Saturday, September 10, 2005

Book Review: Making A Good Script Great

Making A Good Script Great
As I struggle away on my current movie script I find myself looking through, or in this case completely reading, “how to” movie script books.

I will say this book by Linda Seger certainly has packed a lot of information in ‘Making A Good Script Great’ in not so many pages, and most of it is quite helpful. I read it through in three days and haven’t really had the time to digest all the information yet (I plan on re-reading sections again), but Linda really does seem to know what she is talking about.

The book is broken down into three sections. The first deals with story structure, how to make sure your script has structure and what to look for and repair if it doesn’t. Though not a formula, the three act script is universally acceptable and dates back as far as Greek plays and probably even oral traditions before that. She covers it pretty well, but I got more information on script structure from “The Screenwriter’s Bible” by Trottier.

The second section is ‘idea development’ and to me seemed sort of vague. But then again nobody can tell you how to come up with mythology or themes. Linda does a good job though telling you how to search through your script and find those elements and expand on them.

The third part is where I find this book really shines. It is about character development and I must say it is extremely well done. It covers motivation, conflict and character types in much detail. If you buy this book for only this one section it will worth your coin. Very well done and something I am going to follow for sure.

There is a fourth section dealing with the development of the script for ‘Witness’ and it is a good look behind the scenes of an award winning script and what it took to bring it to the box office. Not sure if I find it encouraging or depressing - but I did find it interesting.

In short, this is a “Great” addition to any script writers collection, even if you only use it for the character section. I did get one good belly laugh out of the introduction though and will (without permission - I will burn in that “special” level of hell) reprint it here.

From the introduction to “Making A Good Script Great” - “After submitting his script to a producer who turned him down, he protested, ‘but it’s much better than anything else I’ve seen!’ ‘Of course,’ said the producer. ‘Anyone can write better than that. The trick is to write so brilliantly that after everyone ruins it in rewrites, it’s still watchable.’

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