Screenwriting From The Heart

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This engaging book takes a step-by-step approach to showing aspiring filmmakers, writers, and movie buffs just how a script is driven through the development of compelling characters.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Billboard Books; annotated edition edition (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823084191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823084197
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces

Customer Reviews

Highest Rank for Screenwriting Books

 on June 15, 2016
By Fijate Eso
I came across this book at the NYPL for the Performing Arts. I have read dozens of books on writing and screenwriting in particular and can honestly say that this book would rank as one of the most refreshing and thought-provoking ones. I love how simply and clearly the idea of the need to go back and forth from conscious thinking to subconscious thinking is explained in a step-by-step way from start to finish of the process of writing a screenplay.

Second Subtitle Says It All

6 people found this helpful.
 on August 16, 2006
By J. Adams
This is a great book, unfortunate title, but great book. It’s subtitle regarding compelling characters is on the nose – which in this case is a good thing.

feed the roots

8 people found this helpful.
 on November 25, 2000
James Ryan’s idea of writing from the heart reinforces confidence in the hearts of novice writers. As opposed to most of the other approaches which scare the novice showing that the writing process is an alien mechanism which has to be learnt from the seasoned Gurus or some institutions, rather than by intuition. Ryan demystifies the myth behind the writing process as, “there is nothing very abstract or academic about writing; it is an art form, yes, but first and foremost it is a craft.” (pp. 5) While reading the first half of the book, this starting assurance has helped me to proceed further with enthusiasm. But, somewhere along the line, I found a question which was bothering me. That is, “How do you judge your own work whether you have achieved a genuine product of your heart or synthetic product of overflowing intellect, based on this approach?” I didn’t find the answer to this question yet, but, this question is not meant as a complaint. James Ryan explains how the intangible creative flow from the heart can be triggered consciously by choosing an object. This exercise sounded very interesting and promising. Over all, this is a very useful book for both beginning writers and experienced writers.

A must for Screenwriters

17 people found this helpful.
 on March 27, 2000
At last, a book that makes sense and really gives you incredibly insights into the craft of screenwriting! Written by someone who is a professional screenwriter that teaches rather than a professional teacher. He’s a professional playwright, screenwriter, and film director. Ryan’s “field” knowledge of how to write a film bleeds through every page in this book. I read many of the books on screenwriting, Syd Fields, Linda Seger, “Alternative Scriptwriting”(couldn’t understand a page of it), McKee’s book (totally incomprehensible), only Lew Hunter’s book has the clarity of Ryan’s book, but Lew seems to be old Hollywood, and Ryan is new Indiewood. He shows you how to make films like American Beauty, Magnolia, Topsy Turvy, Fargo, Shine, Rushmore, etc., — ones that win Academy Awards. Films that break the “rules” of the Hollywood formula — the three act structure — taught by everyone, it seems. He shows you that a film can be one, two, three, or ten acts, if you like. It all depends on your purpose and what you are trying to express.

A Master Says It All

5 people found this helpful.
 on March 25, 2000
By Candyce Mason
Jim Ryan’s new book, Screenwriting From The Heart has just demystified what always seems like (or taught) as a difficult craft. The author writes clearly about the choices and theories behind character and scene development. You sense a love of creating and teaching in this book. This is a writer who is willing to share his gift. I have been writing screenplays for almost ten years now. I have taken literally dozens of screenwriting classes and read as many books. Several of those classes and books were taught and written by teachers who receive a lot of publicity. I have never received information or instruction as insightful as what Jim Ryan gave me through his book. Screenwriting From the Heart helped me finally create the unforgettable characters I have been trying to mold for years. Best of all, with the author’s practical information, I was writing scenes that felt totally honest and GOOD. No other screenwriting book or class made me feel as confident about my work. Screenwriting From the Heart is truly the best title for this book. It’s rare to find a book by a teacher who can transfer his talent as well as his love for his craft so well. This author is a master.

A must-read for anyone interested in filmmaking!

5 people found this helpful.
 on March 24, 2000
By Robert Reynolds
At last a book about the real process of screenwriting. Not just about “format” and “formula,” Screenwriting from the Heart provides a step-by-step method by which any writer– novice or veteran– can write a rich and engaging screenplay. Mr. Ryan gives a craft to practice, a path to follow, and the tools needed. Beginning with the fundamentals of storytelling, the book uses personal experience and contemporary film examples to illustrate how a writer conceives a story and develops the detail that makes complex and compelling characters that lead to first-rate films. Character development serves as the means through which a screenplay is written– rather than plot, like most screenwriting books suggest. Nurturing pointers, useful exercises, and cinematic lessons are sprinkled throughout. Buy it, digest it, mark it up, digest it again, mark it again. This book will become an old friend you’ll turn to over and over for guidance and inspiration.

Smart and Artful

9 people found this helpful.
 on July 6, 2000
By Laura Holland
I really liked this book because it helped me in so many unexpected ways. I liked how he showed me that a screenplay can be one or five acts, not just three, as the formula tells us it should be. His Free-Write exercises were just great. They actually broke me of this block I was having with my work and lead me to some very interesting places. They helped to make my work more original, which, right there, is worth the price of the book.

Well worth buying

2 people found this helpful.
 on July 17, 2004
By Lacuna
I own a variety of books on screenwriting and have to say this is one of the better ones. He writes well and, unlike some other writers on the subject, he doesn’t propose a formulaic approach.

Good for beginners

One person found this helpful.
 on January 11, 2009
By KelliB
Really enjoyed this book as a beginning screenwriter. Ryan uses a different approach other than the typical beat structure so I found it helpful as an addition to other screenwriting instruction.

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