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October 16, 2005 - "Ready anytime you are, CB!"

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Marguerite A. Fair
Marguerite A. Fair

Book Wrangler

October 16, 2005

By Bob Patterson


It seems like everyone in Washington knows all about politics, every one in Detroit knows about automobiles, and everyone one in LA is working on a spec script for a possible movie so it was no surprise when the Book Wrangler went to a book signing in the neighborhood and learned that Marguerite A. Fair, who was there to promote her new book Extreme Low Budget Apartment Makeovers, had also written several movie scripts and is working on various efforts to get her work on the big screen.


One of the first rules of book promotion is never disparage any possibility for publicity, even if it's someone who's first three questions are:


Should Bush get a third term?

Did Roosevelt know that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor?

How many gunmen were at Dealy Plaza?


Ms. Fair passed that bit of preliminary challenge with flying colors: 


1. No - 2. Yes - and 3. One perhaps two - and then immediately proceeded to the specifics of book promotion. 


She was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey and added "Newark when it was nice."


We immediately caught the joke and realized that she was a humorist.  (Isn't saying "Newark when it was nice" an oxymoron?) 


Ms. Fair "ran away from home at forty-eight, when I learned what I wanted to be when I grew up."


Once a person comes to that point in life, there's nothing left to do but travel to LA and begin to learn about script writing.


At that point the interview morphed into evaluations of various books about the craft that made Shane Black well known.


Ms. Fair has also written Telling On Myself: How To Not Lose Weight, Find Lover, Or Grow Old Gracefully and Am I Still Talking?  Did I Say Something Funny?


For this column we will hit the highlights of the vast array of books available to folks who think they can crank out the next hit movie, once they select the proper script software for their computer.


The top recommendation, which is for scriptwriters what the novels of Raymond Chandler are to mystery writers, Syd Field's Screenplay: The Foundations Of Screenwriting.  If one is going to learn about a new subject, it is best to buy a selection of books and get differing points of view, but the Syd Field book forms the keystone for most collections on the topic of writing movie scripts.


Next on the must read list will be Story by Robert McKee.  "To complicate progressively means to generate more and more conflict as they face greater and greater forces of antagonism, creating a succession of events that passes points of no return."  Page 208.


Another fine book for the budding scriptwriter is 20 Master Plots (And How To Build Them) by Ronald B. Tobias.  "The foundation of comedy is deception: mistaken identities, double meanings, confusion."  Page 33.


After reading all those, you'll need to get Selling A Screenplay: The Screenwriter's Guide To Hollywood, also by Syd Field.


Only You, Dick Darling! Or How To Write One Television Script And Make $50,000.000 ("a true-life adventure") by Merle Miller and Evan Rhodes was an amusing fun read.  Don't expect to find Steven Speilburg's cellphone number in this one, because it was published in 1964.  "No amount of polishing will make a mirror of the brick, sir."  Page 173.


A quick check of the topic at Amazon brings up some more items of possible interest.


500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader: Writing the Screenplay the Reader Will Recommend by Jennifer Lerch  ($12 paperback Fireside)


How to Write a Movie in 21 Days by Viki King  ($15.00 paperback Collins)


Screenwriting for Dummies by Laura Schellhardt, John Logan,  ($19.99 paperback For Dummies)


Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger  ($15 paperback Owl Books)


The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters: Insider's Secrets from Hollywood's Top Writers by Karl Iglesias ($12.95 paperback Adams Media Corporation)


How Not to Write a Screenplay: 101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make by Denny Martin Flinn  ($16.95 paperback Lone Eagle Publishing Company)


Folks who live in the LA area might want to find out more about The Writer's Store or the Independent Writers of Southern California group.


Web surfers interested in the topic may also want to visit the sites for these:


Writers Guild of America (West)

Script Sales


Word Play

Screenwriter's Utopia

Film Tracker


… and got CHUD?


Conrad Hilton has been quotes as saying: "Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving.  They make mistakes, but they don't quit."


Most script writing books contain a slew of quotes about persistence and determination, but it doesn't hurt if your uncle also is the head of production at a major studio.


Now, if the disk jockey will perform his duties, we will listen to Dean Martin's song (the first punk hit?) Ain't That A Kick In The Head?   We'll exit stage right.  Will next week's column be better than this one?  Tune in and see.  Meanwhile, have a week where the number of pitches you deliver would astonish even Babe Ruth (who started his baseball career as a pitcher).




Copyright 2005 – Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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