- 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: 140 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #715,567 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 alternate Hardcover edition.
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I am only at the beginning of the first chapter and have eye fatigue. Really sad.
The downside... the text, near as I can tell, was written in the '20s - '30s. Egri has numerous scientific analogies, some which are very true and enlightening, but there are also scientific anomalies (for example, I don't think it is scientifically accurate that all the cells in the body are exchanged every 7 years), though his overall advice to the playwright does not suffer. And a few of the plays and playwrights he cites are out of the contemporary repertoire.
One might also be tempted to bemoan Egri's love for Ibsen, and talk about how Doll's House is not an "exciting" play for modern audiences, but I would counter that I agree with Egri in that a fashionable/provocative/avant garde play of today MAY get more play TODAY and may even make you more money, but the kind of approach Egri describes will create BETTER plays that last longer AND there is nothing in Egri's approach that precludes experimentation with style.
What does this book NOT do? It does not teach you how to write good dialogue, or how to create a 10-minute play (I think Egri may have cringed at the idea, though I could be wrong) or other beginning playwriting technical issues, BUT, I think some of those technical playwriting things are best served on an individual basis in a classroom, and the more overarching ideas are definitely more important to a playwright who knows they can write readable and speakable dialogue, and can craft the arc of an interesting scene.
Lastly, and maybe my largest complaint, is against the publisher. THERE ARE A TON OF TYPOS AND WONKY FORMATTING IN THIS BOOK! A TON! It REALLY made me, at times, question the quality of the message based on the medium. GET IT TOGETHER!
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.
- there are no page numbers - problematic for a scholarly text
- it is riddled with typos that appear almost systematic - specific letters in recurring words are replaced with non-letter characters, such as ampersands, British pound symbols, etc.
- the formatting is flawed - the font changes throughout, even in mid-sentence; sentences stop in the middle of the page
- there is no publishing information listed at all - no publisher, location, edition date
This appears to be some cheap knock-off of the classic book, very different from the versions which my classmates have. i don't know how or why Amazon is selling this apparently unauthorized "edition." Find a different copy to purchase.