Screenwriting Secrets by John Scott Lewinski

Screenwriting Secrets » Selling Scripts To Hollywood

Many screenwriting titles on the market indulge in a lot of pretentious, high-minded artistic theory to teach aspiring script writers on the finer points of translating grand ideas into complete, finished images. Unfortunately, too few offer the vitally practical, and often surprisingly simple tips that can really help an outsider gain access to Hollywood's rigid and unforgiving ranks.

"Selling Scripts to Hollywood," by Katherine Atwell Herbert, does a good job of dispensing just this sort of basic, to-the-point advice for the benefit of the movie writer wannabe. While her insights might be old hat to more experienced screenwriters, those first considering a move into film or television writing would do themselves a service by picking up this Allworth Press publication.

Atwell Herbert worked as a script analysis for such companies as the DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group, Fox Broadcasting and Lightstorm. An experienced TV writer, she penned episodes for "Trial by Jury," "Murder She Wrote" and "Quantum Leap." Author of "Writing Scripts Hollywood Will Love," she also lectures at writer's conferences and teaches courses to aspiring writers.

The book handles all aspects of screenwriting from the simplest formatting requirements, such as cover page arrangements and the differences between feature and sitcom layouts, to the more complex examination of pitching and marketing. Other chapters include insights on alternative markets (such as industrial films or advertising), revisions, representation, options and purchases. While the author could never include every possible detail or possibility in her examinations, she does a good job of hitting all the essentials.

Finally, Atwell Herbert deserves credit for going beyond the call of merely educating writers by actually encouraging them. In the book's closing chapter, the author offers writers advice on what to do and, more importantly, what attitude to take when success does not immediately follow their efforts. Beginner writers may not fully comprehend the difficulty of what they're wandering into, so they need this kind of urging, whether they realize it or not. She writes:

"If your attempts to get an agent or production company to look at your material meet with no success, then consider yourself one of the family. It happens to thousands of writers. It proves nothing about your writing…Being turned down can signal a dozen different things. It can mean that the agency doesn't represent the kind of work you sent them. It can mean the agency has no good contacts with the television show you wrote a spec episode for…This is a very competitive business."

That may seem like obvious advice if you've been around the block once or twice in this business. But, for the novices reaching for this book, that's a lesson they'd best learn right away. Atwell Herbert realized that and offered a little protection.

"Selling Scripts to Hollywood" is recommended for those writers just thinking about getting into the business of making stories for the film and television industries. While its basic overview style will seem old-hat to more experienced writers, its well-researched and conclusive content offers beginners an excellent introduction to the life and battles of a working screenwriter.

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