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Essentials of Screenwriting: The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing Paperback – June 29, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Revised edition (June 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452296277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452296275
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Walter has been the Screenwriting Chairman of the UCLA Film, Television, and Digital Media writing program for almost thirty years. A screenwriter and novelist himself, he lives in Los Angeles, California. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Richard Walter is a celebrated storytelling guru, movie industry expert, and longtime chairman of UCLA's legendary graduate program in screenwriting. A screenwriter and published novelist, his latest book, Essentials of Screenwriting, is available in stores now. His previous published works include the novels Escape from Film School and Barry and the Persuasions and screenwriting books The Whole Picture: Strategies for Screenwriting Success in the New Hollywood and Screenwriting: The Art, Craft and Business of Film and Television Writing.

He has written numerous feature assignments for the major studios and has sold material to all three networks. He has also written many informational, educational and corporate films. Richard lectures on screenwriting and storytelling throughout North America and the world. He has conducted master classes in London, Paris, Jerusalem, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Beijing and Hong Kong.

Students from Richard's screenwriting program at UCLA have written more than ten projects for Steven Spielberg alone, plus dozens of other Hollywood blockbusters and prestigious indie productions, including two recent Oscar winners for best screenplay: Milk and Sideways.

Richard is a widely viewed pop culture critic and media pundit who has appeared multiple times on The Today Show, The O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, ABC Primetime, Scarborough Country, CBS News Nightwatch, NPR, KABC-Talk Radio and numerous independent television and radio stations. More than a hundred newspaper and magazine articles have described his work and the program he directs at UCLA.

In addition to his stature in the media and academic world as a writer of substantial professional experience, Richard is also a leading expert witness in intellectual property litigation.

For more information and to order the new Essentials of Screenwriting, visit

Customer Reviews

This book will help you write them.
J. Leisawitz
Useful material I have read about a dozen books on screenwriting and attended a few classes on the subject.
Anthony R. Kassel
I wrote a screenplay prior to reading this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By J. Leisawitz on August 12, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some teachers teach because they love school and never want to leave. Others teach because they get summers off. But the best teachers in the world do it because they have an insatiable desire to master a subject and share it with anyone who'll listen. If you're ever fortunate enough to find yourself in the same room (or book) as one of these types, it can be a life changing experience.

Professor Richard Walter, UCLA's Screenwriting Chairman, is one of these guys. He's been pondering the dynamics of story and structure every day for the past several decades and doesn't break a sweat referencing everything from Aristotle to Avatar in the same breath.

Essentials of Screenwriting covers all the big stuff in detail-- theme, conflict, character, dialogue, etc. But this book goes deeper, exploring the interplay of psychology, art and commerce before defining a 'foolproof, shockproof, waterproof, tamper resistant' method for reaching an agent.

Throughout these pages Richard also lays out a series of Screenwriting Principles. They are short and sweet, barbed and brilliant. These sixty odd philosophies (along with the story of the clueless Kindergarten teacher) are alone worth many times the cover price of this book.

Essentials cuts to the chase with more style, wisdom and funny than all of the other screenwriting books I've ever read... combined. It's a fun and informative read packed with practical knowledge about the biz along with profound insights on every conceivable subject, mistake, obstacle and/ or challenge a screenwriter is likely to face.

Professor Walter knows that movies are much more than just a way to kill a few hours on a Saturday night. Great movies express the love, pain, suffering, joy, triumph and tragedy of the human experience. That's why we love them.

This book will help you write them.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Pen Densham on December 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
As an active Hollywood Filmmaker I've had the privilege of working with students who studied with Richard. They adore him and write with a great strength. I also teach and adjunct class at USC and I ask my students to review a great many books on film. Richard's new revision of Essentials stands out as a wonderful deep and resonant overview of the craft and business. It speaks to both newer writers and as a great refresher course for working pros. Richard wants to inspire you to think, and enjoy the process, and he succeeds admirably at both!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By drinkclean on December 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
I felt like I was sitting face-to-face with the man. Which is brilliant because he communicates from the page like no teacher I've ever known face-to-face.

Mr. Walter offers a rare combination of correction and empowerment that makes one feel, in every sense of the word, better. Upon finishing my time with this book, I feel more confident about the work I've done, and I know I'm capable of taking the next steps toward becoming a professional writer-for-hire.

Other "insider" books have left me feeling locked out of the clubhouse without first being considered. Here, though, I learned from an "insider" who prioritized my growth over displaying his extensive experience, described exactly where I'm treading water, and set a clear course toward the next set of rapids without making me feel inferior.

As a visual learner, I particularly appreciated the example revision notes. I put the book down and immediately started cutting through one of my scripts! It was like having a new tool, better suited to my work than anything I've used before.

Buy the book. If you're looking to stay motivated and keep learning, it might just be the fresh wind your sails have been straining to catch.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By HIPPO COOKIE on January 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
A teacher can only be a guide on a journey that ultimately one must take on their own. Richard Walter is the guide I'm taking.

He is wise yet hilarious, unequivocal and unshakably optimistic. Neither bitter nor jaded. If at times he's authoritative, it is to chop the crap constipating other how-to tomes and pamphlets. In sixty-six principles dusted through the text, hard-won truths lay bare what most aspiring screenwriters and screenwriting pundits would know given enough experience and the requisite perception. There is no filler in this book.

Mr. Walter's voice is like rice: there is more there than it seems. The humor is shorthand communion; his ability to flash from ego and abundant self-esteem to jocular self-disparagement and humility is striking and compelling and always insightful. Anything less from the Chair at The Holy Grail of Screenwriting and I'd donate this book at my own unrealized loss, somewhere around the twenty-five percent mark.

Principle 6: "Screenwriting's one unbreakable rule: Don't be boring." A good principle all around: vacation food, nicknames, hairstyles, first-date monologues... and screenwriting books. This book is effective both in content and delivery: "Lie through your teeth. What matters is not the data but the emotion." If you seek tissue-soft pronouncements the bathroom is on the way out. Just kidding. Seriously, you should look elsewhere - another profession some would suggest.

Some of my favorites: identity as the only theme; the `hydrant effect' or why every producer and rewriter has to dribble a few drops on a script; Principle 39: "Breathers are for after the movie.
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