- Hardcover: 138 pages
- Publisher: BN Publishing (May 19, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 160796130X
- ISBN-13: 978-1607961307
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 136 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Art Of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis In The Creative Interpretation Of Human Motives
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For many years, Lajos Egri's highly opinionated but very enjoyable The Art of Dramatic Writing has been a well-guarded secret of playwrights, scriptwriters, and writers for television. Unlike many other books on playwrighting (several of which Egri criticizes during the course of this one), the author's systematic breakdown of the essentials for creating successful realistic plays and screenplays effectively demystifies the process of creative writing. Egri, who formulated his thoughts about "a well-made play" during its heyday (the 1940s and '50s), places a premium on an exhaustive analysis of characters and discussion of their psychological motivations. The writer is exhorted to find a premise to explore and to discover which characters will most effectively demonstrate this thesis, then is shown how most effectively to place them into conflict with each other. Conflict itself is also discussed, particularly how to create scenarios in which the crisis develops at a pace that feels unforced and natural. While Egri's view of the well-made play has little space for either the spare musings of Beckett and Pinter or the conscious excesses of non-narrative and other experimental writing, it nonetheless remains an essential text for writers drawn to realistic drama, and to any writer interested in the fundamental motivations of human behavior. --John Longenbaugh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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* Formulate your premise. Premise is a statement, idea, or conviction that your story proves true. For example, the premise of Romeo and Juliet would be something like "Love defies even death."
* Choose a pivotal character who will force the conflict.
* Orchestrate the other characters. The unity of opposites must be binding. Polar opposites must form a dialectic which creates a unified tension.
* Be careful to select the correct point of attack. Every point of attack starts with conflict.
* There are several types of conflict, such as jumping conflict, but you only want rising or foreshadowing conflict.
* No conflict can rise without perpetual exposition, which is transition. For example, a character going about his daily life doesn't suddenly become a NAZI, it happens in gradual steps--transition.
* Rising conflict, the product of exposition and transition, will ensure growth.
* Characters must conflict--there must be some polarity.
* Crisis will lead to climax. Climax will lead to conclusion.
* Dialogue should come from the voice of the character, not the writer.
Many TV, film, and novel plots and characters lack compelling conflict. The characters are just floating by... until something big happens. Lajos Egri illustrates how to change all this.
One of the things that makes this book a classic is its simplicity. The book start exploring how you as a dramatic writer can use Premise as the guiding sign through out the whole process of writing a story.
Once you have a premise you can work on creating your characters (using the premise to do that). To do this you'll have to know your character's physiology, sociology, pshychology, etc.
Once you have your characters you can work on creating the story using the principle of contradiction, thesis, antithesis and synthesis. You'll have to use clashing forces... (again, you use the premise as explained at the beginning of the book).
Then the author covers some of the most important elements in writing dramatic material of quality.
In my case I found the chapter of "Jumping" quite enlightening. Once you read this chapter you'll understand why many, many stories just don't work. The characters jump and then... they fall to their death... and to the apaty of the audience.
What is it that I like about this book? Well, I read it... time passes... come back to it again... time passes... and I come back again to read it!
Where as most books make you feel like writing is extremely difficult, this one always makes me feel like I'm in command and that great story telling is within my grasp.
In the first chapter, titled Premise, Mr Egri tells us "A man sits in his workshop, busy with an invention of wheels and springs. You ask him what the gadget is, what it is meant to do. He looks at you confidingly and whispers: 'I really don't know.'"
This is apt for not only the play write or author with the first draft, it can pertain to the reader of Steinbeck or Faulkner or Joyce, BUT if person has read or at least browsed The Art of Dramatic Writing, then he/she will have a path to follow whether towards a finished play or novel or the thrill and enjoyment of understanding great writing.
This book is a must in anyone's library.
But I wouldn't buy this edition again under any circumstance!! The formatting is bizarre. The text is in a tiny, tiny font with unindented paragraphs with no space between the paragraphs. The only way to determine where a paragraph ends is when a line stops partway across the page, but occasionally lines end somewhere in the middle of the page as well as the middle of a sentence and continue the incomplete sentence on the next line. Throw in occasional misspellings, entire sections omitted from Ergi's original book, no index...this version is a trainwreck! Any publisher who would do this to a book and its readers has a pretty low regard for both books and readers.