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4.2 out of 5 stars26
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on 19 February 2008
The main thing to say about this book is that it's repetitive. Really, really repetitive. Phenomenally repetitive. You think the start of this review is repetitive? No, my friend. Compared to the book, my review is not remotely repetitive.

Sentences are repeated. Quotes are repeated. Advice is repeated ad infinitum. The book has 308 pages without the index. I reckon you could boil that down to less than half the size if you just took out all the bits that are said more than once. You may find this hard to believe but there are things in here that are repeated more than four times.

So why do I still give it four stars?

Well, I think the repetition works. OK, it goes a little too far on that point. And there will be some readers (though none who can argue I haven't done my utmost to warn them) who get really worn down by the repetition. But for me, since this is only my second screenwriting book and I haven't been to any classes, I have probably benefited from the repetition.

It really hammers its points home. If you don't remember the main points after being told again and again and again, then when will you learn them?

So this book is like being taught by a teacher who doesn't trust you to remember the key points. He hits you over the head with them. Then again. Then again. And then one more time, just to be sure.

In my case, it's probably a good thing that he does. For other people, though, it may be much too much.
0Comment37 of 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 August 2007
This is a good book for beginners. As with McKee's "Story", it belongs on your shelf if you want to start screenwriting. It's easy to read, logical and full of useful tools for the aspiring screenwriter. However, the books simply scratches the surface. Its rigid "formula" approach to screenwriting means that adhering too closely to it may hinder creativity and produce more of the many flat, mediocre Hollywood films that are cluttering our screens recently. I would read this book, absorb the basics from it, then read and write a whole lot more. On the whole, though, this is a good beginners guide.
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on 31 March 2006
Anyone interested in the art of screenwriting should read this book, preferrably before they start a script. I started mine beforehand and now I wish I'd had this first.
Every aspect of your writing and your attitude towards what you will get out of writing will be improved with reading this book. Everything from structure (the famous paradigm) and your expectations of how to seel your script are covered.
This book is so effortlessly written (at least it seems so) that reading it is very easy and you may well finish it in a few sittings.
This guy is a master in his field and you can get a lot of expertise from him for a very small sum of money. BUY IT!!
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on 8 July 2009
As a professional script editor I can say that the basic story structure principles do help to deliver more satisfying scripts. It covers the basic screenwriting story stucture that underpins the vast majority of successful screenplays. That said, it's useful to read it then put it away and let your instincts and creativity take over. If your script or story isn't working then this is a great reference guide for checking what might be going wrong. Useful to have read but beware of trying to create something original simply by following these guidelines or you might end up with something dull and formulaic.
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on 4 July 2013
This is perhaps my favourite book on screen writing. Why? Because it's so fluently written that it's enjoyable for its enthusiasm, clarity and fluency. It is not a listings formula, being written in solid chapters, but the information it provides is excellent. I prefer it to the slick 'Save the Cat' series, which is okay in its way, but perhaps a bit TOO formulaic. Sid field was the first in the field and in my opinion the best, the most readable and the most clear. Recommended.
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on 17 December 2010
If you're thinking about writing your first screenplay, make sure you begin by buying this book. It introduces you to the basics of screenwriting, so that when people speak to you about "Inciting Incidents", "Subplots", "Character Arcs", etc. you actually know what they're talking about.
Screenwriting is very complex and has many layers, so there isn't a "The One Book" which will have 'everything you need'. However, there are books that give you 'everything you need to start'. This is one of them.
It's a helpful tool for producers and directors that don't require becoming expert screenwriters, but that need to be able to communicate with their own scriptwriters and understand script structures.
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on 30 October 2010
A good basic guide. Nothing amazing here and it can get a bit boring.
He gets a lot of criticism because he has so few writing credits and yet claims to be an expert.
I found it to be useful but sometimes he contradicted himself and often the advice was too prescriptive.
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on 10 May 2014
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting is an excellent book from screenwriting guru Syd Field who wrote several books on the subject of screenwriting. He also conducted workshops and seminars on the subject of producing salable screenplays. Hollywood film producers have increasingly used his ideas on structure as a guideline to a proposed screenplay's potential.

Although this book gives tips on writing scripts for films, I believe it also serves as a good book for people wanting to write scripts for television as well as for film. An example of tips given in this book includes writing cue cards for his paradigm "Three act structure" (Act I, Act II and Act III) and how many cue cards to write for each act of your film and/or TV drama (whether the TV drama be a one-off or a series).

I very highly recommend this book because it can help people with how to write a good screenplay, whether it be for film or television.
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on 29 October 2007
I agree with many of the reviewers here who argue that Field advocates quite a formulaic and almost stifling approach to writing scripts. His approach really is based on what major studios would want to see in a script - quite a safe, bankable structure. Also one could argue this is slightly anachronistic: Field's book was written during the so-called 'Golden Age' of film-making, when Coppola, Scorcese et al were arguably at their best. Since then, times have changed slightly, not only in terms of what people want to write, but even what some major studios might look for now.

Nevertheless, Field teaches what are really the basics of decent script-writing. A knowledge of structure, chracter development, holding audience's attentions are all fundamental to being successful. A more independent writer might take all the important lessons on board, and think how to subvert the predictability of the standard structural devices he teaches.

Really, Syd Field's book is a must for all screen-writers. It is also well-written, engaging and something one can easily build upon. After all, you have to know the rules to know how to break break the rules...
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on 5 July 2015
Just read it. Alongside PLOT AND STRUCTURE, SCREENPLAY is the best source I've read to help me grasp plotting. After I read it, I had such a handle on my inciting incident, plot point 1, plot point 2 and 'stakes' that I was able to write my first effective one-page synopsis ever.
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