skill

Screenwriting Book – Screenplay

Screenplay_Syd Field

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

 

Syd Field is one of the three big screenwriting gurus, alongside Blake Snyder and Robert McKee. And for my money, rightly so. His book, “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting” is a must-have addition to the aspiring screenwriter’s library.

Although the copy I own was published in 1982, a lot of the principles therein are still relevant. Many agents, managers and screenwriting instructors are constantly instilling the idea of characters being the most important thing about a great script. This is a great starting point for figuring out how to write a great character.

For example, this book contains several very useful charts that I’ve included below. They show how to plot your script and how to plot out your character. Also included is a list of questions that will help you develop a much more rounded character. The questionnaire method is mentioned in this great post by Carson over at Script Shadow. As a side note, this is a great article by Carson over at Scriptshadow about how to develop your character. In that article is a link to another really great questionnaire sheet that I strongly recommend. Carson has done several great articles on figuring out your characters that I’ll link to below.

The book discusses characters and plotting at length and it goes to show the importance of structure. Like any screenwriting instructor worth their salt, the methods he preaches about can be seen in a multitude of solid screenplay examples. (“Chinatown,” “Three Days of the Condor,” etc.) Since the version I have is dated so long ago, I am curious to find out what other titles the recent editions might include.

Speaking of which; there is a bit of an asterisk I would include when I recommend this book: The actual screenwriting portion. Countless books and websites will tell you how to properly format your script, as well as tell you the difference between writing a spec script and a shooting script. My blog posts will mainly be focused on writing spec scripts, so that is generally the information I will try and highlight. I bring this up because at the time this book was published, the trend was to include transitions and some camera directions in your scripts. That is not the case these days. I’ll touch on how to combat that habit in a later post.

The back flap of the book promises to address the following points:

  • Why are the first ten pages of your script so crucially important?
  • How do you collaborate successfully with someone else?
  • How do you adapt a novel, a play, or an article into a screenplay?
  • How do you market your script?

If these sound like some questions burning inside of you, rest assured, they will be answered thoroughly. If you still need to be convinced, check out the links below to see some of the charts from the book.

Like I said, this book is a terrific resource for screenwriters wanting to really get a solid grasp on their characters. Just be wary of the information, and make sure to double check anything that doesn’t make absolute sense to you.

Until next time, Movie Buffs!

Links:

Book: Amazon Link

Scriptshadow articles on creating characters:

Downloads:

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Welcome to the Blog!

Greetings Film Buffs and welcome to the blog!

This chunk of web space is dedicated to the craft of screenwriting. As you can tell, I’m a screenwriter. Sort of. I’m not a professional. Yet. All that means is that I haven’t gotten paid to write. And in my mind, rightly so. I’ve been writing since 2010 and only now am I recognizing several strategies to help improve my writing.

A big help comes from Carson Reeve over at scriptshadow. If you haven’t been to his site, do so immediately. What you’ll find is a series of reviews, article, tips and plain old common sense. What I mean by that last part is calling attention to things in movies that you wouldn’t normally notice as a storytelling device or a really good example of a character trait.

This blog serves as a means for me to kick myself into high gear as a screenwriter. To explain: a site like this requires constant attention and therefor, the act of updating it will keep my mind on the craft, and not become sidetracked, as it has in the past.

Thanks to extraneous sites, I have been able to view films in a different light and gain more knowledge from them than I normally would. It is these views and techniques I hope to share with you on a regular basis. You may also expect reviews of movies, recommendations for new films you may not have seen and so forth.

This blog is meant to document a journey from a novice writer to whatever end destination I should arrive at. I hope you’ll join me for the ride.