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Secrets of Film Writing Paperback – June 2, 2001
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About the Author
Tom Lazarus has had five feature films made from his original screenplays, including the number-one movie Stigmata, and has written six movies of the week and over thirty hours of network drama. He is also an award-winning educational filmmaker. He has taught screenwriting for ten years as a UCLA Extension Instructor and continues to write screenplays while writing and directing independent features.
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Top Customer Reviews
Of all the screenwriting books I own (that would be all the big ones and some of the not-so-big-ones) this most clearly brings out what it is really like to be a living, breathing screenwriter. Lazurus is one. He's not the pedantic Syd Field (who to my knowledge has never sold a script) or the methodical Michael Hauge, but what he offers in pragmatism makes up for any shortcomings in presentation.
Like William Goldman's more autobiographical "Which Lie Did I Tell" Lazarus puts his heart, mind, and strengths right on the table. He writes like a good friend telling you almost everything you want and need to know. He has the guts to tell you what will and will not work. I applaud him for that. As a writer of a How To book, he took the time and risked the emotional upheaval of writing from the heart to give us the goods. He also revised this book enough times to make it easy and fun to read and understand. This book is what you need to know to write a good script. Period.
Thank you for a great book, Mr. Lazarus!
Tom Lazarus's book is a breezy page turner that gives its many insights with economy and clarity -- exactly the style that we all should use in writing scripts. Like a good movie, it has a narrative drive that helps by making the hints entertaining. And it doesn't try to give you hundreds of insights, just three dozen or or so. But the "yield" of key jewels to routine advice is higher than almost any other screenwriting book.
For example on page 53, Lazarus says "try to write an 80 to 85 page first draft" (finished scripts usually end up at 110 to 125 pages long). This does so many things: forces a focus on the spine of the story, eliminates tons of distractions and marginal sub-plots, and leads to real discipline. Then you read that short first draft and figure out where to add depth to the characters, how to twist the plot again, and where to place nuance in scenes without stretching the total length beyond boredom. My experience as an aspiring screenwriter is that we amateurs always try to add too much too soon. We should value economy and clarity above all else. Like Tom Lazarus shows us in this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was rife with typos, It was more of a personal rant than instructional book. Very interesting bullet points that cut to the meat of screenplay writing were helpful. Read morePublished on July 25, 2013 by T. Engram
I've read this book twice, six years apart, and it wasn't until I had completed 4 screenplays that I appreciated the beauty of this book. Read morePublished on January 13, 2012 by J.W.
One thing that screenplays, novels, stage-plays, and just about every other form of literature have in common are authors who are so self-absorbed that they're incapable of telling... Read morePublished on April 29, 2010 by David A. Beier
This could have been a good, very basic book about how to write a screenplay. As a previous reviewer pointed out, Lazarus makes good points about outlining and creating a log line... Read morePublished on April 13, 2009 by laurenbacall44
The first thing you notice from reading the excerpts of scripts provided in the book is that Mr. Lazarus is extremely self-indulgent. Read morePublished on December 8, 2008 by Mike P
I really appreciated this book, because it reads like a seasoned veteran standing over your shoulder. He gives good advice born of experience. Read morePublished on December 23, 2005 by AnthonyWrites
This book is a clever, insightful, informative little treasure chest of information and advice on excellent screenwriting. Read morePublished on March 21, 2005 by MG
Tom Lazarus' style is simple and strait forward, almost conversational, making this book easy to read cover to cover in minimal time and with a minimum of effort (not that I'm... Read morePublished on May 6, 2002