The Soul of Screenwriting: On Writing, Dramatic Truth, and Knowing Yourself

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9780826428691: The Soul of Screenwriting: On Writing, Dramatic Truth, and Knowing Yourself
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Uniquely inspired by the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell and psychologist Jean Houston, The Soul of Screenwriting demonstrates how the "screenwriting by numbers" approach that offers templates into which the writer may mechanically drop his or her story idea is fundamentally incomplete. Keith Cunningham maintains that in doing so, one ignores the process of writing. Screenwriting is a long journey and even the most gifted screenwriters get lost along the way. Getting lost, Cunningham reminds us, is part of the process too.


What the writer experiences in the act of writing has never been taken into account, yet this is where the screenplay comes from: the writer's here-and-now experience while working on the story. Information-left-brain concepts and techniques about plot structure, character development and orchestration, the dynamics of scenes and sequences-is all necessary. But it is what one does with the information that makes a truly great screenplay. In The Soul of Screenwriting, Cunningham demonstrates that good screenwriting is more than hitting the big "plot points" with exciting action. G ood screenwriting also has integrity and authenticity. It has a "voice," and because it has a voice it speaks to the audience. To gain a voice, the writer needs the heat of creative imagination: passion, commitment, enthusiasm, a drive to know the truth of the characters, and an urge to get to the core of the dramatic conflict without resorting to escapism. These are qualities of the heart, and as Cunningham argues, screenwriting can indeed be, in Carlos Castañeda's phrase, a path with heart.

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About the Author:

Keith Cunningham is a screenwriter and consultant based in Chicago, Illinois and Munich, Germany. He taught for many years in the Columbia College Film and Video Department. With Tom Schlesinger, he has been leading screenwriting and story development seminars worldwide since 1984—including seminars for the Director's Guild, and The Writer's Guild of America. His essays on myth, cinema, and creativity have appeared in numerous journals and books.

Review:

Mention —Book News, November 2008

"[This book] demonstrates that good screenwriting is more than hitting the big plot points with exciting action"Writers Forum, November 2008

"Keith Cunningham's The Soul of Screenwriting: On Writing, Dramatic Truth, and Knowing Yourself...offers an unusual survey inspired by the mythic approach of Joseph Campbell and tinged by the psychology background of Jean Jouston, providing a survey of the act of screenwriting and how the writer's brain and experience juxtaposes to influence technique, character development, scene dynamics and results. It's a scholarly analysis recommended for any film or drama collection." —Midwest Book Review, (The Bookwatch), December 2008

"US script-writing guru Keith Cunningham's hefty self-help guide"Total film, 1 May 2009 (Carmen Gray)

"Writing in a clear, evocative style, screenwriter/consultant Cunningham melds the business side of screenwriting with the craft of screenwriting in an attempt to help writers navigate the often-unwieldy terrain between what an artist needs to create and what the film industry demands as product....In demonstrating the symbiotic
relationship between the writer and the world the writer creates, Cunningham offers writers an unique way to view their craft. And he extols the value of truthful writing, as opposed to formulaic writing, and provides a means to remain faithful to one's art while still producing a viable Hollywood product. More than a tool book, this book teaches writers how to persevere as artists. SUMMING UP: Recommended - Choice (CHOICE)

Mention –Book News, November 2008

“Keith Cunningham’s The Soul of Screenwriting: On Writing, Dramatic Truth, and Knowing Yourself...offers an unusual survey inspired by the mythic approach of Joseph Campbell and tinged by the psychology background of Jean Jouston, providing a survey of the act of screenwriting and how the writer’s brain and experience juxtaposes to influence technique, character development, scene dynamics and results. It’s a scholarly analysis recommended for any film or drama collection.” –Midwest Book Review, (The Bookwatch), December 2008

"US script-writing guru Keith Cunningham's hefty self-help guide"Total film, 1 May 2009 (Sanford Lakoff)

"Writing in a clear, evocative style, screenwriter/consultant Cunningham melds the business side of screenwriting with the craft of screenwriting in an attempt to help writers navigate the often-unwieldy terrain between what an artist needs to create and what the film industry demands as product....In demonstrating the symbiotic
relationship between the writer and the world the writer creates, Cunningham offers writers an unique way to view their craft. And he extols the value of truthful writing, as opposed to formulaic writing, and provides a means to remain faithful to one’s art while still producing a viable Hollywood product. More than a tool book, this book teaches writers  how to persevere as artists. SUMMING UP: Recommended - Choice (CHOICE)

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9780826428684: The Soul of Screenwriting: On Writing, Dramatic Truth, and Knowing Yourself

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ISBN 10:  0826428681 ISBN 13:  9780826428684
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic, 2008
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