THE SCREENWRITER’S ROADMAP: 21 Ways to Jumpstart Your Story,
Reviewed by Ia Uaro of Bookpleasures.com
Author: Neil Landau
Publisher: Focal Press
ISBN: 978-0-240-82060-6 (pbk): ISBN: 978-0-240-82063-7 (ebk)
THE SCREENWITER’S ROADMAP aims to minimize floundering, stumbling and flailing by new screenwriters. Each chapter systematically guides screenwriting students on a specific topic, and continues with a relevant interview of this topic’s expert to help readers envision the scope. An assignment is given to allow readers explore the viability of the suggested ideas.
An experienced professor in screenwriting with many successful screenplays to his name, Neil Landau states on the outset that there is no absolute formula when it comes to writing a successful screenplay. This is illustrated by the differing responses of the successful screenwriters he interviews. Landau’s questions are incisive and straightforward, yet at times he receives lengthy roundabout replies.
Simplistic readers may object to the full quotes in several interviews and wonder why they have not been simplified. The truth, I conclude, is that simplistic people have no business screenwriting. There are various aspects and layers you need to look into and must never neglect or belittle. Brilliance, I see, is a prerequisite. And brilliant students will have no problems discerning these experts’ answers, which, in the first place, are there not because Mr. Landau is not in a position to edit direct quotes, but because they are necessary. I found them not only helpful, but enjoyable, in fact. You get to look into various heads and learn how the fascinating minds work, while at the same time see these admirable individuals for the persons they are. For me, this is a delightful bonus. Here is one example,
“I gather and gather and gather and gather and just build all kinds of ridiculous piles of paper and speeches and extraneous things that will never make the movie. And, just build and build and build until it just gets to some blister point where it can’t go on any longer. All that indulgence. You have to hang on to some things as your career goes on. You have to hang on to indulgence and whatever passes for childlike wonder and innocence and confidence. But, the one thing you must get is that there has to be an extremely brutal part of yourself which is just unforgiving. So, at a certain point, you turn into the evil proctor of the story, and whatever doesn’t want to be there, just disappears. To me, the real mark of an amateur is when you give someone a note on something to have them say, “Do you know how long I worked on that?” And, you want to just go, “Really?” Because I’ve thrown away years of work. In fact, it should actually get to the point where it feels incredibly cleansing and uplifting to throw things away. I’m never happier than when I’m cutting stuff out when I find stuff I don’t need. Better than getting it, was throwing it away.”
The human aspects, intriguing insights, and tips from real-life experiences are parts that no reader will ever find when they google Screenwriting 101. THE SCREENWRITER’S ROADMAP is unique and is so much more than your usual lessons in writing techniques, which, here, are easy to follow and clearly outlined in details.
Will following the book’s 21 chapters jumpstart new screenwriters to the expert level? Not overnight because that requires practice. However, the mapped road is certain to take them there along the straight path.
“She better be,” my daughter piped in.
Ha! This is only the beginning of a new chapter… I don’t have the heart to tell them that, but I do plan to spend more time with my family. Apparently a female writer has to be a super mum, and I do miss my family. Tomorrow we are going to the Blue Mountains. We will do some trekking. And of course it’s September, spring in Aussieland, so I’ll be taking pics in Leura too… even when my daughter has said she’ll scream if I take another one.
I will update this entry later. For now I would like to thank anyone and everyone who has been with me from the start in every way.
I’ve been tagged to answer ten questions about my current current WIP (Work In Progress) by these two lovely lady writers:
Ui Poznansky of http://uviart.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/the-next-big-thing.html
And Susan Taitel – ABNA’s semi-finalist of the hilarious “Random Act of Nudity”, an upcoming YA –not and an adult novel, of http://susantaitel.com/week-14-the-next-big-thing-blog-hop/
First visit their marvelous blogs, and then read the following. Thank you.
Currently I have three WIS – Works In Suspension. My WIP, the one I’m still working on is the soon-to-be-released SYDNEY’S SONG. It is still my WIP, as I’m currently occupied in learning about post-release steps. Following are my answers to the Ten Interview Questions in this blog-hopping, The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Life experiences. My life has always been very, very eventful—either things happen or I go out to make things happen. I shuffle these true experiences like a deck of cards. I arrange the cards like a beautiful fan. I glue them together with fiction.
For example, on the day I decided to write, an old uni friend posted an ancient pic on Facebook. It was of our group singing by a lake, together with an Australian friend from Beecroft. She had come all the way across the ocean to be with me, so distraught by her parents’ recent divorce. When I was busy during the day, I left her with my music-playing friends. They looked after her very well and she ended up having a wonderful holiday.
What genre does your book fall under?
Real-life socio fiction. Fiction/Humorous. Self-help/motivational.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Mia Wasikowska for Sydney:
Before her parents’ divorce: http://img1.bdbphotos.com/images/orig/w/b/wbzs4i8g6g7pzb47.jpg
Alone in a foreign land:
I can’t quite find an actor to play Pete yet, but Andrew Garfield can play Ettore:
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Grounded firmly in suburban settings where heartbreaks are juxtaposed with humour, a beautiful love story amid tragedies showcasing a young girl’s courageous journey to adulthood.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I met a critic who liked my work, and soon after a retired über agent praised it but advised that traditional publishers only take mainstream work. This made me look into indie publishing.
Today’s self-publishing authors have full control on the final product. A friend celebrates the freedom of unrestricted word count in her epic fantasy. Another finds delights in mixing his poetry and prose. And I appreciate the freedom to illustrate my work my way. The result isn’t just a beautiful story, but a beautiful-looking beautiful story. The rare, unique hardcopy will delight readers who are lovers of arts.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Three delightful months.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
None from the recent books. SYDNEY’S SONG is complex without being complicated. A vivid portrayal of the people of Sydney, this is similar to the ancient Pepys Diary; however, its subtle depiction of modern workplace slavery is close to Max Havelaar. The book contains true stories of love and survival.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The first half, friends I used to work with, once upon a time. The second half, hubby.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Tragically humorous, SYDNEY’S SONG will entertain readers of any genre who occasionally want something different in their bookshelves.
Now hop over to the following blogs and meet these fantastic talents:
Hattie Gunter of http://thevoveva.blogspot.ca/
Hart Johnson of http://www.waterytart23.blogspot.com.au/
Ey Wade of http://wade-inpublishing.blogspot.com.au/
(Awaiting confirmation from a few more bloggers)