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Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless Paperback – 15 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (15 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571274374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571274376
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 697,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Impressively readable, unpretentious, and remarkably useful. Based on a lifetime of experience and observation, as well as conversations with some of the greats (like Orson Welles, John Ford and Howard Hawks), Joe McBride's comprehensive yet very succinct work should become a standard text.' --Peter Bogdanovich, screenwriter, director, film historian.

'I must confess that I had never read a how-to book straight through for the sheer pleasure of it, and I never expected to - until I got my hands on the splendid 'Writing in Pictures'. ... A word of warning: in this book you will not find the Six Keys to Compelling Characters, the Seven Secrets of Successful Plotting, or the Eight Jungian Archetypes No Studio Executive Can Resist. There are no magic formulae here - but if you do have a story to tell, this book will give you the solid practical advice you need to tell it in the most effective way. 'Writing in Pictures' is a short course in how to think cinematically. It will change the way you write. It will change the way you watch.' --Sam Hamm, screenwriter of 'Batman', 'Batman Returns', and 'Homecoming'.

'If this isn't the greatest screenwriting book ever, I'll eat my hat! 'Writing in Pictures' is the kind of how-to book Ben Hecht would have written on that subject: a Socratic tour of the profession the novice aspires to, filled with screenwriting lore, for illustration and entertainment. If you want to judge someone's work by how personal it is, this may just turn out to be Joe McBride's masterpiece.' --Bill Krohn, author of 'Hitchcock at Work' and Hollywood correspondent, 'Cahiers du Cinema'.

Book Description

Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless, by Joseph McBride, is an essential guide to screenwriting by the leading film historian and biographer.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark on 21 Nov. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the best books I've read on the subject.

Very good practical advice, with good exercises to get you started.

Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Perfect for the novelist 24 Mar. 2012
By Anna Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a novelist, I found this book to be more of a bible than just a tool. I can now work with screenwriters in a way that shows I understand what they are talking about. I may never try my hand at adapting my own books, but it sure is nice to collaborate on a more even playing field. The simple lesons in the book take the mystery out of the adaptation process, and my own writing will surely benefit as I think about my future stories in more of a film-friendly way.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Write a Screenplay 21 April 2012
By Patrice Fagnant-macarthur - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless" by Joseph McBride is a new book that walks writers through the process of composing a screenplay. McBride, who has spent decades as a screenwriter and screenwriting teacher, uses the knowledge he has gathered to offer a step-by-step guide to adapting a short story into short movie. He uses the story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London as his example and teaching tool. He provides the full text of the story, which is a man vs. nature tale in which nature wins. The story has very little in the way of dialogue, and therefore proves to be an excellent exercise in "thinking visually."

McBride takes readers through the entire process, from the story outline, the adaptation outline, the character biography, the treatment, the step outline, and finally, the script itself. He also offers tips on how to break into professional filmmaking. There is a great deal of useful information packed into this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A breathe of fresh air 13 Nov. 2012
By Summer N. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless" by Joseph McBride is a new book written by a produced screenwriter and screenwriting instructor.
While I enjoyed reading this book, and agree with the statement that there are very few, if any books that teach you to writer professional screenplay, I don't think this is a book for beginners, unless you've read scripts before.
As someone interested in the process of adaptation, I found this book extremely helpful. Any novelist looking to adapt their work would do well to read this book.
With great software available these days, formatting is done for you, so knowing how to tell a story is where a writer should be concentrating. That's what this book teaches, how to tell a good story.
McBride uses Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire" as his teaching tool. Taking the reader through the extensive (and VERY necessary) process of "breaking the spine" of the story, character bios, treatments and outlining, he prepares the writer for the process before typing FADE IN.
I loved the movie references throughout the book, and now have a long list of must see movies. It's obvious McBride loves film, and his extensive history as a critic gives the reader much food for thought.
The screenwriting section is followed by information on how to "break in" to the Hollywood dream.
I really enjoyed the way this book was written, as if McBride was sitting across from me, doling out nuggets of information.
As a produced screenwriter who has read many books on the subject, and the co-founder of Script Chat, I can tell you, this book was a breath of fresh air.
(Disclaimer - this book was given to me by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Write What Comes from the Heart (p. 62) 8 Aug. 2013
By Gloria Ng - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I love that this author has provided the step-by-step guidelines to creating a professional screenplay. After reading this book, I was pretty clear that this was not the craft for me. If you buy just one screenwriting book ever, especially if you are a beginner, this is your book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent book to add to your screenwriting collection. 17 May 2013
By Jennifer F - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book interesting and helpful in screenwriting description. This is not a "format" or technical book (there are other books meant for that). Joseph McBride helps guide you through getting your story to "show" instead of "tell."
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