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Three books on screenwriting

By Greg Pak
Three books I’ve found enormously helpful over the years:
“Four Screenplays,” by Syd Field
Field is best known for his ubiquitous book “Screenplay,” but I found “Four Screenplays” more helpful. The book provides in-depth structural analysis of the screenplays of four successful movies: “Thelma and Louise,” “Terminator 2,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” and “Dances with Wolves.” Practical and extremely helpful.
“The Art of Dramatic Writing,” by Lajos Egri
One of the classics. Egri’s writing about all dramatic writing – meaning many of his examples are drawn from theater. But it’s all applicable to screenwriting. Most helpful is his exploration of “premise.”
“Story,” by Robert McKee
McKee can come off as a bit of a blowhard in print (and apparently in person, if the depiction of him in “Adaptation” is to be trusted), but I thought just about everything in his book was right on the money.

3 Comments

  • 1
    2003/11/19 - 12:22 am | Permalink

    Hi Greg, we’ve just met tonight. What do you think about this book “500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader?” Good luck with your tour.

  • 2
    2003/11/19 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Hey, Richard. Thanks for coming to the screening! (Mike was at the “Robot Stories” screening at Stony Brook last night).
    I haven’t read the book you mention. Sounds interesting… Although it also sounds like a book geared toward business insider tips, which can be very helpful, but might be the last book you check out — I’d recommend starting with the hardcore books on storytelling mentioned above.
    All the best!

  • 3
    2004/04/28 - 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi Greg
    I’v read Syd Fields” Four Screenplays” & found it extremely helpful. I keep it with me always!
    I ‘v also gone thru ‘Story’ once & I thought it is one of the best books ever written on Screenwriting, story & screenplay and especially the way he deals with characters & characterizations is unique.
    It’s so refreshing everytime I read any article written by u. I’m a filmmaker based in Mumbai. Though I’v been makin documentaries & some of them have even won awards I’m trying to break into feature films with some scripts ready with me. Any advices on that front?
    What’s the latest project u’v been workin on?
    Thanks
    Bye
    sanjay

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