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Write Screenplays That Sell: The Ackerman Way Paperback – October 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Tallfellow Press; Rev Upd edition (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931290520
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931290524
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hal Ackerman has been on the faculty of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television since 1985 and is currently co-area head of the screenwriting program. His book, Write Screenplays That Sell...The Ackerman Way, is in its third printing, and is the text of choice in a growing number of screenwriting programs around the country.

He has sold original material to all the major studio and networks. He has had numerous short stories published in literary journals including North Dakota Review, New Millennium Writings, The Pinch, The Yalobusha Review. "Roof Garden" won the Warren Adler 2008 award for fiction. "The Dancer Horse" was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2011. "Belle and Melinda" has just been selected by Southeast review as the winner of their WORLD'S BEST SHORT SHORT STORY CONTEST.

His play, under its original title TESTOSTERONE: How Prostate Cancer Made A Man of Me, was the recipient of the William Saroyan Centennial Prize for drama. Under its new title, PRICK, it was named BEST SCRIPT at the 2011 United Solo Festival in New York.

His first novel, STEIN, STONED was won the Lovey Award for best first novel; followed by STEIN, STUNG in May of 2012.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 27 customer reviews
Ackerman is very clear in going step by step to make you a better writer.
Elias Rima
Indeed, I'd also recommend Richard Walter's book on screenwriting (I've also had class with Professor Walter and recommend him and his book highly as well).
J. Ward
This book is rich with ideas and techniques that will help you strengthen your story writing skills.
Jeffrey L. Armbruster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've read quite a few screenwriting books, and what I first noticed about this one was its comfortable, clever tone.

Some of the really big heavy hitters in screenwriting are too expensive and pretentious. They try and function like textbooks. (I have one book in mind that weighs about 3 pounds and costs about $60... and like many text books, it lost my interest when I fell asleep on page 10.)

Hal Ackerman's book isn't very long, and it's an easy, pleasant read -- sort of populist without being condescending. It doesn't take screenwriting too seriously, which I appreciate. At the same time, you get the sense that this UCLA Professor loves helping his students craft meaningful stories that will also sell. (Some of his past students have gone on to write scripts like Matchstick Men and A Walk on the Moon.)

This book's real strength lies in its dedication to helping writers build effective narratives. Ackerman has designed an index card technique called the Scene-o-Gram that helps writers diagram stories so that key emotional turning points and plot points are hit at regular intervals. This forces you to keep only what you need and to lose the rest. Since most writers suffer from wordiness and a total lack of editing abilities, a stringent guide like this is a godsend.

I am an aspiring screenwriter who recently hit a block and stopped writing for several weeks. My romantic comedy is a mixed up mess and my zombie movie hit page 60 before I realized I had no ending. I think this is because I'm relatively new and haven't yet internalized the rhythms of effective storytelling.

After reading this book, I feel like I have the concrete tools I need to help me finish my scripts. I'd describe the book as a method to reign in your madness.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By bluepeace on October 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
I got this book just a couple of weeks ago, and I will admit openly that i am not done reading it, but I have read a lot of it, and he definitely knows what he's talking about. Hal Ackerman's book includes information on proper script format that a lot of other books leave out.

I'll also say that he doesn't sugar coat things for you, he tells you some real hard learned and down to earth facts about the film writing industry and states in no uncertain terms what your chances really are at making it big, getting recognition and what rights you have to your work once its made. I would rather learn about that from him then to learn it the hard way after I submitted my script. He also tells you about the usefulness of script writing software, among other things.

To me it's not really an air of arrogance about his tone, as stated in some other reviews, but an air of realism where he informs you that writing a movie is serious business.One thing that may throw a lot of people off in this book is that he tells you that you must "practice at screen writing" in order to actually be good at it and the book contains exercises at the end of each chapter (writers gym) for you to build your skills.

I wouldn't say that it's a distraction from doing real writing as one reveiwer stated, but something that you must do in order to sharpen your skills. Many other writing books say and include the same thing, and I see nothing amiss here.

All writing takes dedication and work, and thanks to Hal Ackerman we have a very useful guide that not only tells us the truth about screen writing, but helps us to get into it. The four star rating for this book is not deserved, five stars. Also if you're still not sure if you want to buy this book check it out of your local library first and read a bit of it for yourself (I did and I am now fervently seeking to own a copy of it permanently). Then you can see if it's for you.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
This really is a great book. It is filled with practical, useful, helpful information that makes it much easier to sit down and be productive. The author's sense of humor also makes it a fun read.
It all makes sense after you read it and then start to do it yourself. I can see why so many people have been successful using this guy's method.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Hal Ackerman is one of the most outstanding writing instructors in one of the world's best film schools (UCLA). He is a devotee of classical dramatic structure and can help you wrestle your crazed wanderings into clarity and a graceful shape. He is a master at it and it has earned him a devoted following at UCLA. His methods are clear and easy to use and your work will be a billion times better for it. Many best-selling writers around town have Ackerman to thank for helping them become the successes they are.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By santa monica reader on October 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
Author Hal Ackerman's a longtime UCLA film professor whose particular distinction is that an inordinately high proportion of his former students have actually sold their scripts to Hollywood. While there are some excellent books on screenwriting out there (and what writer wouldn't actually prefer to read yet another book about writing rather than actually have to write a book or script himself!) Ackerman's all about getting your script finished and sold. Make room on your shelf for this one.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Sam Scrivener on December 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Just read this book and found it be an excellent approach to screenwriting: clear and concise, logical and intuitive, and very inspiring. What Ackerman has done with this book is truly noteworthy. He has provided a working methodology that is based on actual writing, not theory. This is a craftsman's approach to screenwriting that allows room for art, inspiration, and true creativity to shine through. It is, perhaps, the best book on screenwriting there is, and probably the only one you'll ever need. Bravo. I was so impressed by this book that I decided to write a review on it, and even read the other reviews first. While I agree with most of them, I take exception with one of them--a review written by someone who clearly never even read the book. So, in fairness, I'm going to review that review.

"My brainwashed friend at UCLA told me that I had to get this book, so I did. This guy is crazier than that creepy Lew Hunter "guru.""

The reviewer starts by insulting UCLA, as brainwashing, and then claims to have read Ackerman's book anyway. Sure. The reviewer then goes on to insult another UCLA Professor, Lew Hunter. Why the axe to grind against UCLA? From what I understand, UCLA has produced some of the best writers working in the film industry: Alexander Payne, Ed Solomon, David Koepp, Paul Schrader, Shane Black, Allison Anders, Francis Ford Coppola, Eric Roth, Pamela Gray, Sacha Gervasi, Josefina Lopez, etc.

"The book proves to be just one more distraction from actually writing."

It's not a distraction from writing, but a clear guide into writing, as one who actually read it can attest. Seems to me the real distraction to writing is grousing about: ones's friend, Ackerman and his book, Lew Hunter, and UCLA.
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