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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive Scriptwriting book
As well as creating the multi-award winning Babylon 5 Television series, J. Michael Straczynski has given seminars and advice on screenwriting for some years.
As writer, scripr editor and producer his experience spans a variety of programme styles including cartoon animation, straight drama and science fiction. This comes through loud and clear in this volume,...
Published on 19 May 1999

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Essentially a Babylon 3!
A weighty tome, laced with a good use of metaphor and language. It givesreasonable guidance on the importance of format, though American readerswill find it more useful than Europeans in this respect. It's cautionarytone helps keep the budding writer on his/her toes, always avoiding thestarry-eyed bull and bluster that is often typical of this type of book. Significant...
Published on 25 April 2004 by Joy R. Holliday


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive Scriptwriting book, 19 May 1999
By A Customer
As well as creating the multi-award winning Babylon 5 Television series, J. Michael Straczynski has given seminars and advice on screenwriting for some years.
As writer, scripr editor and producer his experience spans a variety of programme styles including cartoon animation, straight drama and science fiction. This comes through loud and clear in this volume, the second edition of 'The Complete Guide to Scriptwriting.
Straczynski teaches by example, dealing with technique for all types of script. Chapter by chapter he deals with a different topic, telling you how to write for each type, how to sell - even how to draw up your own contracts.
The information he gives on structure and layout is invaluable - script readers are pedantic beyond belief.
Straczynski comes across as honest, open and plain speaking. He tells you what will work and what will not - and teaches you to review your own work objectively.
Obviously there is an American bias to all the information, but this will be a valuable reference tome for all budding writers. Accept no substitutes - learn from the master!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Essentially a Babylon 3!, 25 April 2004
By 
Joy R. Holliday "bundleofjoyuk" (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A weighty tome, laced with a good use of metaphor and language. It givesreasonable guidance on the importance of format, though American readerswill find it more useful than Europeans in this respect. It's cautionarytone helps keep the budding writer on his/her toes, always avoiding thestarry-eyed bull and bluster that is often typical of this type of book. Significant chunks of this book however, bear little relevance to theneeds of non-Americans, and that is where it falls short slightly. Alliedto that, his chroncling of TV history is outrageously US-centric. Baird,the Beeb and Alexandra Palace don't even merit a mention. If I wereAmerican, I'd probably give it a 5-star rating. As a Brit, it'shistorical bias and lack of a global perspective prompts me to give it a3.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect... ish, 21 Mar 2002
This is perfect for writers at all levels. Providing a good history to the subject and telling you all you need to know in the fields of Animation, Comics and Screenwriting. Not all of this may be applicable to you (it wasn't to me), but Straczynski has had success in all those fields from He-Man to Murder She Wrote to Babylon 5 to The Amazing Spiderman. One of the few screenwriting book actually written by someone who is doing well. So many are written by people who present a lot of seminars but haven't sold anything. LISTEN TO THIS MAN - success and quality are a rare commodity!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book on writing that's not a stupid "how-to"?, 19 Mar 1999
By A Customer
HELL YES!
This book gives you *suggestions* for story and structure, without cramming some step-by-step stifling "guaranteed" method down your throat. JMS's advice is open-ended and encourages you to strike out on your own and write unique, one-of-a-kind scripts that are completely yours. No Syd Field type "paradigm", no top secret formula that the author claims can be found in ALL successful movies (or TV shows or cartoons or plays...)--No BS!
But what this book does best is function as a reference for a wide variety of script formats and styles, from television to radio to the stage to the screen (even cartoons are covered). The book gives you ideas on how to market your particular script, helps the reader to decide what kind of story he'd like to tell or what kind of script he'd like to write, even gives you some ideas of what to expect depending on your choices. (You even get solid guidelines on what producers and professional readers expect the script to look like, right down to page margins.)
No scriptwriter should be without this book. It is crammed full of refreshingly useful and relevant information, it's funny, it's no-nonsense, it's fun to read, and it makes you want to sit down and get writing.
Let the "wannabes" read something like "How to be a Megarich Screenwriter in 24 Hours" or "PROVEN Hollywood Secrets". But if you're serious and not dumb enough to expect the road to be easy, check this book out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not perfect, 12 July 1999
By A Customer
JMS's book is definitely worth a look, but unfortunately it tries to cover a little too much. This means that some of the topics are only covered piece-meal. However, if you're serious about `getting into the industry' then grab the book. It has some valuable lessons inside.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring intersection to the world of scriptwriting, 21 Mar 1997
By A Customer
A simply wonderful, easy to read, and interesting
introduction to the world of television, radio and
stage, even for a non-writer like me. A book with
good hints and words of warning to a would-be writer.
After reading this book, I finally know what all of those
supervising and executive producers and story editors do.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Writer's Bible..., 9 July 1999
By A Customer
I will spare You the same comments as the other reviews, as we are all in agreement that this book is incredible. There is a business that any writer must deal with, and JMS tells You how to go about it. Without this knowledge, You will *never* get hired. Also, JMS challenges the reader to not simply go around telling others, "I'm a writer." Rather, he wants You to have discipline and write whenever You have a moment's time to do so. There are a lot of talkers, and then there are those who succeed by hard work, discipline, an understanding of how the business works, and perseverance. I would highly endorse this book over other books that are simply made to take Your money, not unlike many of those scam writers' workshops who tell You the winning "formula" to a great work. JMS has paid his dues, written hundreds of scripts, and has worked as an Executive Producer for many successful shows. So please don't waste Your money on a fly by night writer who has never succeeded herself, but listen to the honesty and sincerity of a man who wrote this book under the premise that he wished he had had this book when he started. Best of luck to You all.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother - especially if you're from the UK, 31 Oct 1999
By A Customer
Having read the book cover to cover I can say that it is virtually worthless for the budding scriptwriter. Concentrating heavily on the history of Cinema in the US each Chapter has 'A History Of' section which makes up about 40% of the book. Another large portion is given to the present market in Hollywood etc etc. As far as scriptwriting tuition - it does mention Format, Structure etc. but nowhere near in enough depth that is required. If you want a book about American Film history and some occasional rantings about Babylon 5, then by all means buy it. I would recommend to all Teach Yourself Screenwriting.
An absolutely excellent book, which out of the 7 screenwriting books I have purchased I can truly say is worth 100 times the price.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STRACZYNSKI...The KING!, 13 Jan 1999
By A Customer
J. Michael Straczynski, creator and writer of the successful Babylon 5 and writer on Murder, She Wrote brings us this truly GREAT Screenwriter's Bible. That's what it was for me...it was brilliant.
Straczynski takes you through the elements of scriptwriting for radio, television, film and stage, as well as multimedia and the future for scriptwiriters. His chapters are interesting, helpful and full of all the experiences/things he learned and knows about the industry.
I found it great reading, informative, and, most of all, helpful in getting those screenplays written. Great for the writing enthusiast or even just for someone who would like to know what goes on in the industry!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scriptwriting, or the Tinseltown FAQ?, 3 Feb 1997
By A Customer
Salted with script excerpts and script layouts in equal measure, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF SCRIPTWRITING is written with humour and a prose style which makes it almost as easy to read as fiction. It even includes the award-winning Babylon 5 script, "The Coming of Shadows" as an appendix. But is it an effective textbook?

The book covers the areas of film, screen, radio, animation and stage play scriptwriting in detail. It will show you how to develop a script in each genre from original idea through synopsis, then outline, to first draft, demonstrating at each stage who you'll be dealing with on the production side, and what you should expect to receive in payment. The pitfalls and the cynical traps some companies use are well signposted.

A significant failing, though, is that it does not cover as much of the art and technical aspects of scriptwriting as one might like - jms, as he's universally known on the Internet, seems to have the approach that the best teacher is practice. He devotes much more space to the layout of scripts (crucial to acceptance), their development and their marketing, with many anecdotes to illuminate, entertain and illustrate.

This is all very well, but layout and marketing details are local to the US. If you are intending to live in L.A. and write for the local market, this book is essential reading. If you live or work abroad, you may find the scriptwriting tips in the Complete Book a little incomplete for the cover price, although many Babylon 5 fans have bought it simply for the full episode script at the back.

None the less, this is a very well-written book (as one would expect from jms). It is not remotely starchy - unlike many books for writers - and it covers areas of scriptwriting which most other tomes on the subject fail to address, or at least in such detail. If you need to learn from scratch how to write, or to write a script, you'll find plenty of books already out there. But if you need a guide through the almost inpenetrable jungle of L.A., jms is your man, and the Complete Book is your map.

Jon Green (jonsg@pobox.com)
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Complete Book of Scriptwriting
Complete Book of Scriptwriting by J. Michael Straczynski (Paperback - Dec 1988)
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