It’s an important question. When there are at least three-humpty-zillion screenwriting books on Amazon as we speak, why inflict another screenwriting book on the suffering screenwriters of the world?
One reason, of course, was that John Murray Learning had asked me. And John Murray are part of Hachette one of the largest publishing houses in the universe
I’d like to share the discussion I had with myself. In the event, I came up with four key areas.
1. Hollywood or not?
But the results can also be bland. And there are other styles. I wanted to makes sure that while showing how the mainstream style works, I would also draw on other styles, from indie to British, European, Asian and other cultures around the world. I wanted to ensure writers could develop their own individual voice.
Such as dealing with obstacles. The great screenwriters use obstacles with enormous guile and sophistication. I wanted to include techniques and exercises I’d developed over the years, such as The Obstacle Chain, to help writers develop essential skills for themselves.
This meant I needed troubleshooting sections, to enable a writer to get a firm idea of any likely problems and what to do about them. Do I have a slow first act or not? Does my second act sag? And what can be done?
4. Breaking the rules
This is an area I’ve taught and written about for many years and I wanted to make sure that writers were helped if they wanted to create something that didn’t stick slavishly to the norm.
Tell me what you think
These were my aims. I hope I’ve succeeded. The feedback so far is good, and the book is already recommended reading on at least one MA course.
However, do you agree with these four issues or do you think there are other areas that should be tackled? Leave your comments and questions. If I have an answer, I’ll give it here - and there’s always the second edition…
Charles Harris' new book, Teach Yourself: Complete Screenwriting Course is out now, published by John Murray Learning - full details here