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Something Startling Happens: The 120 Story Beats Every Writer Needs to Know Paperback – October 1, 2011
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"A dazzling new nuts-a-bolts story guide that reveals the extremely important "in betweens" left out in other screenwriting books. The perfect companion to Blake Snyder's Save The Cat." -- John Philip Dayton (Executive Producer, Director, Writer, The Waltons, Eight Is Enough, Matlock, The Ray Bradbury Theatre).
Todd Klick demystifies how to approach the script-writing process. He will give you tons of "aha" thoughts, and will help you interpret story in a way that will give you answers. -- Jen Grisanti, author of Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story, Writing Instructor for Writers on the Verge with NBC, blogger for The Huffington Post
Top Customer Reviews
First I want to say that I am a writer (working one in Hollywood) that is immensely appreciative of any material out there that seeks to help and inspire others who have recognized the burning desire in themselves to get their voice heard through the most powerful mediums of modern storytelling, TV and Film. I'm not one of those screenwriters who walks around town talking down on writing gurus and instructors. If you can manage to carve out an enjoyable life that is related to your passion, more power to you. Everyone should be so lucky.
However. This book has the power to obstruct one's growth as a writer. I feel if you read this book, and take its theories, and minute-by-minute movie analysis (literally -- this book posits that each minute i.e. individual page of a screenplay has a specific and different goal than the page behind and in front of it) you are doing yourself a huge disservice as a writer. It's really bizarre, and if wasn't so bizarre, I probably would have stopped reading well before reaching the 1/3 mark. Here's an example: Minute 23 - Something Scary Happens. The author then references many different movies, citing instances at Minute 23 where one character aims a gun at another, where a patient tells a doctor he cannot be fixed, where a love interest experiences an inconvenience at work... on and on... with an absurdly broad interpretation of the word "scary." There are dozens of examples.Read more ›
Not all movies fit the beats (Star Wars has a number of missing moments) and the book ends at 120 minutes, leaving several movie analyses unfinished (great help to us there, then. He claims to have created up to 180 beats, but he'll only put 120 in the book, even though several movies aren't finished by beat 120. Thanks for that.)
Klick makes no attempt to look at the underlying meaning or cause behind these beats - what is it that makes 'the dodge' such a common trope in minute 106? What is it evoking in the audience, what is it trying to achieve? What is its purpose? Not one word on this, perhaps the most crucial aspect of any kind of plot analysis. The result is a colour-by-numbers guide that allows for superficial analysis of a script (do I have a dodge on page 106? Oh good.) but no understanding of why this particular order of beats is (apparently) so magical.Read more ›
Also, for those reviews that state that this is a worthy companion to Save The Cat, please don't be misled by that. This is nothing like, or in any way relevant to those books. At all.
As a a professional in the industry, and student of the craft, this is not an efficient way to write. Every scene serves the individual story that you are telling, not a page count or specific beat. Read this if you must, but take it with a grain of salt. The only valuable thing that this book might be good for would be to help break a little writer's block, but little else.
I will admit that this is the first book on the craft that I actually wish I could return because I found no value in it. I applaud the author for finding a system that might work for him, but I believe that it will do little for others.
The thesis of the book is complete hogwash. It's wrong-headed, reductive and pathetic (particularly in the author's attempts to shoe-horn his thesis into the various film examples). There's nothing here of value. In fact, if anything, reading this book will confuse you and set you back. It's paradigm without intelligence. You can add this title to the increasingly large pile of books by non-writers (or unsuccessful writers) trying to cash in on the magic-formula, strike-it-rich screenwriting book craze. Sad, sad, sad...
They should rename this book Something Predictable Happens (at Each Exact Minute, Every Time, in Every Script).
I never bother to write reviews. But this time, I just had to get the word out. Caveat emptor!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Awesome!!! Any writer of film and television should all devour this book!! Your bible has arrived!Published 18 months ago by Cheryl C. Hudockl
I've found that not all movies follow this minute-by-minute thing 100%. Even some of the examples on the website for this book have a couple scenes where he stretched to make the... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jack A. Kagan
A very handy reference for deconstructing scene-by-scene dynamic.Published 19 months ago by Moira77
What It's About: Something Startling Happens is a unique book that looks at the story beats that all great movies follow minute-by-minute. Read morePublished on July 2, 2014 by Tom Farr
Others have expressed far more articulately here my irritation and amazement that such a book supposedly about the craft of screewriting could have seduced me into buying it. Read morePublished on January 31, 2014 by hijo3
“Have you read ‘Something Startling Happens’?” a fellow participant at a novelist’s workshop asked me, “it lays out 120 story beats found in many screenplays. Read morePublished on January 21, 2014 by Rick Hubbard
I'll start off by saying that I'm not a screenwriter -- I'm a romance novelist. I'm always on the lookout for books that help me with the nuts and bolts of plot because figuring... Read morePublished on November 25, 2013 by CG54
James Frey has discovered another way to look at structuring story. This technique not only fuels your script, but it keeps you, the writer, in the present, up close and personal... Read morePublished on November 22, 2013 by Elizabeth Appell