Issue # 3: 04/01/01
A Theory of Alternate History
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field
Reviewed by Shane P. Carr
© 2001, Beth Adele Long
want to thank Forward Motions Stage, Screen, and Literary Fiction
Moderator Robin Catesby for inspiring this issues book review. A couple
of months ago I became interested in learning the art of screenwriting. I
went to Robin for a suggestion on what material would help introduce me to
this form of writing and guide me through the techniques and styles it
encompassed. She answered without hesitation: Syd Fields Screenplay:
The Foundations of Screenwriting.
picked up the book a few days later, and after reading it -- not once, but
twice -- I wanted to let Robin know that it was just what I was looking
for, and I am now in the preliminary stages of writing a screenplay of my
own. Thanks again, Robin.
The Foundations of Screenwriting
introduces aspiring writers to the art and technique of screenwriting in
an easy-to-understand step-by-step format.
Field starts with the very foundations of the screenplay,
foundations that I have found crucial to every form of writing. The book
begins by defining what a screenplay is and then breaks the screenplay
down into its basic parts, beginning with the setup of your main
character. What follows is a step-by-step guide to bringing your lead
character into conflict and resolving that conflict through a series of
scenes and plot points.
gives readers excerpts from well-known screenplays such as Chinatown
and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Through these excerpts he
demonstrates how the screenwriter introduces the characters and builds
suspense while revealing the conflict. He then shows readers how to
resolve the conflict through various plot points and twists.
are also given a chapter on the process of adapting a novel into a
screenplay. Field explores the techniques and legal aspects of writing a
screenplay adaptation, as well as protecting your creative rights and the
creative rights of the original author.
are exercises at the end of each chapter that help reinforce what the
reader has learned. Field also cites numerous movies to use as case
studies of quality screenwriting.
three quarters through the book, readers are introduced to the actual
format in which screenplays are written. Field gives hearty and blunt
advice on what to do, and what not to do, when formatting and submitting
your screenplay. He also gives sound advice on finding an agent to
represent your work. He presents tips on checking you prospective agent's
credentials and track record in the field of screenwriting.
then abolishes the many myths of the field and gives a realistic outlook
of what it is like to work with Hollywood producers and companies.
Field gives an overview of numerous software programs specifically
tailored for screenwriters. Although some are a bit dated, most are
available in the latest Windows and Macintosh versions. Specifically noted
are various word processors as well as The Final Draft and Screenwriter+
assure you that after reading Screenplay you will have a strong
foundation for the screenwriting process and the hard work that is
involved. You will be able to decide if its a field you wish to pursue
with your writing. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in
writing a screenplay, or for anyone who just wants to know what is
involved in the screenwriting process.
The Foundations of Screenwriting
Retail Price: $13.95
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