63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
An interesting perspective to write from,
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This review is from: Writing for Emotional Impact: Advanced Dramatic Techniques to Attract, Engage, and Fascinate the Reader from Beginning to End (Paperback)
This book is about how to create emotional reactions in the audience.
I liked it and read it two or three times. Many of the suggestions belong to techniques used in Hollywood (by writers and directors) to stir emotional responses.
Some ideas might be catalogued within the cliche section. For example, if you want the public to like your character then put a scene in which your character is nice to a puppy or to children. The fact is that many movies use this technique, I know because since I read Iglesias' book that kind of scene keeps coming up in many movies (and thanks to Iglesia now I notice that more).
At the beginning of the book Iglesias warns you. Have you ever wanted to know a magic trick, and then... when told... regret you learnt the secret of the trick? Iglesias say that could happen to you reading this book, the magic of stories might fade away. That didn't happen to me.
This book gives you many tips to achieve emotional responses from the audience. Your challenge would be to use that knowledge in a new and refreashing way, so that you stay away from clichés.
This is not the ultimate book on stirring emotions in the audience. It is certainly a bit simplistic. But in the end, the real fact is that I just happened to like it.
If you want to know about structure, plot, character... there are better books. If you want to think for a while a bit about story telling from a some what different point of view (that of audiences and their emotions) this book will deliver to some degree. Probably some would have troubles with the fact that he doesn't seem to address story telling from an artisitic stand... rather he kind of treats story telling as a series of techniques consciously used to stir specific emotions in the audience. In this sense, the book is kind of prescriptive.
Here is a short version of the Table of content:
1. Introduction: The emotion-delivery business
2. The Reader: Your only audience.
3. Concept: Unique attraction.
4. Theme: Universal Meaning
5. Character: Captivating empathy.
6. Story: Rising tension.
7. Structure: Engaging desing.
8. Scenes: Mesmerizing moments.
9. Description: Riveting style.
10. Dialogue: Vivid Voices.
11. Final Thoughts: Painting on the page.
Some topics that might interest you are:
Ideal emotional responses to a concept
What makes an idea appealing
12 ways to increase your idea's appeal
Finding your vision
The five key questions for building a character
Connecting with characters
Three ways to connect with characters
Engaiging the reader from beginning to end
Emotional elements of each act
Key elements of a dramatic scene
The emotional palette
Common amateur mistakes
Generating a riveting reading experience
Bonus professional tips
When on-the-nose dialogue is acceptable
Although this is a screenwriting book, don't fear is you write other kind of fiction. This book does not address camera technicalities or that sort of things. There are other books for that purpouse. I hope I might be able to post a review of some of those books later.
One last thing: Creating emotions in any reader is the most difficult task a writer can face. Everything you learn about storytelling is ultimately about the art of creating emotions in readers. This is extremely difficult to achieve and the reason why so many writers fail. To do that, your story has to be created with heart, with craft and with great command of many technical tools of dramaturgy. Besides, even if your story is flawless from the technical point of view, if the moment is not right, audiences (readers) will not respond to your story. You might write a master piece and still be unknown.
If you write for the love of writing alone (with no desire for fame or wealth) then you wont mind if no one ever hears about you and your story. That's why so many writers advice you to only write for the love of it. In the end you could very well be the only one to read your story and enjoy it.
The advantage of writing for the love of it is that you'll have time... time to think about storytelling... time to learn about storytelling... and time to create emotional impact with your storytelling skills. It will be an advantage over all those thousands of people who are desperately trying to "make it" as writers because they want fame and wealth... they don't enjoy the process... and they don't take the time and effort to really learn dramatic writing... Most of them quickly realize that there are betters ways of making money and leave. But not you... you'll still be working on becoming a story teller, because you enjoy it and feel the passion for it.
If you are interested in this book ("Writing for emotional impact") you probably have realized what so many ignore: the level of achievement you attain as a storyteller is directly related to your ability to generate emotional reactions. And I'm sorry to tell you this: if that is your goal then many many years of study await you. This book might very well be the beginning of that journey. It certainly will not be the end... not even the middle.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 29, 2007 5:49:39 PM PDT
Would you recommend this book to a fiction writer or do you feel that his book just applies to screenwriting? Can you also list what is listed in the table of contents? I am trying to get a feel whether this book would be beneficial for my writing. Thx.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2007 5:12:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 1, 2007 9:22:30 PM PDT
Many believe that our audience as screenwriters are the people who watch movies. Not so.
The reality is that screenwriting is still "paper
writing" and our REAL audience as screenwriters are the "Readers", not the final audience that will see the movie at the end of the film production process.
"Readers" are the people in the production companies that actually READ the screenplay. So, our job is to stir reader's emotions with only the power of words. In that sense, I believe that this books could apply to fiction writers.
A caveat: as you probably know novels and short stories have special needs (and structure) and are different than screenwriting. How? Well, a novel stands completely in the shoulder of the writer. The audience actually experience everything you write in your novel as you intended to. Not so in screenwriting.
Now, here comes the part why some think screenwriting might be one of the most difficult type of writing: Although you must stir emotional respones in your "reader", the true magic will emerge when the movie is made (good looking characters, music, manipulation of camera shots, angles...)
As a screenwriter you face a paradoxe. You can't write too much, since you have to fill a very specific number of pages. Whereas writing a novel you can use all the words you want to create an image. Then the challenge for the screenwriter is to write as "least as possible" and yet, create the greatest emotional response from the reader. For this reason, I believe that if you are a fiction writer you could benefit a lot by studying screenwriting. It will give you a discipline some people miss when writing for other more "flexible" mediums.
To sum up and to answer your question: Yes, any fiction writer could benefit from reading screenwriting books -this one included.
Would I recommend it to you. Well, I don't know what is your stage of knowledge. Maybe you have studied a lot, may be you don't like the book, or maybe you love it. So, I'm afraid you'll have to run the risk to find out for yourself.
I didn't realize no one has yet listed the table of content. For this reason I'll try to put it in my main post.
Hope this helped.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2010 6:30:35 PM PDT
Mark L. Jackson says:
You sound like someone who spends more time reading books, than writing.
"Our" job? "Paradoxe?" (note the quotes) I think not.
Ironic that you preach to people to not fall into "cliches," and yet you flog numerous ones unmercifully.
Screenwriting is NOT about filling a specific number of pages. Yes, you can write too much, and many do. I suspect you are one. A novelist CAN NOT use as many words as they want.
Content listing is filler, and nothing more. I suppose that falls into using as many words as you want.
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