Monday, 26 January 2015

REVIEW: The Art of Screenplays: A Writer's Guide by Robin Mukherjee

Darling ones,

what shines out of this excellent and inspirational book is Robin Mukherjee's sheer enthusiasm for screenplays. Not just the writing of them but all the processes that go into their production - particularly the mining of 'stuff' (the jottings, details and miscellanea that writers accrue in their Moleskines). In other words, the 'stuff' of life and how the writer makes use of them in their dramatic output. But this is no mere 'how to' book. RM puts the art and craft of modern screenwriting into an historical context. He certainly explains the Orphic Paradigm and vertical structure in ways that didn't make me want to scream or claw my eyes out. It's witty, funny, approachable and I'm willing to bet, representative of the author's voice when he's teaching.
More than anything this book is about the philosophy of writing. Why is it that we are so thirsty for stories about ourselves, no matter what culture or age we're born into? I bet RM's a great teacher. Despite many years in the business, there's not a hint of burn-out or cynicism in this book. There are some interesting exercises that root the student in reality (using the all-important 'stuff') in order to write material that should make their work vibrant and alive. That said, I do think it's a book more suited to a writer well grounded in the essentials of writing and who already has the habit of notebook and pen. I think it's also good for the film and creative writing student for the historical and psychological aspect of writing. I thought it was a fresh and innovative way of looking at writing and it reminded me powerfully of why I love to write. You can't say fairer than that. Available here.

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