Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Today: Writing in Pictures by Joseph McBride

With the Golden Globes just behind us and the Oscars just ahead, a lot of attention is focused on the movies right now. And when that happens, those of us who love books inevitably think of the words that make those films. In some cases, we take all of that another step and think about writing for film. If all this movie talk turns your head in that way, you might want to take a peek at Writing in Pictures (Vintage) by film historian, writing professor and screenwriter Joseph McBride.

“Who needs another book on screenwriting?” McBride begins. Who indeed? Yet this author does things differently. He goes on to tell us that, in Writing in Pictures, he has created the book he himself went looking for when he was breaking into the business many years ago.

One thing is clear throughout the book: McBride knows this territory. He shares his information with the assurance and polish of someone who understands the way there. As he says, “Your own talent and drive will carry you into your professional career. But every professional writer has to start with the basics.” That’s what he supplies here. And more.

McBride breaks down the complicated-seeming challenge of writing a screenplay into a series of approachable tasks, along the way giving a clear illustration of process by adapting a classic short story right in front of our eyes, using it to show all aspects of what goes into telling a story that will be told on screen.

Writing in Pictures: Screenwriting Made (Mostly) Painless is absolutely different than any other books on this topic I’ve seen. It’s clear, lucid and possibly life-changing for the right reader. ◊

Aaron Blanton is a contributing editor to January Magazine. He’s currently working on a book based on his experiences as an American living abroad.

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