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The Screenwriter's Problem Solver: How to Recognize, Identify, and Define Screenwriting Problems Paperback – February 17, 1998
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Can't get your characters to shut up? Is the bit player in Act II more compelling than your protagonist? Do your scenes drag on f-o-r-e-v-e-r? Whatever your problem, screenwriting guru Syd Field can help; he's written four previous books on screenwriting, teaches worldwide, and is "involved in the reading and writing of about a thousand screenplays a year." Screenplays bog down in vague and mysterious ways, says Field; identifying a screenwriting problem is half the battle. Fixing a screenplay that seems dazed and confused might seem like Mission: Impossible, but you've got to have courage under fire. By identifying symptoms in the writing, Field isolates about 20 different screenwriting problems, each related to plot, character, or structure (after all, what else is there?). His fixes generally involve getting to know your characters or story better, through the use of automatic writing, biographical sketches, and the like. For examples of spectacular screenwriting, he offers excerpts from the screenplays for Thelma and Louise, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Apollo 13, and Silence of the Lambs. Field is a man of many mantras: "Writing is rewriting," "Film is behavior," "Drama is conflict," "Action is character." But his advice is so useful that you'll forgive him his facile phrasemaking. And you'll thank him for persuading you that, yes, "a problem is an opportunity, a challenge that will allow you to ultimately improve your craft." --Jane Steinberg
With examples from Pulp Fiction, How to Make an American Quilt, The Shawshank Redemption, Crimson Tide, Broken Arrow...and more of Hollywood's biggest hits
"The most sought-after screenwriting teacher in the world."—The Hollywood Reporter
"If I were writing screenplays...I would carry Syd Field around in my back pocket wherever I went."—Steven Bochco, writerproducerdirector, L.A. Law, NYPD Blue
"I based Like Water For Chocolate on what i learned in Syd's books. Before, I always felt structure imprisoned me, but what I learned was structure really freed me to focus on the story."—Laura Esquivel
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Top Customer Reviews
Lecturing on about how important it is to adapt one's script to the right format, and constant nagging on about avoiding talking heads, the author himself could have considered checking up on some of his own advice on how to keep the reader's interest, and avoiding dull and uninteresting writing.
I forced myself to continue through the 3-8 chapter (of a total of 22) with the cod-liver-oil-attitude; "I hate this, but I must - it's supposed to be good for me". Repeating sentences every ten minutes might function well in the author's classroom lecturing, but on print it's overly annoying. Especially when nothing really new seems to surface after chapter one. Sorry, but I got the feeling that somebody is trying to "squeeze some extra dollars out of me by using a well selling name", rather than was my hope; a sharing of real knowledge... hopefully made out of the urge to tell something of real value. Isn't this the perfect example of the wrong motivation for writing, the very same as the author is urging his reader no to do?
A much better read, and far more comprehensive, informative and enlightening, I find Linda Seger's book "How to make a good script great" which I am currently enjoying.