Monday, September 08, 2014

THE ART OF SCREENPLAYS - A WRITER'S GUIDE by Robin Mukherjee

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

Not another 'how to' screenwriting book I thought, when it was sent to me to review. But Robin's approach isn't 'just' another writers' template to follow, but rather an insightful guide that prompts readers to think for themselves.

A CLOSER LOOK:

Surprisingly Robin doesn't begin by writing about structure but takes things back to that little spark that fires the imagination. After all the 'idea' is just as important as how you write it and it is often overlooked in other guides.

'Stuff' - as Robin calls it - is to writers as wood is to carpenters. Robin explores how to gather, ferment and communicate story, with 'stuff' providing the building material. But what is 'stuff'? Stuff can be anything from a snippet of conversation to how someone acts, those small observations of real life that ignite ideas.

Robin illustrates his idea of 'stuff' by relating the tale of how an incident in a pub, when he was a writer/director/producer working in theatre, informed a scene in an episode of Eastenders he wrote years later.

Robin does cover the usual stuff - structure, character and dialogue - but even here he restrains from suggesting ridged rules, instead preferring to explore ideas and encourage readers to think for themselves.

The book does feel a little academic in places - not surprising as Robin has taught screenwriting in the past - and I found myself going back over a few sections just to make sure I was correctly inturpreting Robin's message. I did come away assessing anew how I create and tell my stories and with a strong sense I had learned a great deal from Robin's ideas and suggestions.

Robin, like a few other authors, also sets tasks, encouraging readers to explore and evaluate their own ideas, as well as providing plenty of examples of his own to illustrate his points.

SUMMING UP:

A great book for beginners, with plenty of ideas to inform even those more experienced writers. A little academic in places, it can take a few attempts to fully absorb Robin's message, but none the less it's a useful volume to have in your collection.

2 comments:

Paul Bryers said...

This is possibly the best book I've read on writing generally - not just screenwriting. I think partly because it gives you an insight into how the writer thinks - and how that thought process becomes leads to the building blocks of what you write. I found it a very useful guide not just for teaching creative writing but for my own writing - I found I was using like a check list to make sure I wasn't wandering off track.

Dominic Carver said...

Thanks, Paul. Always good to get other people's opinions too.