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on 16 September 1998
This book is ABSOLUTELY the best on the subject. And I've read _all_ of them: Field, Froug, Hunter, Seger, Halperin, and many more. The analyses of clasic and newer films are exhaustive and the "Tools" section provides an indispensible guide for any writer. It sits right next to my computer. When I sell my first screen play, David Howard will be the first one I call to say "Thank you."
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on 22 July 1999
Forget all of the other books out there...or, buy the other books, but make this one first on your list. Howard and Mabley are both accomplished professional writers and they know their tools of the craft, which they now share with you. This book succeeds immensely simply because it lists the elements of a screenplay and tells how each is best used and why. It has all of the basic elements: Dialogue, Dramatic Irony, etc. But ever heard of "Preparation and Aftermath", "Future and Advertising", "Planting and Payoff", or "Plausibility"? If not, then learn how to include them in YOUR screenplay to make it better, more exciting, and more fulfilling in a dramatic and universal way. Absolutely the best book on screenwriting. Period. Buy it now. I have read it a countless number of times and each time I learn something new or it spurs my imagination to create something new in the world of my screenplay. Please do yourself a favor and get a hold of this book. A masterpiece of screenplay instruction.
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on 28 February 1999
"Tools" is written by an intellectual with many years under his belt. He starts from the bottom up, and teaches you writing from the most basic levels to the most complex of ideas. This book not only improves your screenwriting skills by leaps and bounds, but enriches your movie-going experience.
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on 10 November 2007
I was recommended this book by my tutor on a university screenwriting course and I have found it easily the most useful of the many screenwriting books I've read. If you want a thoughtful, perceptive and readable primer then I don't think there's anything better. The authors don't attempt to give a story "blueprint" (like that of Syd Field) and there is none of the dense and prescriptive prose of Robert McKee's "Story". The book does not attempt to advance any overarching theory or model but concentrates on story awareness and skills. There are short chapters covering basic storytelling tools such as protagonist-antagonist relationships, conflict, the world of the story and the uses of uncertainty. The authors then go on to show how these elements work in film and explain the various scriptwriting techniques to make the story work, write interesting characters that are complex and believable and keep the audience watching. The style is highly readable, obviously knowledgeable and very inspiring. All ideas and techniques are backed up with excellent examples and the analyses of various feature films are genuinley helpful in explaining the screenwriting elements that the authors have identified.
Highly recommended.
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on 29 April 2014
Like the book, paper cut off from text is a bit tight. Same text as 1995 edition. It's a very helpful book, I like the brevity of chapters.
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on 26 September 2008
TO CALL DAVID HOWARD AN INTELLECTUAL IS SURPRISING, & ERRONEOUS. HE NEVER MET MABLEY, BUT SIMPLIFIED & DUMBED-DOWN MABLEY'S THOUGHTFUL & WIDE-RANGING BOOK, WHICH COVERS DRAMA FROM SOPHOCLES TO GIRAUDOUX TO WEISS' MARAT/SADE. MABLEY'S BOOK IS SADLY OUT OF EDITION. THERE ARE MANY BETTER BOOKS THAN THIS - TRY LINDA COWGILL, OR YVES LAVANDIER. HOWARD IS THE DECEASED FRANK DANIEL'S MOST AVID DISCIPLE, BUT LACKS DANIEL'S LEARNING, TALENT & INTUITION. I WORK FULL-TIME WITH PROFESSIONAL FILM WRITERS, & I'VE NEVER MET ONE WHO RATED HOWARD, WHO IS THE ARCHETYPAL AMERICAN GURU.
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