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The Screenwriter's Handbook 2009 edited by Barry Turner

01/09/2008. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The Screenwriter's Handbook 2009 in the USA - or Buy The Screenwriter's Handbook 2009 in the UK

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pub: Palgrave Macmillan. 290 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: 16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-0230-57326-0.

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As with 'The Writer's Handbook' last month, I do think its important to review certain books that can provide valuable information for the budding author so they can ply their developing trade. Not all of you reading this are likely to be good prose writers. Some might just turn into decent scriptwriters although the course of this is far harder when it comes to breaking in at any level. Even so, 'The Screenwriter's Handbook', now in its second edition, is the keys to the door of where to look. Not just in the UK but across the world although it makes more sense to keep to your home country and let the budding scriptwriters use it to try their own market. This book is distributed world-wide after all although the countries covered are the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

The opening thirty-two pages are essentially nine articles feeding advice of the various demands of being a scriptwriter. Such skills aren't just used in theatre, film or TV but also in computer games. Andrew Walsh's piece on this latter subject is most illuminating because scriptwriters for it are not just for the overall story but anything that needs words from displays to side-dialogue.

The company lists point out which ones to avoid cos they don't look at unsolicited material which saves everyone unnecessary time. Saying that, there are plenty still who might take an interest. Scriptwriters invariably have to write what they are asked to write rather than the other way around. A sharp reminder that you can't start at the top but need to get a foothold in anywhere. If anything, I wish the book gave some guidelines on presentation, especially when asked for a synopsis or just a sample, so you go in better prepared. No doubt that might be considered in editions to come.

There are also sections on agents, courses, societies and organisations and festivals not to mention awards and prizes. No one says scriptwriting is easy. If anything, the writing itself gets away from the strife of getting some company having your dialogue heard or performed. With this book, you will be at least prepared.

GF Willmetts

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