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Write What You Don't Know: An Accessible Manual for Screenwriters [Kindle Edition]

Julian Hoxter
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Paperback $24.95  

Book Description

Write What You Don't Know is a friendly manual for aspiring screenwriters. It encourages you to move beyond your comfort zones in search of stories. We all write what we know - how could we not? Writing what you don't know and doing it in an informed and imaginative way is what makes the process worthwhile.

Hoxter draws on his wealth of experience teaching young film students to offer help with every aspect of the writing process, including how we come up with ideas in the first place. Light hearted and full of insight into the roundabout way film students approach their scripts, it also discusses the important issues like the difference between stories and plots and what your characters should be doing in the middle of act two. Write What You Don't Know contains examples and case studies from a wide range of movies, both mainstream and alternative such as The Virgin Spring, Die Hard, The Ipcress File, For The Birds, (500) Days of Summer, Juno, Up In The Air, Knocked Up and Brick.

Editorial Reviews


Julian Hoxter's Write What You Don't Know is an authentic standout among the growing number of titles treating screenwriting education. The book is fresh, often funny, always insightful, and enormously affirming not only for screenwriters but for all people who love worthy film and literature. The book is written in a language that is accessible and engaging and clear as light. At the same time as it engages the reader at every turn, it continually posits profound insights into the nature of creative expression in all its forms.

—Professor Richard Walter, UCLA Screenwriting Chair

A priceless antidote to illusory ideas about a greed and glory industry: honesty and self-exploration by the writer. Hoxter urges us to avoid cliches, formulas and conventions by exploring those things that enlarge our own understanding of the world. Coupled with witty "how to" advice, the book's approach is personal, distinct and entirely to the point.

—Bill Nichols, Professor of Cinema at San Francisco State University, and author of Engaging Cinema, Introduction to Documentary (2nd edition) and Representing Reality

Laughing as you learn is an uncommon delight. Julian Hoxter is a witty writer and supremely wise teacher of screenwriting. Reading this bountiful, often rollicking guide to the craft will leave any reader, of any age, geared up and ready to write smart and lively movies. If you aspire to become a screenwriter, this provocative and original book will open the creative door for you.

— Joseph McBride, cowriter of Rock 'n' Roll High School and author of Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless

A neat - and blessedly simple - new approach to screenplay structure. Storytelling has always been about the W: what, who, where, why when. Here's another W that ensures they all hang together neatly to make a saleable screenplay.

—Nicola Lees, Author, Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept to Pitch

About the Author

Julian Hoxter is the Screenwriting Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Screenwriting in the Cinema Department of San Francisco State University. He is an award winning educator and filmmaker whose films have been shown in festivals around the world. He has taught screenwriting and filmmaking in the US and the UK for over 15 years.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1369 KB
  • Print Length: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (August 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005V0YD0W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,116,763 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Bryan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
How many screenwriting books are there? I've lost count! I've read my share, too. The key is to find an author you connect with, that speaks to you. Write What You Don't Know is that book.

A self-taught filmmaker, I returned to school to finish my degree 2 years ago. Having written several scripts and many more attempted scripts, I felt writing was my biggest challenge and the key to success in film. I was lucky enough to have Julian Hoxter as my screenwriting instructor. He has story consulted on two of my films. His focus on story and structure all through a character's needs really opened my eyes. For the first time I felt confident in my writing. I still go through the usual struggles every writer meets, however I now have the tools to help me identify what I need to do or where I need to go when writing a script.

Write What You Don't Know is Julian Hoxter's amazing classes in a book. Witty, informative, and engaging. I love this book because he doesn't talk at you. He talks to you. You feel like you're in a conversation with the author. His British witticisms create a fun atmosphere where you enjoy reading and look forward to each page. This isn't your typical screenwriting book, laws of writing aren't forced down your throat. If you struggle with writing, your starting to learn about filmmaking, or you've u've been writing and want a fresh perspective, this book is for you! I can't think of a better way to learn the keys to screenwriting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best screenwriting book I've read August 15, 2011
This book is accessible but not dumbed down with helpful illustrations on how to not only structure a screenplay but also how to create interesting characters and dialogue. Last year I read Save the Cat for my screenwriting class and was utterly annoyed by the writing. Seriously. But I read it, since there were some good tips in there.

Write What You Don't Know does what Save the Cat was trying to do: make a screenwriting book that is fun to read but has instrumental instructions on writing a script. And even though the book is aimed at a younger reader, I could completely relate with Hoxter's "implied you."

Not only does this book uses screenwriting structure to teach dialogue in such a way that I actually wanted to read it, the overall structure of the book walked me through developing screenplay ideas like no other book has. Hoxter provides a really concrete and not scary description of how to write a screenplay (and maybe even a good screenplay) in a way that practically makes sense.

Finally, I have to say I really appreciated the other references he provides for different structures of screen writing (I just bought the book on TV writing he recommends).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars invaluable insight August 11, 2011
By travmar
As a filmmaker it's easy to get lost in the muck of all the moving parts around you. Why am I even telling this story in the first place? What does this character want again? Julian was an invaluable story consultant on my more recent film, pushing me to ask these kinds of essential questions. Always 3 steps ahead with elegant solutions to what sometimes felt like insurmountable obstacles, he approached the material with a discerning eye and refreshing wit. I'm excited for his new book and looking forward to learning even more in the process.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
For the aspiring screenwriter and seasoned - but blocked - writer alike, there are words of wisdom in Julian Hoxter's book, Write What You Don't Know that will help you. Regardless of how new to screenwriting you are, or what particular phase of your draft you're in, Hoxter's chapter-by-chapter manual makes the craft accessible with information when and where you need it. Case in point, I've written over six scripts and hold a screenwriting M.F.A. from UCLA, but it feels like moving a mountain to rev up the energy I need just to start the months-long process of writing a new spec script. When I started a new project recently and was lacking in motivation, I flipped to Chapter 2: "Screenwriting: The Hardest Easy Thing You Will Ever Do." The chapter got my butt in gear (aka in the chair to burn up some pages!) and helped me re-focus in that crucial brainstorm phase as to what the story was that I really needed (versus wanted) to tell."

- Kathy Cabrera, MFA in Screenwriting, UCLA School of Theater , Film & Television; Screenwriting Instructor, Atlanta Film Festival 365
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More About the Author

Julian Hoxter is an award winning educator and filmmaker. He is an in-demand story consultant for independent features and a feature film re-write specialist. He has taught screenwriting and film production in universities in the US and the UK for over fifteen years. Currently Julian Hoxter Associate Professor of Cinema and the Screenwriting Coordinator for the famous Cinema Department of San Francisco State University.

You can follow Julian on Twitter @JulianHoxter



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