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What Happens Next: A History of American Screenwriting
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What Happens Next: A History of American Screenwriting

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  95 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Screenwriters have always been viewed as Hollywood’s stepchildren. Silent-film comedy pioneer Mack Sennett forbade his screenwriters from writing anything down, for fear they’d get inflated ideas about themselves as creative artists. The great midcentury director John Ford was known to answer studio executives’ complaints that he was behind schedule by tearing a handful of ...more
ebook, 395 pages
Published October 7th 2008 by Crown Archetype (first published October 23rd 2007)
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Henry Sheppard
This is a large, dense, fascinating history of the rise and fall of screenwriters, individually and collectively, across the history of the movies. I enjoyed and recommend it, but I have to caution that it is not 'The Moon's a Balloon,' or anything like that.
Luke Devenish
This was so entertaining. And totally fascinating. Finally a book about Old and New Hollywood told from the POV of those who are always somehow left out of the picture: the writers. Or should I say, THE LONG SUFFERING writers, because, man, did they do a lot of suffering. They also got paid a lot, too, so I won't shed too many tears, but perhaps the most illuminating aspect of a book that provides so many illuminations is the section explaining the origins of the schism between writers and produ ...more
A chatty, breezy history of Hollywood through the medium of screenwriting. But this description is not to belittle it, Norman is thorough and enlightening and covers all the major shifts in moviemaking- the advent of sound films over silent, the studio system, the unionization of screenwriters, the McCarthy blacklist and auteur era. He's liberal in his use of juicy anecdote. There are also excellent portraits of wannabe screenwriters like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West and William Faulkner ...more
I told I read a lot of filmmaking books. Ok, writing. But, of course, what makes this book great is the gossip, none of which I can remember right now.

Lots of research went into this book, and it gives a great history of the rise, fall and rise of unions in Hollywood. Best quote: "I was too fucking busy, and vise versa," Dorothy Parker.

A really entertaining read of which I can remember very little. I read it in winter; perhaps that's why.
Norman's history of Hollywood from the POV of the Screenwriter provides one of the most cogent takes on the film industry. It is through the changing use of story (and storytellers) that cinema has evolved. The book plays out generally chronologically, with major sections devoted to major events and major writers, particularly those who best encapsulated a particular era or were a force unto themselves (Ben Hecht, Paddy Chayefsky).
Really cool history of the film industry from the perspective of the writer from the silent era, through talkies, the blacklist, Easy Rider days, 80's blockbusters and post modern Tarantino. The early writers were interesting characters themselves. Cool insights into the writing of Star Wars and a breakdown of Pulp Fiction.
Fascinating history. The writers so often get shorted in favor of the stars, directors and even producers. It was great to finally read a book about the industry that puts the story tellers first.
Nancy L.
Oct 25, 2007 Nancy L. marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"Of all the Christ-bitten places and businesses in the two hemispheres, [Hollywood] is the last curly kink on the pig's tail." - Stephen Vincent Benet

This book sounds great!
Mike Horne
Nice little history of Hollywood from the perspective of screenwriters. Read it for my Film Studies class. Good reading!
A fascinating book for anyone with a serious interest in the history of the film industry
Karen Krizanovich
A bit overwritten so far but hey...
Kathleen marked it as to-read
May 08, 2015
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