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My Story Can Beat Up Your Story: Ten Ways to Toughen Up Your Screenplay from Opening Hook to Knockout Punch Paperback – April 1, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

My Story Can Beat Up Your Story! is the same powerful, easy-to-learn system that industry insiders have used to generate millions of dollars in script sales and ?assignments. In a clear, step-by-step fashion, this book is a fun, eye-opening, ?brain-expanding, and often irreverent guide to writing stories that sell. Covering everything from Heroes to Villains, from Theme to Plot Points, from cooking up good ideas to a business plan for smart writers, this book forever eliminates that horrible feeling every writer goes through — staring at the blank page and wondering “what comes next?”

About the Author

Jeffrey Alan Schechter was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, which explains his endearing personality. After moving to Los Angeles and not wanting to starve, he quickly established himself as a versatile writer, able to work in all genres from action films to family comedies, from pre-school to adult drama, from live action to animation. His writing has earned him nominations for two Emmy awards, a Writers Guild of America award, a Writer’s Guild of Canada award, and a BAFTA award. Over the years Jeff has worked with dozens of studios and networks including Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, ABC, NBC, The Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, The Hallmark Channel, the BBC, VH1 Films, RHI, and The Walt Disney Company.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932907939
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932907933
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeffrey Alan Schechter was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, which explains his endearing personality.

After moving to Los Angeles and not wanting to starve, he quickly established himself as a versatile writer, able to work in all genres from action films to family comedies, from pre-school to adult drama, from live action to animation. His writing has earned him a Gemini Award as well as nominations for two Emmy awards, a Writers Guild of America award, a Writer's Guild of Canada award, and a BAFTA award.

Over the years Jeff has worked with dozens of studios and networks including Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, ABC, NBC, The Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, The Hallmark Channel, the BBC, VH1 Films, RHI, and The Walt Disney Company.
Jeff is the author of a book on story structure titled My Story Can Beat Up Your Story! and is a noted speaker and lecturer on screenwriting. Jeff is married and has four children.

Customer Reviews

I very highly recommend this book to writers at every level.
Jen Grisanti
Schechter writes "My Story Can Beat Up Your Story" as if he is sitting with the reader and having a conversation, which really makes the points more understandable.
Taylor S. Hawthorne
Hands down, this is the best writing help book since Blake Snyder's Save the Cat!
Baron Von Cool

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Terry on March 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've been writing screenplays for over twenty years and I've heard the term "punch it up" and I never really understood what that meant. Punch it what? Punch it where? Punch it how?

Though Mr. Schechter's book really doesn't use the term "punch it up" - it was in the back of my mind as I read. Simply put, punching up your screenplay - or toughening it up is the task of looking at the elements of your screenplay and making sure they're the best they can possibly be. Is your hero heroic? Why? Is your villain really a villain? How? What does the villain have in common with the hero and vice versa? Is your format correct? Are the elements in place? What of the plot points? Are you missing some? And sub-characters...what about them?

Mr. Schechter's book helps you strip your screenplay and story down to the core elements and then forces you to focus on them (as much as you may not want to) until you've worked through them and made your script better than it was and possibly better than many scripts out there.

How does he do this? By taking the basics of your story and parsing it out. Hero, villain, acts 1, 2a, 2b, 3, formatting, structure, characters, etc. By using graphs, photos and wonderful examples (recent films such as, but not limited to: "Avatar," "The Sixth Sense," "The Dark Knight" and, especially, "Star Wars - Episode IV - A New Hope"), to get his points across. And if the book isn't enough - he gives you links to free downloads to help you even further.

The only area where I feel the book stumbles a bit - is when Mr. Schechter creates the absolute of 44 plot points throughout your script.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By MR DANIEL JA PILDITCH on March 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
MY STORY CAN BEAT UP YOUR STORY is a refreshing read from cover to cover, and having waded through many a screenwriting book, this one comes highly recommended.

It's a rare example of a screenwriting book that's educational AND a fun read. It's real, applicable, and honest. I should also mention that this was written by somebody who's actually had (and continues to have) a career as a working writer. No 'if you can't do, teach' risk here. Jeff can do, and he also happens to teach.

This book has something for writers at any level, from those who know zilch, to those who think about nothing but.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Heather Hale on May 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
In My Story Can Beat Up Your Story, Jeffrey Alan Schechter promises "Ten Ways to Toughen Up Your Screenplay From Opening Hook to Knockout Punch."

Like the old Arthur Murray dance classes where students would learn by stepping on the cut out footprints on the floor, Schechter simplistically breaks down basic screenplay elements into bite-sized pieces, ending each chapter with an exercise to put what you've just learned into practice. He's smart to drive Readers to the book's website (MSCBUYS.com) by offering them the chapter exercises as free downloadable worksheets.

As the pieces begin to form the big picture, you, as the Reader-Writer, are taken on a journey unveiling the thought process behind the story structure software, Contour, that Schechter helped develop.

You're encouraged to consider Schechter's four key questions and then apply four classic literary archetypes to your own contemplated project. And as you build (or renovate) your three-act structure, he encourages you to populate it with your own unique interpretation and execution of the six supporting characters that will help illustrate the different viewpoints of the thematic argument in play - especially through character-specific dialogue.

With such a rich cannon of screenplay literature, it's difficult not to step on familiar terminology or territory and come across as derivative, so Schechter saves time by just crediting and starting with Michael Hauge's great definition of what a story must do: "enable a sympathetic character who overcomes a series of increasingly difficult, seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve a compelling desire," Schechter traces these elements through the most successful, non-sequel movies of all time as examples.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Baron Von Cool on June 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Hands down, this is the best writing help book since Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! It's written in the same fun, laid-back style that makes you feel like the author is hanging out in your living room talking to you over a few beers. It's really easy to learn from and a pleasure to read. It's also useful for novelists AND screenwriters.

One of this book's big revelations for me is the Unity of Opposites, a chart where the protagonist has his own "family tree" of sidekicks, mentors, and helpers, but so does the villain. They have all the same roles fulfilled in their trees regardless of which side of the conflict they are on. And a new type of role is introduced for both, the Deflector (or contagonist), who tries to pull the hero or villain off his path and onto his or her own. The Deflector is the flip side of the same coin as the hero, whereas the Villain is the polar opposite.

For example, in Star Wars (1977), Darth Vader is not the villain but the Deflector. Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) is the villain. Vader works for him (on loan from the Emperor). The Death Star is Tarkin's pet project and it's his butt on the line with the Emperor if it fails. Vader would just get a slap on his cybernetic wrist and reassigned. But Tarkin would get zapped with lightning or force-choked to death (probably one of the Grand Moff's overriding reasons not to abandon ship).

Lord Vader tries to warn Tarkin not to be too proud of this technological terror he's constructed, and that its power is insignificant compared to the Force. Tarkin fails to heed Vader's advice and it is the Force (via Luke) who defeats Tarkin and the Death Star.
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