- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: Focal Press; 1 edition (October 6, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0240820606
- ISBN-13: 978-0240820606
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Screenwriter’s Roadmap: 21 Ways to Jumpstart Your Story 1st Edition
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About the Author
teaches in the MFA in Screenwriting and Producing Programs at both UCLA School of Film & Television and USC School of Cinematic Arts, and is a faculty advisor in the MFA in Writing Program at Goddard College. He also wrote the cult hit "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead", among many other credits.
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An experienced professor in screenwriting with many successful screenplays to his name, Neil Landau states on the outset that there is no absolute formula when it comes to writing a successful screenplay. This is illustrated by the differing responses of the successful screenwriters he interviews. Landau's questions are incisive and straightforward, yet at times he receives lengthy roundabout replies.
Simplistic readers may object to the full quotes in several interviews and wonder why they have not been simplified. The truth, I conclude, is that simplistic people have no business screenwriting. There are various aspects and layers you need to look into and must never neglect or belittle. Brilliance, I see, is a prerequisite. And brilliant students will have no problems discerning these experts' answers, which, in the first place, are there not because Mr. Landau is not in a position to edit direct quotes, but because they are necessary. I found them not only helpful, but enjoyable, in fact. You get to look into various heads and learn how the fascinating minds work, while at the same time see these admirable individuals for the persons they are. For me, this is a delightful bonus.
The human aspects, intriguing insights, and tips from real-life experiences are parts that no reader will ever find when they google Screenwriting 101. THE SCREENWRITER'S ROADMAP is unique and is so much more than your usual lessons in writing techniques, which, here, are easy to follow and clearly outlined in details. You can easily see that Mr. Landau is a brilliant writer and an experienced teacher. He is also connected to many successful personage in the film industry, 21 of whom contribute wealth of knowledge and tips into this treatise.
Will following the book's 21 chapters jumpstart new screenwriters to the expert level? Not overnight because that requires practice, and Mr Landau has challenged them to write what they most fear. However, the mapped road is certain to take them there along the straight path.
Neil lays out 21 steps on how to create and sustain a television series, supporting each one with valuable interviews with some of television's most successful showrunners (the people at the top of the food chain when it comes to running a series). What was most impressive to me was the depth of research on hundreds of shows, past and present, that Neil uses to support his main points. In one chapter, there's a chart of most current programs (and that's saying a lot) and how they're broken down into acts. The amount of time just analysing programs for that fact alone is staggering.
I have only one criticism of the book and that's its lack for illustrative pictures. Of course, this is a rights question, and it may have been too expensive to include photos of even one tenth of the shows mentioned. I'm only hoping that this first edition will be successful enough to enable the publishers to include photos in the next edition.
As a professor in the Loyola Marymount University's MFA program in writing and producing for television, I'm going to recommend that all of my students read this book. If you have any thoughts about a career writing for television, I recommend that you read it, too.
There are loads of exercises and questions to help troubleshoot and look at your story from a fresh angle, when you're already tired of staring at the same scenes. The interviews delve deep into the craft, discussing the headaches of multiple drafts and how MUCH a script will change from initial inspiration to the last on-set rewrite. The book's other asset is its avoidance of formulas and quick fixes. Neil respects the movies that don't play by the rules, and doesn't pretend there's only one right way to tell a story on screen. It's pragmatic without being cynical, and positive without devolving into a pep talk.
Even if you've got a shelf full of screenwriting tomes, it's time to make room for the ROADMAP.