Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Game, TV, and Screenwriting Blog


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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Craig Mazin has a gritty post about screenwriting books and the non-screenwriters that write them. I agree with the sentiment. One reason I wrote Crafty Screenwriting was that most screenwriting books seem to have been written in a neverland where the goal is a well-written script. Or something. Having worked for 10 years as a development executive, I noticed they missed important things like the need to have a hook. While anything that gets your juices flowing is worth something, I don't know why people are reading books by people who've never made a living from scripts. I would happily read a book about screenwriting from a producer, another development exec, an agent, an actor or a director, if there were one, before I'd read one by a professional screenwriting teacher. And I've heard the same horror stories about certain screenwriting book writers and the scripts they've perpetrated.

I also agree with Craig's sentiment that you should read and write many screenplays, too, rather than just reading many screenwriting books. The only screenwriting book I think I ever got much out of was my own, by the process of writing it, and crystallizing what I thought I knew.

But then, I'd already read a thousand scripts and had spent years trying to set movie projects up, while writing on the side, professionally. When you're already in the door, it's hard to remember how difficult it can be to find where the door is.

The right kind of screenwriting books are useful. (Craig wasn't saying they aren't, but I feel inclined to assert it, since I've perpetrated my own screenwriting book!) People don't always know where to start. A good screenwriting book can walk people through the process. A good screenwriting book talks about what a good screenplay is, and about writing groups, and where to find scripts to read. In my upcoming book, Crafty TV Writing, I'll talk about how to watch TV analytically, and how to get feedback on your specs, and what the writer's room is like, and who do you send your specs to, and how is TV writing different from movie writing. I tried to write Crafty Screenwriting to be the book I wish I'd read when I started writing screenplays lo these many years ago, and ditto Crafty TV Writing.

Anyway, if I didn't think there was a point to it, why would I have a blog about screenwriting?


I think that any screenwriting book, blog or website that seeks to fulfill a need within the industry is reason enough for its existence and support. It's the reason I started my site, and the reason I came up with my top ten rules for low budget/D2DVD screenwriting - so many people were just getting it wrong.

I wholeheartedly agree with you about concept/hook. Soooo much stuff I see just lies there and withers on the page. If people were to start with a fresh hook in their writing they would be halfway there to a sale. A good hook is also a great tool to refer back to when rewriting - a "What was I thinking /does this scene belong here?" measuring stick for the whole script. I look at my own stuff and go, "How did I get so off track? Oh yeah, I'm not reinforcing the hook that I started with!"

By Blogger Cunningham, at 4:12 PM  

I don't read screenwriting books anymore because there comes a point when you are reading to avoid writing. Much like actors who keep taking so many classes that they don't go to auditions.

I liked what you had to say on your site and that is why I purchased your book. This is the same reason that I will buy your new book. I wish that John Rogers would write one as I enjoy his viewpoints also.

By Blogger John Donald Carlucci, at 4:27 PM  

someone commented over there that David Trottier is nothing but a ripoff, I thought he was one of the good ones? BTW, I own your book, it was one of the first ones I grabbed (our screenwriting group passed around a list of recommendations)

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