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Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  5,043 ratings  ·  323 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 1979)
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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,043 ratings  ·  323 reviews

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Jul 09, 2015 rated it did not like it

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 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mostafa Sakr
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010
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
Richard Wu
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
If Save the Cat is like arithmetic, Screenplay is like algebra.

What’s fascinating to me is the type of person each of these books was written for, which can be gleaned from the movies recommended by the authors. Blake Snyder loves Legally Blonde and Four Christmases while Syd Field is more of an American Beauty and The Shawshank Redemption guy. Snyder wants to cash in on the mostly clueless get-rich-quick crowd whereas Field aims at aficionados who have good concepts but no idea how to execute;
T.D. Elliott
Dec 03, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Yasser Himony
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Fernando Ferreira
A única coisa que tenho a dizer sobre esse livro é que ele é fantástico e seu autor um gênio absoluto. Syd Field, não apenas domina a arte (técnica) da escrita de roteiros - técnica esta que, mutatis mutandis, se aplica a toda e qualquer escrita criativa -, como a própria psicologia da criação, ou seja, as ambigüidades, dilemas, obstáculos e dramas de todo artista, de todo aquele que tem de criar.

Acresça-se a isso o fato de que Syd Field é um expositor de mão cheia, um escritor maravilhoso que e
Jamie Grefe
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dramatic-arts
Still stands as the "foundation." It was the first screenwriting book I read, and revisiting it is like scrubbing that old knowledge back to the surface. It feels good. It feels necessary.
Louis Kirby
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Field has very specific ideas on what constitutes a good screenplay, and if you share those ideas and the philosophical assumptions that underlie them, this is potentially a very rewarding book. However, Screenplay does not allow for the existence of good screenplays that violate its underlying ideology, nor does it recognize the need for screenplays that expand the grammar of screenwriting. This is a very good travel guide to a very small world for people who don't plan on making any additional ...more
Bahareh  Mahooti
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: screenwriting
Well I wasn't goin to read the book cause I'd heard rumors about how simple the book is. But I decided to give it a try myself and there we go... the book is actually good, explaining the whole process very well especially to those who search for something fundamental about screenwriting and are about to write the two first feature scripts.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is considered a bible in the industry -- ALL Hollywood screenwriters now conform rigidly to Field's notions of screenplay structure -- and that's why I consider this book to be the Root of All Evil.
عزت أمين
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

نصيحة..أقرأ هذا الكتاب مرتين على الأقل قبل أن تكتب
أى سيناريو
سيد فيلد للسيناريست كنيوتن للفيزائى
Mar 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Мартин Касабов
Човек и добре да живее… решава да напише сценарий. Както отбелязва и самият Сид Фийлд в книгата си „Киносценарият” (изд. Колибри, 2017): „Всеки пише сценарии, от сервитьора в любимия ви бар или ресторант до шофьора на лимузина, лекаря, адвоката или барманката, сервираща лате“. С какво ще навреди още един на фона на хилядите, които се бълват всяка година? Нищо, разбира се, но откъде се започва?

Основният проблем, който измъчва и спъва повечето хора, които се наемат със задачата да разказват истори
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clear and straight to the point. Good practical knowledge and examples, still I wish Field would have used more than the same half a dozen books over and over again to prove his point. Would totally recommend for aspiring screenwriters of all ages and generations, this book has a few years on his hardcover but it still stands.
Jaycee Bond
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books
A bit repetitive but very informative. Also learned that Chinatown is the best screenplay in the world haha.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm so inspired.
Ahmad Salah
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
لن أنتهي من قرأته ، والى الأبد
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was great to understanding how and where to start writing a script although it’s lacking SOME info on formatting (font size? Etc.)
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
Psát recenzi na "učebnici" je vážně problémové – jak má člověk hodnotit něco, z čeho byste se měli učit a hodnotit to jako jakoukoli jinou prózu? Čtyři hvězdičky jsou každopádně asi takové optimum, protože ta kniha je fakt dobrá. Vážně. Dala mi hodně věcí nejen o psaní scénářů (ani jeden jsem ještě nenapsal, ale whatever), ale taktéž mi to pomohlo si uvědomit věci,k které by se daly promítnout do psaní obecně. Ode dneška si začnu uvědomovat věci schované ve filmech, které musíte mít zaryté v pod ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like film, but I don't write screenplays. Maybe I'll write one some day, though I'd much prefer to adapt my bestselling, breakout novel, whenever I actually get around to writing it ;-). But I saw an old copy of this lying in my neighborhood's "tiny library" book exchange, so I figured I'd give it a try. It sounds like Field provides some really good, basic tips on constructing and writing a screenplay. As I said, I really had no intention of writing one when I read this, but I certainly felt ...more
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-books
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
K.M. Weiland
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’ll preface by saying I’m a novelist, not a screenwriter. But I enjoyed and gleaned from this book on so many levels, not least in quenching my curiosity about some of the behind-the-scenes crafting of movies. Strictly from a novelist’s point of view, however, I found the book worthwhile for two primary reasons. 1) Its stripped-down, simple view of structure is fabulous. It allows you to see the basics of structure at a glance, break it down to manageable chunks, and realize the big picture. 2) ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best screenwriting manual that I have read! I came across it quite by accident in a used book store when I was first getting into screenwriting and it has helped me immensely. I liked the author, Syd Field, so much that I then went and purchased all his other books. If you were to only choose one of his many helpful writings, I would say this is the one to choose! This got me excited and motivated to write! I would recommend it for anyone who is either beginning in the industr ...more
Petr Herold
Ten chlápek ví, o čem mluví. Jde to poznat a kniha je nabitá informacemi. Na druhou stranu to není vždy zrovna poutavé čtení, což dokazuje i to, jak dlouho jsem se touto knihou prokousával. Navíc některé informace jsou už zastaralé a psát je do knihy, která by měla sloužit generacím je nesmyslné. Oceňuji ale spoustu rad a určitě se k některým kapitolám znovu vrátím.
Sharif Khan
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
When it comes to understanding story structure and mastering the craft of storytelling and writing cinematically - Syd Field's SCREENPLAY is on my 'top ten' bookshelf of valued story writing reference books.
S. Willett
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
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.
خالد العزيز
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
كتاب جيد جداً . وممتع . مفيد ليس فقط في السيناريو لكن في الكتابة عموماً . يبدو وكأن سد فيلد يلقي تعاليم ووصايا لا تتبدل ومن يبتعد عنها لن يحالفه النجاح وهذا عيب هذا الكتاب .
لكنه سيظل كتاباً مهماً بكل تأكيد .
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Movies you wish were books 1 3 Feb 16, 2017 12:50PM  
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Sydney Alvin Field was an American screenwriting guru who wrote several books on the subject of screenwriting. He also conducted workshops and seminars on the subject of producing salable screenplays. Hollywood film producers have increasingly used his ideas on structure as a guideline to a proposed screenplay's potential.
“Confusion is the first step toward clarity” 13 likes
“Action is character. What a person does is what he is, not what he says.” 10 likes
More quotes…