Featured Book of the Month
Horror Screenwriting by Devin Watson
The Nature of Fear
Every writer believes they can write any type of story.
As creative people, we often come up with great ideas from all sorts of genres -- comedy, horror, even tear-soaked dramas. But more and more, screenwriters are being told by their agents and managers to specialize. They want to sell you as a specialist.
A writer who's all over the map with his material is difficult to market. Are you a Sci-Fi writer or a Comedy writer? Actioners or Rom-Coms? While you may find this frustrating, you will likely have more success by sticking to one genre.
Therefore, books written specifically for individual genres are always needed. They can help you hone your skills, learn the ins and outs of a genre, and give you the tools you need to set you apart from other writers who are only dabbling in it.
Horror films remain a staple of the film universe - they're cheap to make, easy to produce, and people love to be scared. Every genre goes in and out of favor, but there is always a market for horror. They also do well in foreign markets. An audience’s desire to be scared is universal, and transcends barriers of language and culture.
Horror Screenwriting: The Nature of Fear is a welcome addition to the field of genre-specific books. Devin Watson, having suffered from many childhood maladies, watched countless horror movies, and this experience uniquely qualified him when he began to write and produce his own material. His film The Cursed is scheduled for release in 2010. He is the co-founder of Screenwriter’s Utopia, and also runs MoviePartners, which seeks to help independent filmmakers produce the highest quality films they can make without compromising their art.
The book is written in a fairly casual style that makes for an easy read. It also uses a rather unique approach to teaching by including three-quarters of a screenplay split up into sections throughout the book. This allows the author to comment on the story in small bites and explain what is going on and what is being served in the story at each moment. Why only three-quarters of the screenplay? At the end of each chapter, the author challenges the reader to do an exercise that is designed to illustrate what was just taught in that chapter, and to get the writer to learn by doing - the final challenge is for the writer to complete the last act of the screenplay on their own! An interesting idea, and a great way to ease the writer in the process.
The book really is a complete manual on how to write a screenplay and the lessons and concepts taught could apply to writing any genre - but there are always examples given as to how these skills apply specifically to writing a horror screenplay.
The author also offers a primer on why audiences respond to horror, what specific fears are universal and can be exploited by writers working in this genre, an overview of the types of horror films that exist, along with a brief history of horror in cinema.
So if you're thinking about writing a horror screenplay or have been writing horror but want to master the genre, do yourself a favor and pick up this one. After all, you want to be prepared - you don't want to waste your time writing substandard, cliché material in a genre you don't fully understand!
That would really be something to scream about.
StoryPros Verdict: Recommended
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