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The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time Paperback – September 1, 2010
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The Coffee Break Screenwriter is Writing Down the Bones for screenwriters plus more, the more or meat on the bones being all of the practical information about the art and business of screenwriting that MS Alessandra includes in her book. Not sure if you should spring for The Coffee Break Screenwriter? Go to Alessandra's website called On the Page Script Consulting & Screenwriting Classes (you'll find a link to it fast by running a search on pilar Alessandra) and listen to one of the many free podcasts on offer. That should convince you.
I've read several books on screenwriting, by Syd Field, Robert McKee, Blake Snyder, David Trottier, and others, and none of them has sparked, inspired, and informed me as much as The Coffee Break Screenwriter (though I can't deny that reading them may have helped prepare me for it). As her podcasts illustrate, Alessandra is an insightful, knowledgeable, inspirational, encouraging, down-to-earth, and genuinely infectiously enthusiastic teacher, and all these qualities come across on every page of The Coffee Break Screenwriter.
I own several books published by Michael Wiese Productions, the publisher of The Coffee Break Screenwriter who specializes in publishing books on film, video, and screenwriting, and all are excellently produced, well-bound, built-to-last, and The Coffee Break Screenwriter is no exception.
Let's put it this way: when she says from concept to page, she's not kidding. You fill out these worksheets and you get to brainstorm, outline, beat out, and break down the story of your screenplay. And only then do you actually get to write the first draft. The fact that chapter 5 is titled "The First Draft" gives you an idea the amount of work you are putting in with chapters 1-4! Other reviews break down the chapter titles, so you know that you will get help in rewriting your first draft.
What a great book. You still have to sit there and figure stuff out, but, instead of just sitting around asking yourself "how do I get from point A to point B?", Pilar will help get you there by asking you the right questions.
Kind of like Socratic learning, right? You can't figure out the correct answer if you don't know the correct question. Pilar's book asks the correct questions. Now, get writing!
I used to think my screenplays were pretty decent, but after reading this book I realized that I didn't think of the basics when writing. I've managed to win awards for my films, but it was directing other people's stories that I did so.
Knowing how to approach your basics before you try to get crazy with a story really brought it home for me. I can truly say this book has given me more great information than any class I have ever taken in my life. So with a sincere heart, I can't thank you enough for your great wisdom Pilar, you truly are a great teacher.
Page sixty is where most screenplays go to die and that's why her chapters on story, structure and outline alone are worth the price of the book, in my opinion.
Whether you are a beginner or master, there's something in this book for you. Although if you're just starting out and really concerned about format, I would also recommend Dave Trottier's "The Screenwriter's Bible." He's coming out with a fifth edition soon and there isn't a single formatting question that this book hasn't answered.
If you've got that great idea, there are no more excuses. Get this book and get after it.