A valuable guide presented in an entertaining, practical format and filled with the humor and insight of an industry veteran.


Screenwriting In a Nutshell

An entertaining, practical how-to guide on the art of writing screenplays for television and movies.

Debut author and former adjunct professor Friedman (University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts) presents the fundamental principles of screenplay writing in a breezy, engaging primer that will appeal to students and experienced writers alike. Written in an easy-to-read, whimsical style with dozens of illustrations, useful quotations and references to movie scripts, Friedman’s guide takes delight in making the craft of writing fun. Insightful nuggets of wisdom pop from pages covering topics such as “The Structure of Screenplays,” “A Checklist Before You Choose a Story for a Movie,” “How to Create Great Characters,” “How to Write Good Dialogue” and “Plots.” Friedman’s years of experience in the movie industry and in teaching screenwriting are evident in succinct, often illustrated suggestions to compress time, add tension and “toss in something unexpected.” For instance, one illustrated example features an unaware man walking to his mailbox that houses a live snake. Friedman emphasizes that the core of drama is conflict, and he teaches the key elements of creating a good story by developing and resolving conflict through plotting, action and character development. Also, he explains the frameworks, such as the three-act structure, that typically produce successful screenplays. He goes on to addresses other, more complex topics like turning points, climaxes, flashbacks, subtext, camera directions and denouements. Several checklists will help writers get started, as will tips on how to format a screenplay. At the end, Friedman suggests which genres sell best and how to market a screenplay. Illustrations by artist Nelson Dewey are funny and incisive, functioning like a storyboard to help emphasize the author’s basic points and keep the text from being overly dry or academic.

A valuable guide presented in an entertaining, practical format and filled with the humor and insight of an industry veteran.

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1450546829

Page Count: 276

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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