Fitzgerald Did It: The Writer's Guide to Mastering the Screenplay (Penguin Original)

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9780140275766: Fitzgerald Did It: The Writer's Guide to Mastering the Screenplay (Penguin Original)

A one-of-a-kind guide to help writers translate their literary talents to the big screen.

This is a book for all writers, be they published or unpublished, novelists or journalists, who want to write for the movies. Meg Wolitzer, who has transformed herself from novelist to novelist/screenwriter, shows writers how they, too, can use their grasp of story, language, and character to write great screenplays. Wolitzer discusses those aspects of screenwriting that can stymie even the most seasoned of writers. Her topics include:

* getting started
* the essential three-act structure
* how writers can use what they already know about writing
* why write a treatment and how to do it
* how to write visually instead of verbally
* creating for the market

Wolitzer also advises on shedding obstructive writing habits and adapting one's own work and the work of others for the big screen. Level-headed, encouraging, and always delightful, Fitzgerald Did It is a must for every writer's bookshelf.
"If you try to write a screenplay, as I do, and you don't know what you're doing, as I don't, you have to read this book, as I have. Repeatedly." --Cathleen Schine, author of The Love Letter and The Evolution of Jane

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Review:

Unlike the many screenwriting guidebooks geared toward Hollywood wannabes with little writing experience whatsoever, this one is intended for writers--particularly fiction writers and journalists--eager to make the leap to screenwriting. Blessedly absent are the tedious lessons about how to write; in their stead is an explanation, almost, in unlearning how to write. "Writers' initial screenplays tend to be talky, static, interior and structurally shaky," says author Meg Wolitzer (Surrender, Dorothy). The screenplay form, Wolitzer maintains, "is more often about architecture and imagery and movement than it is about language."

Wolitzer's fine primer on the craft of screenwriting emphasizes visual drama, action, structure, and, most of all, overstatement. "In movies," Wolitzer says, "art exaggerates life. Life becomes bigger, bolder, more brilliantly hued, as well as funnier, more tragic, more action-packed, more filled with coincidence." In Fitzgerald Did It, Wolitzer addresses such issues such as treatments, collaboration, adapting fiction to film, the differences between literary and film agents, and scriptwriting no-noes. Though it's nearly impossible not to think about what Hollywood directors and producers are looking for while you write your script, don't try writing something you don't care about, warns Wolitzer. "It's not that you'll hate yourself in the morning, as you wake up in your new L.A. mansion--but that you probably won't be waking up in a mansion, because your script will lack authenticity and vigor." And, in case you're wondering about the title, a desperately broke Fitzgerald went to Hollywood in 1937 and is said to have written small bits for several films, including the scene in Gone with the Wind "in which Rhett receives the bonnet he then gives to Scarlett." --Jane Steinberg

About the Author:

Meg Wolitzer is the author of eight previous novels, including The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, and The Wife. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. She lives in New York City.

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Wolitzer, Meg
Published by Penguin Books 1999-05-01 (1999)
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