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3.8 out of 5 stars16
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 16 February 2014
You might not ever watch a film the same way again after reading this masterly text.
Field talks us through structure, dialogue, characterisation and much more by using well-known films as examples.
A very excellent book. Party on!
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on 5 February 2007
After trawling through numerous screenwriting books in the shop (sorry amazon, it was waterstone's), I finally decieded to plump for the one with the quotation "the guru of all screenwriters" on the cover. In hindsite I should have noted that this attests to the ability of the author as a screenwriter, not the quality of the book. And with good reason. In case my review title didn't make the point, i felt i was covering the same ground in chapter 12 as i did in chapters 1,2,3... Action, character, conflict and not much more.

If made compact (and it could easily have been cut in half) it could have made a decent effort to motivate novice screenwriters (like myself) beyond writing blocks and the like, as well as introduce one or two technical principles. However, it is far too long considering the depth of the material.

Moreover, given the quality of the overall language and structure of the book, it's a wonder how he ever managed to put pen to paper in a profitable way at all, be it to sell a script or to sell a book on the back of having sold a script. I wish i had purchased any one of the other books on the shelf; One to avoid.
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on 10 September 2003
Syd Field is a respected individual in Hollywood - His knowledge is indespensible for people who want to break into this type of work - If you're a writer who wants to write great stuff but also want to correct any past errors or bad writing habbits then this is a great book - Its completely in depth and covers the screenwriting process from start to finish - Syd writes in an easy informative way while also being very entertaining and giving classic Hollywood movie examples - The book is nearly 400 pages long and a worthy purchase for any screenwriter (Amateur or professional.). Its like a complete screenwriting course in book format.
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on 26 February 2007
Syd Field was recommended to me by my screenwriting lecturer as probably the most comprehensive and best guide to screenwriting around. Field follows Aristotles rule of beginning middle end, or in fields terms Setup - confrontation - resolution throughout the book, drumming the basic rules of assembling a screenplay into the minds of inexperienced and so called experienced writers. Something that some may find 'repetative'! Its supposed to be, and repetative is the wrong word anyway. Syd Field is trying to make us avoid those initial mistakes that are so often made with new writers, and also old writers. The first being 'know your story, know your characters and know your plot inside and out before your finger touches that key on final draft'. Hey it would probably be useful to write such 'repeated' rules as 'Drama is conflict' a hundred times on your wall beforehand. Theres a reason why people like Robert Towne wrote such legendary scripts on Fields techniques. He cuts out the bullsh*t, just like all good scripts should. And as for 'not for indie writers', thats crap! OK so Field worked in Hollywood, but read other filmakers stuff like Elliot Groves, founder of Raindance and writers like my lecturer. What they write and teach all cover the same basic prinicpals of scriptwriting that Field put forward. So whether your indie or want to hit the wood, do yourself, and script editors a big favour and read this stuff first.
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on 26 January 2013
I was told to get this book by my Uni tutors, and I expected a lot from "The Guru of Screenwriting" but, to be honest, I found that the man just rambled chapter after chapter, sharing his own opinion and nothing else.

I disagree with most of what he says, and find he only really follows very typical, simple, formulaic screenplays. He sets up rules, these rules that he backs up very poorly and rules that are very clearly based on his own personal preferences, and does not seem to care that many of the best films, commercially and critically, do not follow his rules.

The whole book stinks of a man who has never wrote a successfull screneplay himself.
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on 26 August 2009
This book is far from perfect, but it answers the questions that most beginning screenwriters will have: where do I start, which steps do I have to take and how can I fit it all together? I would recommend people to summarize this book, and take the info you need.

A lot of info is repeated endlessly throughout the book, but for your benefit.

While I found the whole 2 plot points approach a bit outdated, the book offers some very valuable advise on character creation. I have read a lot of books about screenwriting but none of them offered such useful tools on shaping your characters as in this book.
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on 16 February 2013
A Christmas present for my son who is writing a play for television. He has had a course with an expert
in Hong Kong, where he lives, and rated this book highly.
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on 17 September 2013
Well written, each critical point well thought through, and very useful information provided. I read it with ease and gratification.
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on 11 February 2014
I found this book really useful in focusing my ideas and ensuring that I get the basics right. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 26 February 2005
After hearing about Syd Field, I read "The Definitive Guide", and feel compelled to warn people away.
While at times some the advice he offers is useful, such as the "After it's written" chapter, other's reduce the art of screenwriting to an ill-thought out formula. His whole notion of "Plot Points", and the delusion they always occur at two places is ridiculuous.
But the worst thing about the book is that it will force its readers to produce cliches; example: I couldn't believe it when he advised giving your protagonist a pet to make them a more interesting character. Other parts of the book are mildly interesting, but he neither truly understands the art nor knows how to teach its principles.
How on earth Syd Field has gained such a reputation is beyond me. In my opinion, next to Aristotle's Poetics, the truly definitive duide to Screenwriting is a book which recognises not only the Art of Screenwriting, but also the wonders that are stories in general - Robert McKee's "Story".
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