Gardner's Guide to Screenplay: From Idea to Successful Script (Gardner's Guide series)

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Press:Independent Pub Group Garth Gardner Company (February 1, 2007)
Author Name:Selbo, Jule


Practical and inspiring for both beginning and experienced screenwriters, this guide shows how to structure a film story by focusing on character development. 
Featuring the "Eleven Step Story Structure," a template that takes the haphazardness out of the process of writing, the book reasons that a strict outline can be turned into a strong script with room for creative and original ideas.
Many examples, exercises, and story breakdowns of major motion pictures are provided to spark creativity, as well as advice on necessary selling information to get the script into the right hands.


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Comment List (Total:7)

  •     Screenwriting is a very difficult task. One must master the difference between story and plot. This book, by an experienced screenwriter, and teacher, simplifies the task of constructing a tale. There's nothing really new in this book that can't be found it the other screenwriting books. But it's presented in an easier-to-understand format, it's simplified.Any writer will benefit from Selbo's breakdown of past movies, as her analysis explains what makes or fails to make a character-driven story. I found her chapters on subplots and runners; beats, scenes, and sequences, exposition; and dialogue to be helpful. Other writers cover these subjects, but she explains these concepts and gives good examples to illustrate them in practice.At first glance or scan, this may appear to be just another screenwriting book, but it's not. It's the best roadmap available for planning out a great script.
  •     There are a lot of screenwriting manuals out there but there are few that have the detail, the specfic strategies for success and the perspective of a long time pro as does this...
  •     This how-to manual is one of the more recent additions to the growing number of books marketed towards the wannabe screenwriter. Following the lead of Field, McKee and Truby, this author pitches the "11-Step Story Structure" as its magical formula; but there's nothing new here beyond a re-packaging of what you've already read. However, if you've never read a thing on screenwriting before, this one wont hurt you. It's easy to read because the 300+ pages contain 250 pages of examples, but only 50 pages of true content.My suggestion: Use your library. Read Aristotle's Poetics. But dont spend a small fortune accumulating these titles like I once did. I wound up dumping all but a select few on eBay. I only know of this one because I was forced into buying it as the required text for a course.Also, this book contains an incredible number of spelling errors and typos. It seems as though it was poorly proofread (or not at all) and rushed to market.Example: Erin Brockovich turns into Erin "Brokavich" in the same sentence.The index is carelessly devised as well.Example: If you look up the movie "Network" in the index, you'll find some page numbers for the film -- but you'll also find some page numbers for networking mixed in -- with no way to distinguish between the two. Sloppy.In considering that this is a book on writing, these problems will not instill confidence in the reader. It made me feel that the author was less than serious in writing a thorough and comprehensive text, and more interested in rushing some product to the wannabe-screenwriter market.
  •     Jule Selbo has fashioned a comprehensive toolbox for creating a screenplay; a blueprint for success if you will.
  •     Very clear and easy reading, this book covers a lot more than just the basics of Screenwriting (3 Act structure, Characters...
  •     I love a great character. This author apparently does too. Jule Selbo employs an 11 step structure that applies to character development. An interesting thing is that this same 11 step structure also instills plot in an intuitive way. Selbo uses a number of great movies like Tootsie, Kraemer Vs. Kraemer, Godfather and many others to analyze character development and growth.This book clearly and simply tells the writer how to write their screenplay. In fact, any writer whether they write screenplays or novels can benefit from the 11 steps that Selbo takes to uncover character.There are certainly other character books but this one is more comprehensive in that character is story.One of the great things about this book is the question and answer dialogue boxes on some of the pages that ask very pertinent questions. Selbo covers everything, query letters, jobs in the business, exercises to try out your skills.I've read many books on screenwriting and feel that this one is very complete and fun to read.
  •     Strap in, it's a long one--I bought Selbo's book as required reading for a screenwriting class I'm about to take and ended up reading through it all before class has even begun. As someone who loves writing, I have tons of trouble reading so that says something to me. The book kept me mostly interested, but not totally enthused.I'll start with the Pro's: The book provides basic information regarding three act structure (the expected yet malleable page numbering, midpoint, all that stuff) that any beginning screenwriter can appreciate. For a while after this, the useful information stalls for a while until the proper formatting for Loglines and Treatments are given. As someone unfamiliar with industry standards on these things, I personally found these tidbits to be the most useful. Like after dragging, the book has a rebound at the end that goes over the WGA, agents, managers, and attorneys for a chapter that had me lingering on every word. Other than that, there were occasional genuinely good ideas and advice scattered throughout that I found I agreed with. But these were scarce.Which gives me a killer segue to the Con's: Some may jump onboard with the "must do" storytelling methods but a lot of writers wanting something different or having seen plenty of classics will question it, particularly the major selling point of the "Eleven Step Story Structure." Anyone who's read it probably already knows what I'm talking about. The notion that every movie does and MUST be driven by one character wanting something is pretty shaky. Sure, many do, as provided in the book's many examples (more on that later), but the book continuously sells that you need to follow the structure to have a successful and emotionally satisfying screenplay.And what about classics that don't follow it? I couldn't think of how it could be applied to Goodfellas without it being shoehorned (Henry is "denied" what he wants from... his dad hitting him? And has conflicts about a major second opportunity when... the mob beats up the mailman for him?). Or The Shawshank Redemption (a screenplay repeatedly used in examples)--Andy's first logical steps toward his want (getting out of Shawshank) work out the first time around, it just takes the whole movie, so not to sound dickish here, but what gives?In the back of the book lay a bunch of examples of the movies (which are helpful, but there's already a crazy amount of examples. Examples make up like a good 40% of the book throughout already.) referenced with having the Eleven Step Story Structure applied and I looked for Shawshank to find out if I was missing something and it was nowhere to be found. Toy Story was though, and the Structure was so shoehorned for the most part you can't help but chuckle and go, "Wait, what?" (not to mention some events were out of order and applied in the wrong steps- Buzz seeing the commercial of himself actually comes at "All Falls Apart," not the Climax as stated in the book...)Then for this whole thing about focusing on one character and no one else, it doesn't even mention ensembles or buddy movies until one sentence toward the end stating that there are some movies like that, "but usually one character will still take dominance." And when they don't?Selbo is also very, very repetitive. I understand you have to hammer some points home, but it feels like a little over halfway through she couldn't figure out how to fill in some of the blanks so she just kept repeating one idea, it's like- "Never make things easy for your character," "Add obstacles," "Make sure the journey is hard on the character," "Add more obstacles," "An easy journey isn't satisfying, add more obstacles," "Got some obstacles there? You do? Well here, have some more." Good advice for sure, but it just gets to be really grating after a while. This falls into the category of lots of "duh" details, which I've encountered in Film classes as well, where you're taught over and over about basic things the half-observant movie watcher picks up like, "The main character and his world should be introduced in the first act." But if one doesn't have that experience, then it should be very helpful I suppose.Now for two final critiques that were nitpicks at first but became legitimate concerns after continuously seeing them, especially toward the end. Typos. There were heaps of them. As another reviewer here mentioned, "Brockovich" becomes "Brokavich" in the same sentence. Other than that are mostly keyboard errors ("pf" instead of "of," one quote ends with' ",," , and throughout there's just missing letters and words completely). Just seemed careless for a writer. The second critique is the movie information errors (lots of character names wrong- Rafiki becomes Zazu, Buzz Lightyear is now "Bud" Lightyear, Lord Farquaad becomes Lord F (dunno if she forgot his name or didn't want to reference the dirty joke), some movie events didn't happen in the order she seems to remember). I just don't feel comfortable learning from someone that's supposed to watch and read with an analytical eye, and misses these basic details.There are some other gripes, but this review's already too long. In short, if you have little to no experience writing or analyzing movie structure, then Selbo's book is probably a decent starting point. But even though I haven't read any other screenwriting books, I have to imagine there are better ones. Despite the truly good advice and points (subplots should usually tie to the A story, the story should be driven by character), I have a hard time recommending it. If this book's an indication of what my Screenwriting class will be like or is held as the screenwriting bible there, I'm no longer too psyched about it.

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