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Writing Screenplays That Sell: The Complete, Step-By-Step Guide for Writing and Selling to the Movies and TV, from Story Concept to Development Deal

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  437 ratings  ·  43 reviews

The up-to-date, acclaimed guide to writing and selling screenplays to today′s film and TV markets. This is the new screenwriter′s bible.

Paperback, 325 pages
Published August 16th 1991 by CollinsRef (first published 1988)
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Theresa Alan
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I find that when I’m blocked with my writing, reading a how-to book can inspire me. I’m a novelist who only occasionally wonders if I have it in me to turn one of my manuscripts into a teleplay or screenplay. The basics of storytelling, regardless of genre, are the same. Namely, your hero needs a goal, and achieving that goal should be super hard.

This book did not inspire me to write screenplays or teleplays, but if that’s your goal, this book is a good start. The advice is helpful. For example
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
One of the earlier books on screenwriting, updated for today.

The section at the end may be useful if you want to become a wheeler and dealer in Hollywood, but the writing section didn't have much that wasn't covered in other books.
K.M. Weiland
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Have I said it before? I'll say it again. As a novelist, I love screenplay how-to. Screenwriters cut write to the heart of the issue: plot structure, character arc, and thematic oomph. Hauge builds upon the sturdy foundation of Syd Field's Screenplay and adds much emphasis to the workings of character arc and outer vs. inner conflict. He offers some great thoughts on concept and premise and finishes off with a stellar breakdown of the classic The Karate Kid. Thought-provoking stuff from start to ...more
Jennifer Newell
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great writing book! It helps if you've heard Michael Hauge speek before you read this only because you get even more detailed explanations about his story points. His website is another fantastic resource. I would recommend this book for any writer, no matter what genre. A lot of wonderful advice for novel writers as well.
Hassan AlHejaili
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This book covers, how movies used to be made back in the 90s from a screenwriter prospective.
The first parts of the book were interesting, but then the book became boring when it turned to a technical instructor proposal.
I bought the book for 1$ from a homeless guy. I gave 5$. I think now it's worth 10$, it's an okay book!
Benjamin Mitchell

Just finished my first feature screenplay and this was helpful on many levels, especially for the second draft I was working through while reading.
Mark O'Bannon
Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge
This book is not only a great primer on screenwriting, it will give the novelist a stronger idea of how stories are put together.

Knowing the components of a story are important for any writer, and while some of these subjects are covered in other books such as "The Anatomy of Story," this book will give you a clear understanding of storytelling from one of the top writing instructors in the business. This book contains a few things not seen in other
Rasha Dbakrly
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very useful detailed guidance that take you step by step through screenwriting process at professional level. Michael's writing style is an attraction that is an added value by itsefl to make reading through a very enjoyable experience. I liked it and benefited a lot from it. Highly recommend it to professional script writers and those interested of this core.
W.J. Lennox
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whether you're a screenwriter or a novelist, this incredibly useful book offers a wealth of practical advice on story concept, plot structure, character development and an in-depth section on scene writing. Through analysis of the most commercially successful films, Hauge examines the specific techniques for writing great action, on-the-nose dialogue, compelling and credible characters that illustrate how to elicit a positive emotional response from an audience/reader in order to create a story ...more
Jonathan Harris
Lots of positive-minded tips for the potential screenwriter -- particularly if you're happy to be told to watch at least 2 films and read 1 screenplay per week, as I certainly am -- but I thought it did better in the short sections on personal diligence, marketing and career focus than the main bulk on structuring a screenplay.

There are better books I feel on structure and the 'whys' of storytelling ('Into The Woods', for example) than this and I'm not sure anything is gained by reading more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm not writing a screenplay. My San Diego Writers Group calls this the "bible" of how to tell a story, so I was intrigued.

Mr. Hauge's knowledge about screen-writing can be universally applied to all forms of story-telling, and after you read this book you will never look at a movie again in the same thoughtless/entertainment way. There is a precise formula. It works. For everyone. For every best selling novel and Emmy Award winning show. Get it.

Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Hauge is a pragmatist, splitting the difference between Truby's grandiose "Anatomy of Story" and Blake Synder's cynical and lean "Save the Cat". And there's a humility in his advice, too–which is refreshing. I think this is a good introduction to aiming for commercial work.
Giovanni Ramirez
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
He knows what he's talking about. Now listen.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great source for a beginning screenwriter. Some of the references are a little outdated,but the basic information is timeless and invaluable. Recommended.
Jeremy Hung
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-film
"Everything begins with your hero’s outer motivation."
Beaver Buzz
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a phenomenal book, perfect for anyone who is new to screenwriting. It covers all of the basics perfectly.
Amanda Bridgeman
A fantastic read. Highly recommended if you have an interest in screenwriting.
Barry Gilder
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
Hollywood and Screenwriting

Is the art of screenwriting all about Hollywood and the box office? Is film no longer an art, but a formulaic do-it-like-this money-machine. I guess so...sadly. Movies cost money so have to make money. And, thus, have to reach out there to some largest common denominator. Depressing.
Jim Dooley
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
The operative word in the title is "Sell."

I had the privilege of attending one of the author's weekend seminars some years ago, and it was a worthwhile experience. His focus and the core of the technique he taught was getting someone to buy your screenplay. So, the Act construction, characterization, pacing...literally everything...centered on what Hollywood was buying. Independent filmmakers need not apply (unless they were making a horror film or some other easily established genre).

It was
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and found it quite helpful for someone who literally woke up one day and thought, "I think I'll write a screenplay."

The examples were very helpful when showing how dialogue should be written as well as how to not get stuck/hung up on not knowing how to write what you're trying to convey (hint, just write what the character(s) are truly thinking and feeling; on-the-nose dialogue). The tips were also an enormous help. Now when I watch a movie, I do analyze why certain
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was fortunate enough to attend Michael Hauge's workshop on story structure at the Romantic Times conference this year (2011). My head spun when I walked away from that seminar. I was so impressed by Michael's clarity and succinctness -- and of course, by the story principles he offered -- that I couldn't wait to put them into practice. I picked up his book immediately at the conference, and devoured it on the plane.

Even though I don't write screenplays, I used Michael's approach to developing
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't think it would be going too far to say that this book is absolutely essential for the beginning screenwriter. Michael Hauge starts takes you from the very beginning even before you have opened the word processor right through to the selling and marketing of your completed script.

Before I started reading Writing Screenplays That Sell, I had a feeling it might be a bit cumbersome to read and I thought I would probably end up putting it down after the first chapter or two but I read right
Wesley Fox
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
I am about 70% through it, so not really done. This is an excellent screenplay 101 guide, with easy to follow explanations, great examples, and summaries at the end of each chapter, similar to a textbook.

Hauge writes a practical guide, not his interpretation of what makes great movies artistically. In other words, he isn't trying to tell writers what great screenplays are, but how to write one that can be sold. It is mostly commercial, but if you want to get into screenplay writing then you have
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is Hauge before he started explaining everything in terms of the hero's journey. It's a great introduction for the neophyte screenwriter like me. In plain English, he leads the reader through concept, character development, and the three act structure, then he analyzes "The Karate Kid" in terms of what he's just taught us. Suddenly, a lot of the things I've been trying to wrap my brain around became clear.

Yes, Hauge wrote the first edition 20 years ago, but the principles still apply. And
Octavia Cade
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
I don't write screenplays. Short stories and poetry are my thing, but I saw this in the library and picked it up on impulse because I'm interested in the way other writers work in other forms/genres.

Hauge's explanations are clear, and I appreciate that he goes into why something should be done such a way. It seems like an extremely useful, highly practical guide to writing screenplays - and some of it is very, very interesting. I'd never understood the three act structure before, but I do now
Amanda Grace
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Hauge's guide to writing an effective original film through tried-and-true formulas is a must-read for any screenwriter. Peppered with sage advice, smart anectdotes and tied up with a few moments of whimsy, this book is a gift that evidences Hauge's mastery of writing to ellicit emotion while showing readers how to do the same.
Jacqui Sullivan
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I like this book a lot and will probably use it as regular reference material. Clear, instructive, especially in defining story concept and structure. Good review of internal/external motivations/conflict. Best explanation I've read on understanding theme. Would like to have seen a little more definition on screenplay format.
Mary Madigan
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book because I entered a screenplay-writing contest and wanted to know the basics. But it also helped me with the character development and structure of the novel I'm writing. There are charts for the left-brainers and ideas for the right brainers. Very useful
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty good book. I would suggest this book to friends and family, if they're interested in writing screenplays. I think this is a good way to look at things. The way he explains the structures, is very clear and the summaries do help.
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, hollywood
The first book I've ever read regarding screenwriting. Excellent book. Hauge really explains the screenwriting process, analyzes a successful movie (The Karate Kid) and explains the business side of things. I highly recommend it.
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