Book Review: Great Movies Express the Human Experience – This Book Helps You Write Them

This review of Essentials of Screenwriting was submitted by Jeff Leisawitz:

Some teachers teach because they love school and never want to leave. Others teach because they get summers off. But the best teachers in the world do it because they have an insatiable desire to master a subject and share it with anyone who’ll listen. If you’re ever fortunate enough to find yourself in the same room (or book) as one of these types, it can be a life changing experience.

Professor Richard Walter, UCLA’s Screenwriting Chairman, is one of these guys. He’s been pondering the dynamics of story and structure every day for the past several decades and doesn’t break a sweat referencing everything from Aristotle to Avatar in the same breath.

Essentials of Screenwriting covers all the big stuff in detail— theme, conflict, character, dialogue, etc. But this book goes deeper, exploring the interplay of psychology, art and commerce before defining a ‘foolproof, shockproof, waterproof, tamper resistant’ method for reaching an agent.

Throughout these pages Richard also lays out a series of Screenwriting Principles. They are short and sweet, barbed and brilliant. These sixty odd philosophies (along with the story of the clueless Kindergarten teacher) are alone worth many times the cover price of this book.

Essentials cuts to the chase with more style, wisdom and funny than all of the other screenwriting books I’ve ever read… combined. It’s a fun and informative read packed with practical knowledge about the biz along with profound insights on every conceivable subject, mistake, obstacle and/ or challenge a screenwriter is likely to face.

Professor Walter knows that movies are much more than just a way to kill a few hours on a Saturday night. Great movies express the love, pain, suffering, joy, triumph and tragedy of the human experience. That’s why we love them.

This book will help you write them.

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