Monday, April 3, 2017

If You're Looking to Break Into Screenwriting, It's Best to "Cut to the Chase"

Hey, guys. Here’s my very first book review. If you’re interested in screenwriting at all, check this out:

Learning to be a screenwriter can be a tough process. It isn’t readily taught in schools, and people don’t talk about it as openly or often as novel writing. But there are some very helpful written resources for the would-be screenwriter. Of these, there is one that is probably the most thorough beginner’s guide to screenwriting (that even non-beginners can still learn from). That book is Cut to the Chase: Writing Feature Films with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program by Linda Venis (editor).

Something for Everyone

Cut to the Chase has a chapter for everything. If you’re just starting as a screenwriter and know nothing about the process, start on chapter one and just plow on through. If you’re looking for help on a specific aspect of screenwriting, take a glance at the table of contents, and you’ll probably see exactly what you’re looking for. Here’s a sampling:
Chapter 4: Building Characters by Cindy Davis
Chapter 6: Outlining the Screenplay by Juliet Aires Giglio
Chapter 8: The Who, What, Where, When, Why (and How!) of Writing a Scene by Dan Vining
Chapter 11: The Art and Craft of Dialogue Writing by Karl Iglesias
Chapter 15: Launching and Sustaining a Feature Film Writing Career by Deborah Dean Davis

The Pros of the Business

Each of the contributing authors in Cut to the Chase is a proven-successful screenwriter, and there’s a section in the end where you can look at their respective accomplishments and films. On top of that, each author teaches in the screenwriting program at UCLA, which is one of the most acclaimed universities in America for an education in screenwriting. These are the professionals, and they know what they’re talking about.

Technical Specifications

The product details of Cut to the Chase as listed by Amazon are:
  •   Paperback: 400 pages
  •   Publisher: Avery (August 6, 2013)
  •   Language: English
  •   ISBN-10: 1592408109
  •   ISBN-13: 978-1592408108
  •   Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  •   Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  •   Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars (32 customer reviews)
  •   Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,425 in Books, #72 in Books > Humor & Entertainment > Movies > Screenwriting, #315 in Books > Humor & Entertainment > Television, #452 in Books > Reference > Writing, Research & Publishing Guides > Writing > Writing Skills

Click here to buy the book on Amazon, available in both Kindle and Paperback versions.

Customer Reviews

Here’s a sampling of some top reviews:

“Cut to the Chase is now the ONLY book I use for my advanced feature screenwriting class at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. It’s a book for aspiring screenwriters, written by professional screenwriters. It’s the type of book that will one day be thanked at the Oscars!"
-          Keith Giglio; Professor, Syracuse University; Screenwriter and Executive Producer whose credits include Cinderella Story

“Cut to the Chase is a state-of-the-art collection of articles by some of the best (and most prolific) teachers at the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. In addition to practical information on craft, the reader also receives some pithy, entertaining and frank advice on dealing with the realities of a screenwriting career.”
-          Dennis Palumbo, author and licensed psychotherapist

“There's a lot written about writing for the movies—but not much of it comes from professionals. With Cut to the Chase, readers hear from real professionals talking about the art and craft of screenwriting and learn not only the nuts and bolts of what it takes to be a screenwriter, but also how to mold their creativity into that most challenging of forms, the screenplay.”
-          Diane Lake; Assistant Professor, Visual and Media Arts, Emerson College; screenwriter for Columbia, Disney, Miramax, and Paramount

Possible Downsides

“[The] disadvantage of a book with multiple writers is that some of the chapters are more useful than others.”
-          Lauren, Goodreads reviewer

This is the most common complaint from anyone who dislikes the book. Each chapter is written by a different contributor, which means some are your style and some aren’t, some are more structured than others, and some are more accessible. It can make it hard to glean needed information from a chapter if the style doesn’t suit you, and it can be frustrating if you know there are other chapters that do. It can also be hard to constantly switch styles and voices from chapter to chapter as you try to learn.

That being said, the dislike is minimal, and this book is still universally accepted as a valuable resource for screenwriters.

In Summary

If you’re looking to break into screenwriting, or if you have a script you’re working on but want to make better, Cut to the Chase is an invaluable resource for you.

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