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Screenwriter's Compass
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Table of Contents

FIRST THINGS

Screenwriter's Compass

Big Deal-You're Writing a Screenplay

Gear Up

Screenwriting Is Writing

Craftsmanship

GROUNDWORK

Reading Theory

Upsetting Aristotle

Putting Aristotle to Work

Character-Driven versus Plot-Driven

Fable and Construct

Turning Theory to Task

GETTING READY

Master Shot Screenplay

Reading Screenplays

Composition Creates Story

On Outlines

On Character Histories

On Treatments

On Adaptation

FIRST DRAFT

The Blank Page

Scene and Action Description

Camera Gestures and Paragraphing

Being God

Character Logic

Hearing Voices

Empathy

Thinking of Structure

Breaking a Block

REVISION

First Reader

Looking Again for Logic

Questions

Challenges and Pitfalls

On Expectation

FINISHING

Wrighting a Screenplay

Screenplay Format

Series of Shots

Proofreading

Submission

GETTING READY AGAIN

Passion and Purpose

Happy Accident

Intuition and Analysis

Lessons

About the Author

Guy Gallo's first produced screenplay (Under the Volcano) was directed by John Huston and released in 1984. Since then he has written over a dozen feature screenplays, with four others produced. He has over 20 years of teaching experience at the Columbia University's School of the Arts, New York University, and Barnard College, his students including James Mangold (Girl Interrupted, 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line), and Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland).

Reviews

"This month's Book Corner has a theme: Film-making. Los Angeles is where people come to make their dreams come true, especially aspiring writers, directors and producers. Perhaps one of the most common dreams is to make one's movie idea come to Life! But before conquering your first screenplay, you must do your research! Here are some helpful and educational books that will jumpstart your movie-making career. Lights, Camera.Read!"--LATeen Festival Magazine "Encouraging screenwriter-turned-teacher Guy Gallo has sound advice on how to woo fearful readers - telling us the correct size of brass fasteners for binding your submissions might be overdoing it, however."--Total Film "[A] very handy, practical how-to guide to get started writing a screenplay the proper way. What is the proper way, you ask? The way that'll get you read, get you sold, and get your movie produced. In "Compass", Guy Gallo guides you through all the steps to get started and how to end up where you want/need to end up - with a completed screenplay."--IMDb.com "This is a wonderful 'how to' on writing a screenplay from start to finish. It is well-written, easy to comprehend, and chock full of helpful tips and tricks of the trade from a man who lives the life. Between these covers you will find a set of tools that will help you begin your journey of writing a screenplay that you can be proud of."--BookBargainsand Previews.com "For those of you who are completely new to screenwriting, Gallo goes into all the stuff you'll need to know, including all the basics like proper formatting, outlines, treatments, etc. As he writes early, Hollywood survives to tell you 'No', so don't give them any excuses. If 'Screenwriting Compass' is the first book on screenwriting you have ever picked up, you'll find that Gallo offers a lot of very helpful advice, along with a healthy amount of concept, abstract and practical, to ponder."--GeekMecca.com "Often Gallo gives us two examples of whatever he is discussing: The version that sucks and the version that actually works. As simplistic as it may sound, this technique is very effective in allowing even struggling beginners to understand some fairly advanced writing concepts. In stressing the importance of character over situation, Gallo hits on a key facet of screenwriting, one that is often overlooked: Better that your script be about someone, rather than something. Something Movies usually set up a premise in the first couple pages and then spend the remainder of the script merely trying to live up to that initial premise. A quick online search confirms that Gallo truly heeds his own advice."--ShowBizMonkeys.com "For those who believe screenwriters need to know exactly where the story's going to go, Columbia University screenwriting professor Guy Gallo says: Nonsense. In this excerpt from his new book, "Screenwriter's Compass: Character as True North," Gallo explains how exploring your story as you're going through the writing process will help guarantee that your screenplay has a unique voice and a real story to tell. "--Three Lines or Less.com "Screenwriter's Compass is a very different sort of screenwriting book in that it doesn't attempt to show you how to write a screenplay, but, rather, aims to get you to change your approach to writing as a whole by teaching you how to read your work. Over seven chapters, author, Guy Gallo (Under the Volcano), guides us through a fascinating journey through the thought process behind the writing of a screenplay, and, using snippets of philosophy, reading theory, and fragments of other screenplays, asks us to take what we've learned and re-read our scripts. This approach makes it a much more than just another in a long line of "how-to" manuals that already litter the bookstore shelves as Gallo makes it clear from the outset that using his book - or any book, for that matter - will not teach you how to write a screenplay. It will, however, give writers the necessary tools to be more objective when judging their own work and thus allow the writer to use what they've learned to make said work more concise, more logical, and, ultimately, more sellable."--HorrorView.com "Screenwriter's Compass is not simply another How-To guide to screenwriting. It is a how-to-think book, an elegant presentation of fundamental concepts of dramatic construction. This fresh interpretation of screenwriting does not offer formulas to follow but instead gives you the tools needed to chart your own path to screenwriting success. It details useful ways of thinking about writing, as well as practical ideas and concepts to help the writer discover the unique geography of their own imagination and navigate the problems posed by the struggle to express vision, agenda, and story. In addition to using contemporary and classic films, Gallo mines both Aristotle and modern literary theory for ideas that can be turned to task in composition. This new book shows screenwriters not just how to create characters, but to root their screenplays in motivation and voice, to create stories that seduce and make the reader lean forward."--BinSideTV "I've probably read more books on screenwriting than your average reader, and Gallo does have some unique takes on how to approach some old topics. Like his fellow produced screenwriter William Goldman (who Gallo quotes here), Gallo bucks some established truths when it comes to writing a script, while re-enforcing others. Like I said, at this point there's very few things Gallo could have told me that I didn't already know about writing a screenplay, that I haven't read from other sources, but he does manage to introduce some new concepts that I hadn't considered previously. For those of you who are completely new to screenwriting, Gallo goes into all the stuff you'll need to know, including all the basics like proper formatting, outlines, treatments, etc. As he writes early, Hollywood survives to tell you "No", so don't give them any excuses. If "Screenwriting Compass" is the first book on screenwriting you have ever picked up, you'll find that Gallo offers a lot of very helpful advice, along with a healthy amount of concept, abstract and practical, to ponder."--BeyondHollywood.co "More than just the compass..this is the whole ship. Designed to safely navigate a screenwriter's journey to safe harbor, it's a virtual mega-yacht of a book: swift, secure, beautifully detailed...and above all, fun. Guy Gallo is one of the very few practitioners of the art who can show you how to chart your own course...and survive."--Tony Bill, producer The Sting (1973) "I now have a screenwriting bible. As a working screenwriter, Gallo's words serve as a fantastic check-list for producing quality work. As a teacher of filmmaking, Gallo has provided my students and I with an incredibly useful and lucid set of tools. Gallo is a generous man for sharing his screenwriting genius."--Emily Abt, writer, director, film professor, Princeton University "Guy Gallo celebrates the adventure of writing a screenplay. He encourages writers to end up with 'a surprise that wasn't what you sat down to write.' It's simply the best book about writing for the screen I've read."-- Terry Jones, screenwriter, Monty Python and the Holy Grail; Life of Brian; Labyrinth "For those who believe screenwriters need to know exactly where the story's going to go, Columbia University screenwriting professor Guy Gallo says: Nonsense. In this excerpt from his new book, "Screenwriter's Compass: Character as True North," Gallo explains how exploring your story as you're going through the writing process will help guarantee that your screenplay has a unique voice and a real story to tell. "--IndieWire.com "This is a great book for anyone (professional or even a beginner) who is into writing screenplays."--SmartCanucks.ca "Screenwriter's Compass is not simply another How-To guide to screenwriting. It is a how-to-think book, an elegant presentation of fundamental concepts of dramatic construction. In addition to using contemporary and classic films, Gallo mines both Aristotle and modern literary theory for ideas that can be turned to task in composition. This new book shows screenwriters not just how to create characters, but to root their screenplays in motivation and voice, to create stories that seduce and make the reader lean forward."--Artwork of Jennie Yuen

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