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Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays (Writing & Selling Screenplays) Paperback – April 1, 2014
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Once immersed, the reader can tell that this is a book written by someone who truly loves film and has immersed herself in the thriller genre. Ms. Hay basically saves you hours of analysis and research -- she does it for you by breaking it down in this wonderful book that I can't gush enough about. I've worn its edges, marked up and highlighted throughout.
In Part One, she breaks down what defines a thriller (it's definitely not horror and explains why sometimes there is overlap) and its sub-genres. Issues that one finds in thrillers, so hopefully you don't do the same while writing your spec. I think there's a breakdown of at least 35-40 different male protagonist characters that you find in thrillers along with a number of female and child characters that pop up in thrillers. She doesn't leave out how secondary characters can play an effective role in thrillers and shouldn't be neglected in development. Basically, part one lays down the foundation of what constitutes a thriller and offers a great boilerplate for you to begin your draft.
Part Two focuses on the actual writing of the thriller,the nuts and bolts -- the building blocks so to speak. The three C's - Clarity, Conflict & Characters are delved into in depth. They are the primary elements of the thriller genre. Great focus on creating a thriller logline, with examples from current films as well as outlining and why it's a vital requirement in creating not only a thriller but in all screenplays. Great dialogue regarding tone, your opening page, the first ten pages and set up. I mean...good, good stuff.
Part Three - mainly focuses on the selling of your thriller screenplay...basically giving you a play by play to get your baby out there into the market or in front of eyeballs.
I love how Ms. Hay sprinkles tidbits from working writers and industry execs throughout the book -- including Twitter handles for many -- giving you no excuse to give these people a follow if you have an active account.
Applause Ms. Hay -- thank you...thank you...thank you....
You have no idea how much this book assisted me, got me over the hump of writers fear that we all go through and really gave me great exercises to play with.
I literally rewrote my logline with your book in my hand as I stood in line for movie screenings :)
I can't wait for the release of your Drama book!
The first settles the question of "What is a thriller?" Lucy breaks the thriller genre into 22 sub-genres, and explains and illustrates each with examples. Then she analyses thrillers from the point-of-view of the protagonist, and comes up with eight common male protagonists in thrillers, and ten female equivalents. That's a total of forty different ways to slice up the thriller pie. If you want to write one, you need to have a grip on this stuff.
Part two addresses the business of writing your thriller screenplay. Please note: this has nothing to do with outlining formulas or beat sheets or any of those aids other people have written about so ably. The "writing of" section covers tools which are frequently underrated by newbie writers: premise, logline and story outline. What elements will you find in the logline of a marketable screenplay? This book tells you, with real life illustrations. Screenplays are about conflict, but how much conflict is enough? When does your protagonist move from flight to fight? How do you bring your story to a resolution? Everyone knows that the first ten pages of a screenplay are vital in grabbing a reader's attention, but what are the traps to avoid? They're listed here.
Part three is all about getting ready to sell your screenplay. As someone who has been asked for feedback on screenplays in the past, I know that many newbie writers have no idea of how to handle it. Lucy provides five questions the writer should ask about feedback that will put a boundary in place and help them maintain their equilibrium. Probably the biggest single question to ask about a screenplay, before you thrust it before the eyes of a startled world, would be, Is this screenplay ready? Most I've seen were so far from ready that a few honest comments generated despair. Good work was thrown aside, interesting projects abandoned, and writers with potential were left tottering on the edge of true failure, which is to quit writing altogether.
Assuming the screenplay is ready, the next step is to pitch it to the people with the power to get it made into a film. What are the basics of a pitch? Do you know how to handle an emergency pitch, a one-page pitch, an advanced pitch? Can you write an appealing treatment? What are the common mistakes that turn readers off a pitch?
At this point you'll be dreaming of a simple sale, a large cheque and an Academy Award. Keep dreaming! Better yet, stay awake and read Lucy's observations on the myriad tracks that can open up before you as you wend your way through the undergrowth of Potential-Filmmaker Forest. Have you considered transmedia? Do you know how to use your sample screenplay open a door into the industry? How should you respond to an offer of an option? How do you find a producer, or a director? There's a lot to consider and Lucy lays much of it out before you. If you've sold several screenplays, you don't need this book. If you're a newbie—somebody standing on the edge, looking in—this might be the book you've been searching for. And if you're even thinking about writing a thriller, you'd be nuts not to buy and read 'Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays' by Lucy V. Hay.