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4.6 out of 5 stars25
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on 13 February 2011
I have read other `how to write' books and this is the best I have come across. It is packed with excellent help and advice, backed up by genuine examples. What I found particularly useful were the compare and contrast sections, where Smethurst presents the same story but told in very different ways. One can see immediately the reasoning behind his advice about what makes a script work and, crucially, what to avoid, dissecting dialogue, location, characters, and plot. The book also provides an invaluable - and entertaining - overview of the television industry in general, and what script editors and programme commissioners are looking for in particular; everything from where best to send a script to how wide the margins on the page should be. If you buy only one book on writing for television, I would say this is the book to buy. I recommend it highly.
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on 20 February 2011
A brilliant book. Writers who learned script writing skills from William Smethurst have worked on Holby City, Eastenders, The Bill, Doctors, Hollyoaks, Taggart, and on the radio scripting The Archers (Smethurst was editor for several years, and even created the late lamented character of Nigel Pargiter). Smethurst doesn't believe in overwhelming new writers with complicated rules and pages of theorising. He believes this approach strangles new talent at birth. His advice is: take the critically important hints from professionals, and start writing a saleable script now! He lays out the basic rules with a relaxed humour that disguises an intense desire to help new writers succeed.
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on 3 February 2009
I bought this without any other reviews which I normally never do. However I wasn't disappointed. The sections are very practical, and very detailed. All the different areas of writing are covered eg dramas, sitcoms, soaps, etc with the pros and cons of writing for each of them plus the chances of getting any accepted. A very useful purchase and one that I can keep going back to when I think about trying something new.
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on 31 March 2011
I have had several ideas floating around for a while with no idea how to formulate them into scripts for screen, tv drama etc so purchased this book and found it amazing. Great advice and also a joy to read. If your starting out as a screen writter this will be your guide and your bible.
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on 8 January 2011
An excellent book, packed full of useful information. It covers not only how to structure scripts and other practical writing tips it also gives plenty of information where and how to submit scripts.The information is presented in a clear and concise style. A good book for anyone who would like to write for television, but is unsure where to start.
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on 16 February 2011
His analysis of what makes a saleable sitcom is very good. I don't know about the other areas of writing, but this chapter is excellent, and pretty much essential reading I would have thought for anyone who wants to know how to get a sitcom idea onto the screen.
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on 9 September 2012
An informative and useful book written by a man I used to work with as a reporter forty years ago. Smethurst has the qualifications and track record with The Archers and various TV companies to ensure that you are reading the work of a true pro'. He knows exactly what he's writing about.

A feature film optioned screenwriter and novelist myself I stumbled across it on Amazon and immediately bought it. Having read it I believe Bill Smethurst's book is invaluable for new writers hoping to work in TV. I personally found it useful for a TV project on which I was embarking. My only mild criticism is I felt it could have been just a little more detailed. But a good read, helpful and well worth the money. To quote the blurb for Final Draft software, after reading this all you have to do is "just add words." (And that's the hard bit!) Stuart White
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2014
How to Write for Television is a very thorough yet easy-to-read guide to every step of the writing process, from ideas, characters and plotting to pitching, commissioning and production. It's full of practical advice, offered with good humour and no pretension.

It's a tad dated in places - presumably this is a revised version of one of an earlier book - but most of the information is timeless, to do with the basics of telling a good story as a TV play. Where it points to resources and such, it's usually been updated to reflect the current industry.

Two big plus points: The author clearly has skills and vast experience in the field; he writes primarily for a UK audience, where most books are from an American perspective, which isn't always as relevant to writers here.
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on 5 June 2012
Very informative. I have had this book for a while now and I still refer to it alot. Some really great hints and tips.
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on 14 July 2013
Lots of ideas here for a complete novice who dreams of seeing her stories on the small screen. Also gives ideas on where to submit your plays when you've written them.
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