Featured Book of the Month
Your Screenplay Sucks! by William Akers
100 Ways To Make It Great
Your Screenplay Sucks! is a compendium of 100 of the most common errors that hamstring, torpedo, and otherwise bring down a script on its way to the big screen...and what you can do about them.
Divided into three "Acts" -- covering storytelling, the actual writing, and what to do once you've finished -- the book is further divided into chapters covering more specific subjects like idea, characters, format, rewriting, and so forth.
The book is generally formatted as a long checklist of thou-shalt-nots, but then goes on to show all the corresponding "thou shalts" that'll knock away all your amateurishness and turn you into a pro -- or at least turn your script into a script that gets read rather than tossed.
Getting read is a big hurdle in Hollywood, and Akers gives advice that'll help you clear it. But there's a lot more here than that. The book amounts to practically a screenwriting course, covering the nuts and bolts of storytelling, characters, scene construction, dialogue, revision, presentation -- and liberally sprinkled with quotes, examples and samples to help you along.
While we could cite specifics, suffice it to say that the wealth of tips, many of them covering both sides of an issue, will target every error you have made and are thinking of making, as well as errors you are going to make in the future.
Akers errs on the side of completeness, discussing several indepth screenplay-chewing revision models. One of them is bound to fit your writing style.
And he goes on to discuss some real advanced tips that experts use, like making place a character, using rhyming scenes, image order, and all manner of advanced scenecraft.
And Akers goes even deeper to give you tips on actual line-by-line rewriting -- showing initial choices and revisions he's made on one of his own scripts to show why changes were made, and how they improve on the original. A rather exhaustive series of pages covers these items, and if you can get through it, then you'll find it very enlightening.
Page 180's discussion of "image order" is a particularly enlightening selection. Something as simple as paying attention to the order of images as they appear in your screenplay (screenplays are a visual medium, after all) can help you heighten your artistry -- and indeed, help get you focused on your artistry in the first place. In fact, the entire section on scene description is gold, and worth the price of admission.
Any good book on screenplays ought to have a slam-bang ending...and brother, this one doesn't disappoint. The last part is a whole slew of hardheaded advice designed, basically, to cut you down to size so you can fit through Hollywood's doors.
You might find this part rough going...but you'd better read it! It's some of the best and most accurate advice you're going to get in this business. Think of it as a Silkwood-style powerwash, blasting off all the stray radiation from your callow youth, leaving you raw and ready to take on the world.
One of the best overall books on screenwriting we've seen -- if you follow half the advice in here, you'll find yourself well ahead of the pack. So set aside some of your stimulus money and head out and get yourself a copy...you'll be glad you did!
StoryPros Verdict: Recommended
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