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Tries to be philosophical, but fails
on February 2, 2011
I wanted to give this 1 star, but due to the inexplicably high 5 star ratings (and the single 1 star rating) I felt that spreading the wealth among the lower stars might be more persuasive in convincing others of this book's shortcomings.
The edition I have is a few years old, and I felt like I got absolutely nothing from the book after purchasing it. But a recent revival, of sorts, made me curious whether it was I who had missed something important in the book. Did I fail somehow to glean the important points and guidance?
The answer is NO! I can't quite put my finger on it, but this book seemed very useless. Perhaps it was the author's analytical approach to screenplay writing that made it useless. She dissects all the aspects that go into a screenplay and then regurgitates it into her book as if we are reading a term paper. Or more precisely, it really feels as if she kept notes of her own writing experiences, and then compiled her thought-process into this book. For instance, early on in the book, she begins to talk about organizing storylines, subplots, AB&C stories, etc., but hadn't even broached the subject of "STORY." Many of the more popular and highly recommended screenplay books seem to start off with the basic question, "What is your story?" or "Should I even be telling this story?" Not so here. She jumps right into refining your screen writing as if you have already completed a screenplay with a well rounded story outline.
But what if you already have a well rounded story or completed screenplay? Well then, you will again find much of this book useless. If you have a completed story, you won't care about how to build a character (which, by the way, isn't addressed until LATE into the book.) I've seen books that were too advanced for beginners and too elementary for experts....but its an odd thing to have a book that is simultaneously too elementary for A BEGINNER and yet too analytical for an EXPERT.
I mean this in all seriousness: This book nearly made me lose hope in spending another dollar on screenwriting books. However, through friends and acquaintances, I've learned that there are actually USEFUL and HELPFUL and INSPIRING screenwriting books on the market. Go look for them!