Reviews of Writing Books

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Screenwriting by Skip Press

Alpha Books, November 2000.
Hardcover, 365 pages.
ISBN: 0028639448
Ordering information:

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Screenwriting
by Skip Press Skip Press, a professional screenwriter, author, and writing teacher, does a wonderful job of sharing his extensive knowledge of screenwriting and the movie business in this practical and thorough resource. Skip begins the instruction with a look at the evolution of storytelling, an informative look at how storytelling has developed from the time of the Greek playwrights to movies to the digital age. The second section, "What to Write," provides instruction about finding movie ideas and setting up a screenwriting schedule. The third section, "How to Write Your Screenplay," provides writing advice and instruction on such subjets as outlines, reordering scenes, the importance of your first ten pages, screenplay design and structure, writing feature films and rewrites. The fourth section covers screenplay readings, improving screenplays, writing for television, short films and digital films. The final section covers the industry itself, including chapters on amateur mistakes, screenwriting gurus, mentors, selling scripts and screenwriting careers.

Helpful tips (called Skip's Tips) are provided in every section next to a small icon of Skip. Other tips and suggestions, including definitions of Hollywood terms, warnings of potential pitfalls and inside Hollywood information are also provided. Skip really knows his stuff, and his insight into how Hollywood works is invaluable. Numerous examples and anecdotes about well-known screenwriters, directors and stars help writers get a better understanding of how Hollywood operates. He also provides some great inside scoop about the deals behind the big movies. If you are interested in screenwriting and are looking for a guide that will provide you with information about the business, advice, ideas for writing screenplays and get you started in the right direction, then this reference will give you a solid foundation from which to base a screenwriting career. For novice screenwriters who don't know how to begin or what to do this book is absolutely essential. Highly recommended.

Fiction Writer's Brainstormer by James V. Smith, Jr.

Writer's Digest Books, October 2000.
Hardcover, 292 pages.
ISBN: 0898799430
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Fiction Writer's Brainstormer
by James V. Smith, Jr. This unusual, but effective reference and tool for fiction writers helps with the creativity side of writing -- the creation of story ideas, plot lines, characters, scenes, words and other aspects of fiction. The book provides a variety of tools, tests, puzzles, creativity exercises and tricks for improving fiction writing. The book is also a goldmine of facts, charts and graphs conveying a variety of information related to books and writing. Examples include graphs that show the percent of passive voice used by bestselling authors and the average reading level of novels by major author. A section covering the habits of highly successful writers is also very informative. Some of the habits detailed include using continuous speech recognition software to dictate fiction, knowing when you have to right stuff for a big book, ignoring writer's block and writing stunning dialogue.

Fiction writers trying to develop plots, scenes and characters will benefit from the Fiction Writer's Brainstormer which forces writers to be creative, and offers lots of different ways to get the creative juices flowing. The book is also helpful for breaking writer's block and jumpstarting your writing. A well-imagined problem solver and reference for fiction writers.

Guerrilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, Michael Larsen

Writer's Digest Books, October 2000.
Hardcover, 288 pages.
ISBN: 089879983X
Ordering information:

Guerrilla Marketing for Writers
by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, Michael Larsen Most writers are usually very reluctant to attempt the marketing and self-promotional tactics necessary to get them a successful career in writing. Often this reluctance or "fear of marketing" is because they do not understand marketing and promotion and they are not aware of the many benefits and all the different types of promotional opportunities that are available at their disposable. Guerrilla Marketing for Writers calls these promotional opportunities "weapons" and provides hundreds of suggestions and tips for writers to market their books and themselves. Marketing topics (weapons) covered in the book include: using the Internet, interviews, networking, talks, press kits, websites, email marketing tools, excerpts, reading groups, book signings, book festivals, book covers, thank-you notes, bookmarks, press releases, satellite tours, book reviews and many others. The book also includes valuable suggestions for using the writing skills a writer already has to find additional paying venues and for creating copy and promotional material themselves to promote existing work. An appendix in the book includes a directory of marketing-related resources, lists of marketing weapons in order of importance, information about how to find a publicist and a sample media kit.

The tone of the book is encouraging and positive. The book introduces the reader to the marketing possibilites of new technologies, with excellent coverage of the endless possibilities available to writers for marketing with the Internet, computers and other technologies. The book also helps writers with smaller budgets by listing and explaining the costs associated with various promotional efforts. Guerrilla Marketing for Writers is a thorough and practical guide for the writer who wants to ensure every chance possible for commercial success.

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