I’m about 70% into this collection of essays by Hollywood authors and scriptwriters and I love it. I devoured that much of it in one sitting and then had to put it down because I wanted to savor it a bit more.
The first story – by Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame – sets the tone for the book. Alda writes about the first time he felt the thrill of creation while working on a script for an episode of the famous Korean War television series. After Alda’s three-page story the editors deliver a barrage of mini-editorials by some of the most famous creative minds in show business. There are essays by well-known talents such as Lawrence Kasdan, Steven Bochco, and Cameron Crowe that will excite any fan of good writing.
I want to make it very clear that the book is *not* an instruction manual, a tutorial, or a “how-to”. There are no chapters detailing how much writers earn in Hollywood, how to “break into the biz”, or to what address you should send your script for “Ally McBeal”. It is simply a collection of stories written by prominent Hollywood writers about their experiences the first time they ever got paid to write. “Simply” is not a word, though, that should be used to describe this book. If you are a writer, or are fascinated by the process of writing – and by that I mean putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and creating a story – you will love to read about these authors’ first times.
There are about 60 essays (15 by women) in this 250 page book. There is an appendix with some details about the Writer’s Guild Foundation (a non-profit, charitable organization distinct from the Writer’s Guild of America, a union). The book was published in 2002 and is up-to-date.
If there’s any complaint to be made about this book, it’s just that the stories are too short. Most of them are less than four pages. It is really a treat to get to read into the minds of these writers and discover what they felt when they got their first script published or their first screenplay made into a movie. Most of them seem to be lessons along the line of, “Don’t give up!” aimed at struggling writers in the shark-infested waters of Hollywood, but some are truly inspirational tales of men and women who had a great idea and were “discovered” by the world.
I highly recommend this book.
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