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Write Screenplays That Sell: The Ackerman Way Paperback – October, 2003
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More About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
"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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Horrible text book for screen writing, hopefully your professor didnt ask you to get this one.Published 1 month ago by Joey Thimian
Excellent book for novelists as well as aspiring screenwriters, as it gets to the heart of what all of this is about: Storytelling.Published 10 months ago by Anonymous
I've had the pleasure of taking a screenwriting course with Professor Ackerman at UCLA, and his book, like Ackerman himself, is full of insight, humor and encouragement. Read morePublished 19 months ago by J. Ward
This is the best screenwriting book ! It reads like a graduate level UCLA course. Duh, Hal Ackerman is the Head of the UCLA Screenwriting Department. Read morePublished on November 9, 2013 by G. Tang
This book was assigned reading for a screenplay class at UCLA.
Really great nuts and bolts guide for beginners and a great refresher book for more advanced people.
I really hate buying a book without looking inside!!! Here is a link to a sample PDF of the book: <... Read morePublished on August 12, 2011 by Nicholas L. Reed
Bottom Line: Buy and use this book if you are really serious about writing (and rewriting) a good screenplay. Read morePublished on February 15, 2011 by Suzanne