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Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  245 ratings  ·  15 reviews
The great challenge in writing a feature-length screenplay is sustaining audience involvement from page one through 120. Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach expounds on an often-overlooked tool that can be key in solving this problem. A screenplay can be understood as being built of sequences of about fifteen pages each, and by focusing on solving the dramatic aspects of ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 27th 2004 by Bloomsbury Academic (first published April 2004)
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Kali Srikanth
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: both novice and experienced screenwriters alike.
Recommended to Kali by: Gopi Mohan
4.5* by 5.

Gulino does not tell us why the sequence approach to writing ended but he does tell us why he believes it should be revived. Any screen-writing method that makes the writer’s task easier and focuses on the audience’s experience is worth examining.

A typical two hour film, Gulino tells us, comprises eight sequences – two in the first act, four in the second and two in the third. Each sequence is a short film which mirrors the structure of a complete film. But while complete films have co
...more
Nathaniel
Feb 11, 2007 rated it liked it
read the first chapter then skim the rest. useful.
posthuman
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Worth reading for the brutal kneecapping of Lord of the Rings alone.
Ira Livingston
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gulino writes a fascinating book with a sequence approach or mini-movies strung together in order to tell the larger story.

It seems to make the task of confronting 120 pages a little bit easier. I’ve read several books on the subject and actually went to college to get a degree in Screenwriting.

What I truly loved about this book, is that over half of the book covers films that don’t fit Gulino’s theory. However, you see that somehow by breaking his rule, but sticking with the sequence method the
...more
Glenn Mitchell
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a helpful book for screenwriters that will help them avoid a sagging story during the second act. Paul Gulino learned this approach at USC. So did Chris Soth, who markets this same approach in a more formulaic way as the Mini-Movie Method.

I enrolled in the Mini-Movie Method class from ScreenwritingU, after reading partially through this book. I dropped the class because the book is much better. The book avoids the incessant hype, the need to tie it to Joseph Campbell's idea of an heroic
...more
Maria
Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Sequencing seems to lend itself to some good approaches for sustaining audience interest in a story, however, as the author readily admits, don't get the idea that sequencing is the only useful way to look at screenplays.

I do however think this is definitely a good book to have in your screenwriting library, and I did pick up some useful techniques from it. Unlike "Story," it's pretty boring, but it does focus on taking apart scripts sequence by sequence--so if you rent the movies while reading
...more
Ramsey Ess
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Someone on here said to read the first chapter and skim the rest and they were right, so that's what I did. ...more
Jon
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I have a mixed relationship with any type of novel about writing or how to approach an artistic mean. When I read them, I always find nuggets of truth or better yet, a type of clarification in what I've done in my own works.

Expanding on that further, I usually can pick up why some movies turn out well and why even certain pieces of my own writings were successful. But then after I've reached that understanding in a how-to book - I find the remainder redundant, even petty in its analysis.

This b
...more
Brie Porter
Apr 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: screenwriting
Fragmenting films into sequences is a fantastic approach for dissecting story. Gulino elaborates to great effect on the uses of writing tools such as the dangling clause, dramatic irony, and preparation. Narrowing focus on sequences allows for the application of a three-act structure on a manageable chunk of story, setting in motion a series of dramatic questions that compound to address the overall dramatic tension. I highly recommend this book to critics and screenwriters and alike.
Matthew Siemers
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Great info in the first chapter. The rest of the book is examples.

Not sure why the author hates The Fellowship of the Ring so much.
Patrick Grizzard
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
In attempting to tackle my first feature, I found the prospect of writing eight to ten 12-15 page sequences far less daunting than writing first, second, and third acts of 30, 60, and 30 pages each. As the author points out, writing each segment with its own protagonist (and their own objective and obstacle), tension, rising action, and resolution ensures that the script as a whole is cohesive and maintains dramatic tension throughout.

That said, this book is more of an analysis of sequence stru
...more
Abner Rosenweig
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
An instant classic in the field, STSA is essential reading for any screenwriter, and helpful for novelists, too. Gulino joins Aristotle/Syd Field (3-Act) and Joseph Campbell/Chris Vogler (Mythic) by offering a third paradigm of screenplay structure, the Sequence Approach.

90% of the value of the book lies within its first 19 pages, where Gulino lays out the sequence approach and discusses its merits, in addition to a fine--no, an outstanding--primer on the basic principles of drama. The rest of t
...more
Emma Sea
Very useful book, although it ends rather abruptly. I would have liked some kind of conclusion, rather than just being dumped out of the book. The first chapter is definitely the meat of the content, but I highly recommend the analysis of Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, to get a very clear unpicking of why the film is so visually attractive and yet utterly unengaging. ...more
Nikki
Jun 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Pretty useful. It shows the structure and flow of different genres of films.
Rasha Dbakrly
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very useful and professional. Good to read!
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