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Writing Screenplays That Sell Paperback – August 16, 1991

4.5 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

If you've got a half-finished screenplay in the drawer, these two unflaggingly optimistic additions to the how-to literature will make you want to dig it out and get to work. Aimed at beginners, both are by academics who not only teach the subject, but are professional screenwriters themselves. In agreement on most of the basic points, each gives a solid discussion of the craftcharacters, story development, etc.and industry; lays out the all-important details of format; then tells how to market the finished product. Hauge's volume is a detailed manual offering a step-by-step methodology, a scriptual analysis of a hit film, The Karate Kid , and handy chapter summaries. Walter's is more general and breezily written. Both authors argue that screenwriting is a developable craft rather than an art and stress the overpowering need for strong-willed commitment to achieve success. They also agree that, despite all the high-paid, well-established hacks, especially in TV, if you don't have talent, perseverance, imagination, and some luck, you're in the wrong field. For those libraries that can buy only one more title in this crowded field, Hauge is the preferred choice. Two other recent books are Jurgen Wolff and Kerry Cox's Successful Scriptwriting, Writer's Digest, 1988; and Ben Brady and Lance Lee's The Understructure of Writing for Film & Television, Univ. of Texas Pr., 1988. The latter seems aimed at replacing Brady's Keys to Writing for Television and Films as the standard college text. Ed.David Bartholomew, NYPL
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“No one is better than Michael Hauge at finding what is most authentic in every moment of a story.” (Will Smith (Men in Black; Ali; The Pursuit of Happyness; Hitch; I Am Legend; Hancock))

“Michael Hauge is a story master, and this book is an absolute must have for anyone serious about telling great stories for the screen.” (DeVon Franklin, Vice-President of Production, Columbia Pictures)

“There are five essential books that every person who wants to write screenplays should read. One of them is Writing Screenplays That Sell, and the other four don’t matter.” (Terry Rossio, Co-writer: Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2, 3 & 4; Shrek; Aladdin; The Mask of Zorro; Déjà Vu)

“The most practical and best single book on the subject.” (Hollywood Scriptwriter)

“The craftsman’s blueprint for anyone who is serious about writing or developing good screenplays.” (Roger Birnbaum, Chairman, Spyglass Entertainment; former President of Production, Twentieth Century Fox)

“If you’re serious about becoming a screenwriter, start by reading this book.” (Robert Mark Kamen, screenwriter, The Karate Kid and The Power of One)

““…When I pick up the phone for help, Michael Hauge is the call I make.” (Shane Black, Screenwriter: Lethal Weapon 1 & 2; The Last Boy Scout; The Long Kiss Goodnight; Writer/Director: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

“What Michael Hauge does seems quite simple but is in fact quite rare. He takes your ideas and makes them better.” (Christopher Murphey, screenwriter: The Karate Kid (2010); The Unsaid; Body of Proof)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: CollinsRef; Reprint edition (August 16, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062725009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062725004
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MICHAEL HAUGE is a story and script consultant, author and lecturer who works with writers and filmmakers on their screenplays, novels, movies and television projects. He has coached writers, producers, stars and directors on projects for Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, Kirsten Dunst, Charlize Theron and Morgan Freeman, as well as for every major studio and network.

Michael also works extensively with Hollywood executives, producers, agents and managers, helping them sharpen their story and development skills, and improving their companies' abilities to recognize powerful material, employ advanced principles of structure, character arc and theme, skillfully communicate a story's strengths and weaknesses, and work effectively with writers to achieve a commercially successful screenplay.

Michael is the best-selling author of SELLING YOUR STORY IN 60 SECONDS: THE GUARANTEED WAY TO GET YOUR SCREENPLAY OR NOVEL READ and of WRITING SCREENPLAYS THAT SELL, a definitive reference book for the film and television industries, which is now in its 32nd printing for HarperCollins. His seminar with Chris Vogler, THE HERO'S 2 JOURNEYS, has become one of the top-selling DVDs and CDs on story and screenwriting.

Michael has presented seminars and lectures to more than 40,000 participants throughout the US, Canada and Europe. He is on the Board of Directors of the American Screenwriters Association and the Advisory Board for SCRIPTWRITER MAGAZINE in London.

For more information visit his website www.StoryMastery.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This was fortunately one of the first books I started with and it was a dandy. Much better than Syd Field and several of the other starting books. Hague remains upbeat (something you need to break in to screenwriting) and covers all the main points and questions for starting out. Even more important, he talks about why you should and should not be doing it and living a good life.
When you're read for something intermediate, check out Armer's WRITING THE SCREENPLAY and Thom's THE BIG DEAL (about spec scripts that sold in the last decade or so).
And, for advanced techniques go to: Lagos Egri's THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING (more for plays but it does apply) and McKee's STORY . . . and, of course, the superlative WORDPLAYER.COM with free articles by two working screenwriters . .. Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio.
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Format: Paperback
Michael Hauge is one of the top screenwriting consultants in Hollywood. If you're interested in becoming a screenwriter or just curious about the process professional Hollywood screenwriters go through, this is the book for you. It's considered an industry standard by many of the top film schools in New York & L.A. In clear and simple language, Hauge lays out the basic fundamentals of screenwriting. This is a great book for both the novice screenwriter as well as the working professional looking to reacquaint themselves with the fundamentals of screenwriting.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book about ten years ago when I was an aspiring screenwriter. I am now able to make a living at screenwriting and I have to say that I have used Michael Hauge's book as a guide for nearly everything I've written. It has become my Bible of Screenwriting.

This is the perfect book for beginner screenwriters as well as those who have been writing for a long time. Beginners will find all of the basic building blocks needed for a solid script and great characters, and those who have been writing for years will probably read some things and go "aha, that's the part I've been missing!" I've created my own charts for when I start a new script and I base them on everything I learned in this book. Without this book it would have been a long, hard road to learning how to be a good writer.

Michael not only explains the different components necessary for a good story, but gives examples which is extremely helpful. And for those of you exclaiming "but then my stories will be too formulaic if I follow 'rules' too much!" -- that just isn't true. Once you learn and use all of the components of a great story that Michael teaches you, you'll realize that most - if not all - great movies pretty much follow the patterns Michael talks about in this book. Your scripts will be solid - structurally, thematically, and emotionally. You'll learn how to make layered, believable characters that your audience will root for.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in screenwriting.
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Format: Paperback
If my house were burning, and I could only rescue ONE screenwriting book of the 60 that I own and (yes) have read, it would be Michael Hauge's "Writing Screenplays That Sell."

While it is terrific for the beginner, I had already written three scripts before reading this book, but the advice and guidance in this book focused me so well that I now judge my writing experience as "pre-Hauge," and "post-Hauge." Post-Hauge, I have had five scripts reach Semi-Final stage in the Nicholl Fellowship, and three have been optioned.

I have also bought this book as gifts for five friends, including my son, who said that they wanted to learn how to write a feature script.

You won't go wrong following the advice in this book.
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Format: Paperback
This is by far one of the best books on screenwriting that I own. Hauge is a skilled and experienced teacher and his methods are communicated clearly. I find that the book is a perfect blend between the over-technical school (Syd Field) and the "just write it" school (Lazarus, Viki King). Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have written for a living for nearly 40 years and, in my mind, there have been three great books written on the subject of writing (and hundreds of horrid books--including almost all Writer's Digest Books): William Zinsser's On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, Strunk & White's The Elements of Style: 50th Anniversary Edition and this book.

Zinsser's book is a wonderful book on nonfiction writing and on discovering who you are as a writer (and having the courage to express that in all of your work) and Strunk & White's book is a style guide that every writer should have at their elbow day and night. Michael Hague's book (and I've never met or spoken to the man) is the finest book ever written on the subject of story writing and storytelling. It is aimed at screen writers, but every single word of it is equally valuable to novelists. I've owned the book almost since it was first published (and have re-bought it several times because I keep giving it away) and the most recent copy that I bought (2006) is so full of highlighting and underlining that it looks like I was cramming for an exam.

The first half of the book is devoted largely to what it takes to be a screenwriter (and to succeed as a screenwriter commercially) and what the elements of a great screenplay are. For me, the most important sections of this first half are the chapters on story concept, finding ideas and, very importantly, character development.
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