The Buzz

What Experts Are Saying

“Every great film begins with a great screenplay, and Writing Movies is the ultimate resource. It’s like having twenty of the best screenwriting books skillfully rolled into one. A must have for anyone truly interested in being a successful screenwriter. If you want to be a better writer and break into the business this book and Gotham Writers’ Workshop should be the first places you start.”
—John Johnson, Executive Director of the American Screenwriters Association

“This is the kind of screenwriting book that I’ve always wanted to write. It answers all of the questions that I’m always asked and then some. The five movies this book focuses on are five of my favorites. I have each of these screenplays in my own personal library and study them constantly. They are great resources, and this book analyzes them brilliantly. And I’ve never come across a screenwriting book that examines the crucial details of how words flow on a page…until now. Writing Movies gets it all right. The people who put this book together clearly know their craft and practice it daily. I thoroughly recommend Writing Movies to all screenwriters. You must read this before you write your first or next screenplay.”
—Stuart Beattie, Screenwriter of Collateral and Pirates of the Caribbean

"Writing Movies gracefully walks a number of tricky tightropes. It's sophisticated enough for a somewhat experienced writer, but clear and open-hearted enough for a complete novice. It gives tons of practical information and advice, but never loses sight of the fact that writing screenplays—like any good writing—is ultimately an artistic endeavor of the heart, not just a paint-by-number exercise. It's easy and fun to read, but isn't afraid to pose challenging questions, to ask a writer to stretch beyond their immediate comfort zone. It manages somehow to be both practical and artistic. And that's a wonderful place for a screenwriter to start from."
—Keith Gordon, Screenwriter/Director of A Midnight Clear and The Chocolate War

"I read most of the new screenwriting books for my job teaching screenwriting and film production courses at the University of North Carolina - Wilmington. Writing Movies is the best book on screenwriting I've read in years.  I can tell a good book by the number of pages I dog-ear. There is a fold on nearly every page. Writing Movies is the most refreshing outlook on screenwriting since Syd Field."
—Terry Linehan, Professor - Film Studies Department, University of North Carolina-Wilmington

"An informative guide to all aspects of screenwriting."
—Lyn Elliot, Professor - Penn State University

“A superb book! To be a successful screenwriter Good is not Good-Enough. The first-timer must be Great and this book, with a plethora of professional writing instructors takes you step-by-step through the process of conceptualizing a marketable idea into a direct-able script that can and will be bought and produced. Straight, to-the-point, void of theory and loaded with facts this book is A Must Read!”
—Dov S-S Simens, Founder - Hollywood Film Institute and

"Writing Movies effectively covers all of a screenplay's elements... If you have been struggling with your screenplays, get this book!"
—Michael Maupin, Instructor - Elements of Screenwriting, IFP/MN

"Writing Movies takes the novice and the professional through the screenwriting process with humor and intelligence."
—Bill Neff, Professor - Media & Theatre Arts Department, Montana State University

"Writing Movies is an essential manual for learning the craft of screenwriting."
—Joe Gruberman, Education Director - IFP/Phoenix

“A fun, inspiring read from the faculty of the Gotham Writers' Workshop, Writing Movies features practical advice and insightful examples from movies as diverse as Die Hard and Sideways. Whether you're writing Hollywood blockbusters or character-driven indie fare, Writing Movies offers a refreshingly unpretentious guide through the process of writing and marketing screenplays.”
—Frederick Mensch, President and Founder - MovieBytes

"Clear advice delivered in a compelling manner. Everything you'd want from a book on screenwriting.”
—Marc Madnick, President & CEO - Final Draft, Inc.

"Have you ever seen a movie and thought, "I can write a better script?" If so, this book will give you everything you need to complete a professional screenplay. Gotham Writers' Workshop faculty and editor Steele (dean of faculty) have fashioned a comprehensive course on screenwriting that is informative as well as entertaining. They lead you through the necessary steps in creating your screenplay, from writing compelling dialog to inventing unique characters. The text is a blend of examples, exercises, and ideas that will make a difficult undertaking seem possible. Five films are used as examples: Tootsie, Die Hard, Shawshank Redemption, Thelma & Louise, and Sideways. These films are analyzed and used to illustrate the components of a screenplay, plus the proper format for submitting the finished product. Other books on writing movies, such as Lisa Dethridge's Writing Your Screenplay, are wordy without offering the amount of information found in this guide. An excellent resource for anyone considering writing a screenplay; highly recommended for most libraries"
—Rosalind Dayen - Library Journal

"Very useful for teaching film and screenwriting techniques."
—LeAnne Howe, Professor - University of Mississippi

"Straightforward and brimming with great examples from well known movies, Writing Movies is a wonderful resource of both creative and technical elements for budding and proficient screenwriters."
—Jesse Douma, President - The Writers Store

"Screenwriting is a craft that you learn by doing. While Writing Movies offers great screenwriting instruction it also allows the beginning screenwriter to start putting idea to paper right away."
—Joe Mefford, President -

"Thank you for creating this great textbook. You've liberated me from feeling that I had to write one myself! I can hardly wait to share Writing Movies with my students."
—Alexis Krasilovsky, Professor - Department of Cinema and Television Arts, California State University, Northridge

"Each of the eleven chapters of Writing Movies: The Practical Guide to Creating Stellar Screenplays is written by a different veteran screenwriter. Throughout the book, the screenwriters illustrate their points by referring to five movies (Die Hard, Sideways, The Shawshank Redemption, Thelma & Louise, andTootsie). Thus, Daniel Noah's exceptional chapter on creating plots describes why every screenplay needs a Major Dramatic Question,or MDQ, and explains the concept by pointing to Die Hard's MDQ: "Will McClane (played by Bruce Willis) free the hostages?" Thus, we know immediately that the MDQ concerns the protagonist's goal and the obstacles to reaching it.

Noah brilliantly explains the traditional three-act structure of screenwriting by meticulously exploring the dramatic structure underlying Die Hard and Sideways. This kind of "under the hood" film analysis is both fun and highly informative. Noah strongly believes in plot outlining and tells us it's much easier to experiment and fix mistakes with an outline than with the screenplay itself.

The book contains outstanding chapters on developing characters, writing great dialogue, creating subplots and crafting great scenes. Paul Zimmerman's chapter on building strong characters emphasizes the necessity of desire. Characters must have strong motivations that fuel every scene: "Desire lies at the heart of every great character." Zimmerman shows that even less-than-heroic characters, such as the self-described "loser" Miles from Sideways, can be created in such a way as to have audiences rooting for them.

One of the best chapters is Michael Eldridge's on writing dialogue. Eldridge explores both what gets said (text) and what gets expressed without words (subtext). Thus, Eldridge analyzes a critical monologue from Sideways when the "loser" Miles is telling the beautiful Maya why his favorite wine is Pinot Noir. Beneath the talk about grapes, Miles is actually telling Maya about himself and reaching out to her: "Pinot's only happy in specific little corners of the world, and it needs a lot of doting. Only the most patient and faithful and caring growers can do it, can access pinot's fragile, achingly beautiful qualities."

Finally, Amy Fox offers a concise chapter on how to revise a screenplay. Fox asks you to assume that your first draft will be bad: "You have to give yourself permission to write some pretty terrible material in your first draft." Then Fox shows you how to approach the long and difficult revision process systematically. All in all, Writing Movies is a valuable, accessible manual on all aspects of screenwriting."
—Chuck Leddy, The Writer (May 2007)

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