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Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  2,943 ratings  ·  203 reviews
A generation of screenwriters has used Syd Field’s bestselling books to ignite successful careers in film. Now the celebrated producer, lecturer, teacher, and bestselling author has updated his classic guide for a new generation of filmmakers, offering a fresh insider’s perspective on the film industry today. From concept to character, from opening scene to finished script ...more
Paperback, Newly Revised And Updated, 309 pages
Published November 29th 2005 by Delta (first published 1984)
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This book is a classic, but it was written in the 1970s and I think better writers have since copied Field's ideas and written stronger books that use them. Syd Field may be a great screenwriter, but his writing in this book is not so hot. His phrasing is clunky, his chapters are disorganized and rambling, and his examples are sometimes difficult to follow. At times he contradicts himself from one paragraph to the next and at other times he repeats himself word-for-word, paragraph-for-paragraph ...more
Mostafa Sakr
كتاب مهم ليس فقط لمن يسعى لتعلم كتابة السيناريو ، لكن برشحة لكل حد بيحب السينما كمشاهد وعادى ولاى كاتب ، الكتاب فية بعض الفصول المهمة على مستوى العلاقات الانسانية وفصول اخرى مهم بالنسبة للكاتب ورحلتة مع الكتابة من استكشاف للذات ونجاحات وفشل

الكتاب لة ترجمة باللغة العربية لواحد عراقى مش متذكر اسمة لكن الترجمة صادرة فى السبعينات مشكلة الترجمة ان اسماء الافلام اللى مذكورة فى امثلة الكاتب فى النسخة القديم اغلبها مش معروف دلوقتى لكن فى النسخة الجديدة اغلب الافلام معروفة
Yasser Himony
الكتاب رائع وكعادة الكتب الأمريكية تهتم بالتفاصيل وإن كانت دقيقة ولكنها تميز المحترف عن الهاوي.لقد وجدت أن الأمر يختلف بطريقة كبيرة ما بين كتابة سيناريو لفيلم وكتابة رواية أدبية من حيث التكنيك والفنيات وهو ما ركز الكاتب عليه في كتابه إذ سرد أمثلة عدة من الأفلام ووضح الطرق العملية في كتابة سيناريو وحتى اقتراحاته التي بناها على خبرة واسعة في المجال.
يعاب فقط على الكتاب الترجمة العربية الغير جيدة وأعتبرها حرفية وذلك أمر خاطيء خصوصا أن الإنجليزية هنا هي أمريكية التي تعتمد على العبارات المجازية التي ق
I thought this book was going to be a technical guide to formatting a screenplay.

I finished this book having no idea how to do that. Field spends half a chapter on formatting. Thank God for software like CeltX.

But I finished this book with a greater appreciation of the writing process. I now have a better idea of how movies are written, and thus a much more technical appreciation of the writer's creative decisions when I watch movies.

All movies are structured identically: 3 acts -- first, a kick
Louis Kirby
Nov 13, 2013 Louis Kirby rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all fiction writers
Shelves: about-writing
I first wrote shadow of Eden as a Screenplay and this book is on the must read list for screenwriters. Well, I must say, it is extremely useful for novelists as well. I learned several key things from this book: first: get in late, get out early. Second: make the scenes visual Third: every story had bones, structure. Know your structure and build on it. Otherwise you'll have no direction, no form and the reader will sense it in three pages and bolt - or give you a bad review.

Bonus: every movie

It's a warm summer night. Crickets chirp rapidly. All the windows in the house are dark, except one on the second floor.



A woman is sleeping silently on the right side of the bed. On the floor, a small dog is curled up and lightly snores. A man is reading on the left side of the bed by the reading light.

THE MAN, a nerdy-type with glasses and a stack of books on his bedsi
Sep 08, 2007 sallie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: screenwriters or film enthusiasts
structure is a beautiful thing. i carried this book around in my purse for weeks.
Amanda Erickson
I read this book because it was recommended in The DC comics guide to writing comics.

The idea was to use this book to help solidify an idea for a comic I'm wanting to create.

I'm really not sure how to review this book.

It's really bad in some areas and really good in others.

It has a few tips and tricks that I found helpful and a nice breakdown/description of all the different screenplay formatting and camera direction.

There are a couple exercises that are suggested that might be helpful (I haven
Toby Elliott
i'm going to say i've finished this book, though i skipped a lot of chapter 14 & left 15 for some other day, or need of reference.

syd field is a no-nonsense, bridle no shit, formulaic bastard - but this book is an indispensable reference to those who are, actually writing a screenplay. granted, this is more for those who are "writing to sell a screenplay to Hollywood" than those who want to experiment with the form. mr. field is relentlessly capitalist about his notion of a 'good script,' a
The author is truly a genius. This book is a guidebook written to teach the reader. I took copious notes while reading the book that I later highlighted in a notebook. The only negative thing I can think of is that because of the many examples of movies cited in his book, I started watching more movies than writing and watched them all with a critical eye. Now, It's more challenging than ever to enjoy a movie as I am always thinking, was that the best way to show this, should this be omitted, wa ...more
Jay Michaels
Screenplay (1994) by Syd Field (3rd Edition).

"When cotton candy goes bad..."

I thought Fred Saberhagen's _Berserker Fury_ (1997) was redundant. While Syd Field's _Screenplay_ offers plenty of reassurance to the wanna-be screenwriter, pretty soon I got the point and was tired of all the cheerleading.

Field may indeed have something substantial to say, but I couldn't help wondering if this book started out as photocopied handouts (since Field apparently taught at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College)
S. Willett
Even if I never write the screenplay, this book gave me a greater insight into writing in general. Learning about Plot Points enriched my idea of an outline giving me a better handle on my current work in progress.

I highly recommend this book to students and writers.
Tiago Germano
Sempre ouvia falar que, mais de 30 anos depois da sua publicação, num meio de revoluções por minuto como o cinema, o manual de Field continuava sendo uma bíblia. Ou que seu modelo de contar uma história, inspirado nos três atos aristotélicos, era de grande ajuda também para a literatura. Foi o que conferi, com o DVD de "Chinatown" a tiracolo. Muita coisa já conhecia de livros que o citavam. De novo, destaco o último capítulo, que trata da relação com os agentes literários (aparentemente são eles ...more
For those who want to learn how to produce salable screenplays, Syd Field's Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting is indispensable. The information is basic, streamlined, and helps a writer bake the creative cake. A recipe is what the book boils down to, really; it's very formulaic. In that sense it comes across as sterile at times...a little bland. The reader will probably think there must be more to it that this, and there is. Lots more. But if a writer doesn't get these basic things ri ...more
You can tell Syd Field was a teacher because he repeated himself several times in the book... which worked because I thought "Oh, that might be important. I should write that down." ;) I took about 12 pages of notes for the 309 page book. A good portion of what he's said I've heard before but it's great to have it drilled into my head until it can become second nature. The main difference in his writing style is the note cards idea. I write an outline. He claimed you don't have the freedom to mo ...more
Maicon Vollzin
Apesar de estar defasado em termos temporais, ainda é um dos livros mais utilizados para se tirar mecanismos de análise de roteiros. É engraçado e nostálgico a parte em que o autor explica sobre a utilização do computador e de alguns softwares que nem existem mais. Tirando essa pequena desfazem, ainda é um bom livro —porém pessimamente traduzido por alguém que não sabia os termos técnicos corretos (acredito que eles não tenham mudado tanto desde o lançamento da versão traduzida que li), usando, ...more
Considered one of the preeminent books on screenwriting, I bought the third edition of Screenplay many, many years ago and never read it.

Question: While I know screenwriting is different than “prose” writing, it’s fair to judge a book about writing that isn’t uniformly well-written, right?

I finished this book several days ago, and I don’t think it’s a good thing that the most memorable part of the book, for me, is the chapter on computers (I read the Third Edition). My, how very much things have
عزت أمين

نصيحة..أقرأ هذا الكتاب مرتين على الأقل قبل أن تكتب
أى سيناريو
سيد فيلد للسيناريست كنيوتن للفيزائى
Rai Yuvraj
Wonderful book. A filmmaker's lifetime companion.
Rachel Frank
This is a classic and go to book for the beginning screenwriter. Syd covers all of the basics with clear examples from classic and some modern movies. I think my favorite part was about outlining and note cards. This provided me with a solid structure to build off of. Only part I didn't care for was the emphasis placed on the screenplay Chinatown. I know this is screenplay is treated as God like, but I found it not to my taste and had to struggle to force myself to read it. Thankfully there were ...more
Omar Shehab
A must for anyone who wants to appreciate film better.
This is the second of the books I've read on Screenwriting, and like Save the Cat, it has what is to me a peculiar tone. Both books treat this writing screenplay things as kind of a compulsion, in ways that are and aren't striking-- like, of course writing something for no one to read is a compulsion, but that revelation hasn't quite hit the screenwriters yet. Or something. But where Nelson in his book seems very interested in understanding what the audience wants when you write the screenplay, ...more
Travis McClain
My interest in both writing and in film led me to buy a copy of this when I happened upon a used copy at Half Price Books awhile back. I went into it hoping to find at least one new insight into both worlds. I think I did. Field described the process of using index cards to break down the progression of scenes, and I think I'm going to try that either with my next novel or possibly with a screenplay.

The big takeaway, of course, is Field's paradigm, referred to throughout the book: Act I, which c
De pionier in scenariohandboeken. Hij volgt de klassieke verhaalanalyses (drie act-structuur van Aristoteles bv) en heeft heel wat scenario-'regels' voor het eerst geformuleerd of door analyses van 'goede' en 'slechte' scenario's zelf bedacht. Het boek is erg strak qua regelgeverij. Field lijkt vaak te zeggen: 'zo en niet anders' en veel van zijn dingen zijn door sommige films gewoon voorbijgestreefd. In deze revised edition lijkt hij af te zwakken, maar hij blijft erbij dat op alle goede scenar ...more
Raven Rakia
So yeah, this book gives you a foundation to write your screenplay...but it also can be super annoying to read. I don't think this is a well-written how-to book (and there ARE well-written ones like "In The Blink of An Eye"). This book was obviously not proofread well and was just put out on the shelves as soon as possible because they knew it would make sales. This book had some good tips/suggestions for screenwriting but this 300+ page book could've easily been written in a 35 page PDF guide. ...more
Dan Quigley
This book is indispensable to anyone who wants to write screenplays. Syd Field breaks a monumental task down into accomplishable chunks and provides the structure which a screenwriter can (or should) follow in order to do it. Some people will call Field's advice "writing to formula" and claim he is ruining creativity. I find it easier and better to work from a template, such as the one Syd Field to a large extent provides. Writing fiction is hard. It is enough of a challenge to bring creative ar ...more
Another university screenwriting book I found to be very helpful. Written by a "guru" of screenwriting with decades of teaching under his belt, 'Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting' is, as such, considered to be the bible on how to write for films. Even professional writers such as Anna Hamilton Phelan, Frank Pierson, and James Cameron have benefited from it.

In simple steps Syd Field discusses:

What is a Screenplay?

The Subject

Creating Characters and building their arcs

Endings and Beginni
This book is my bible! We used it as our textbook in my intro to screenwriting class and although parts of this book are subjective, it's ultimately incredibly helpful and useful. It's a good read to understand the basics and general, concrete rules of screenwriting (as far as I know). Even after my screenwriting class has ended, I still use this book as a source for critical media analysis papers that I end up writing for different classes. Thank you, Syd Field.
Deanna Chrones
Gives the quintessential overview of screenplay structure, which assists in both writing screenplays and simply enjoying films. He draws from that which the ancient Greek playwrights established. I do, however, wish he had updated this edition with more films that are current, but of course, that's not possible now that's gone. Still, in my opinion, this is the first and most important book aspiring screenwriters should read. Deanna Chrones
Kathryn Moore
If I was going to write a screenplay I'd BUY this book! (I found it in my local library.) Even as a novelist, I found it's content quite useful. It's focus on the three-part story structure translates perfectly to well-structured novels and it's typically novels that already have a sound three-part structure that are more likely to be made into movies. Something I will definitely keep in mind as I continue writing to that end.
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