise from the outset, he doesn't say that, what he does say is that you have to know it clearly at some stage in writing your script and this is true because we go to films to find something out and all the pieces have to fit together or you'll say something like 'The second half of the movie dragged', 'Why did she do that? That wasn't in character' or 'The movie tried to prove too many points all at once' and so on.
The more I write scripts, the more I realise that it's all about planning and architecture because pacing is everything unlike novels etc.
In particular, the most useful takeout from this book is that your premise has to match your character and story. He goes into detail using 'A Doll's House' as an example.
Read more ›
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Whiplash Willy on May 26, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This concerns the BN Publishing paperback edition from 2008, ISBN 978-9562915861:

The people at BN Publishing, may they roast forever in literary purgatory who ever they are, have a web site with the claim 'Improving People's Life'. They improved this playwrights classic by spacing lines and paragraphs the way we do it on the web: no indents, just a blank line between the paragraphs. Then they added some odd looking formatting of headings & sub-headings. Plus typos, typos and... typos. Here and there the lines also break in funny places across the page. It's all rather sad, sloppy and annoying, though no major crime, perhaps. What in my opinion is way beyond annoying... they have quietly REMOVED WHOLE SECTIONS of the original text -- in other words, chopped the thing up and decided what we don't need to read. Or, probably, how to make money... Shame on them. Just stay away, please.
Also available these days is the 1972 Touchstone Revised edition -- The Art Of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives. That's got the text Egri wrote.
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