Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization [NOOK Book]

Overview

An insightful how-to guide for writing screenplays that uses Aristotle's great work as a guide.

Long considered the bible for storytellers, Aristotle's Poetics is a fixture of college courses on everything from fiction writing to dramatic theory. Now Michael Tierno shows how this great work can be an invaluable resource to screenwriters or anyone interested in studying plot structure. In carefully organized chapters, Tierno breaks down the ...
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Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization

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Overview

An insightful how-to guide for writing screenplays that uses Aristotle's great work as a guide.

Long considered the bible for storytellers, Aristotle's Poetics is a fixture of college courses on everything from fiction writing to dramatic theory. Now Michael Tierno shows how this great work can be an invaluable resource to screenwriters or anyone interested in studying plot structure. In carefully organized chapters, Tierno breaks down the fundamentals of screenwriting, highlighting particular aspects of Aristotle's work. Then, using examples from some of the best movies ever made, he demonstrates how to apply these ancient insights to modern-day screenwriting. This user-friendly guide covers a multitude of topics, from plotting and subplotting to dialogue and dramatic unity. Writing in a highly readable, informal tone, Tierno makes Aristotle's monumental work accessible to beginners and pros alike in areas such as screenwriting, film theory, fiction, and playwriting.
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Editorial Reviews

Variety.com
Makes the precepts accessible with easy comparisons to contemporary hits.
Publishers Weekly
This earnest how-to puts a new spin on Aristotle as the master of philosophy, calling him not only the "greatest mind in western civilization," but also the "world's first movie story analyst." Asserting that Aristotle's Poetics has become a standard for constructing movies that reach audiences (and studio heads), Tierno, a director and Miramax story analyst, shows how to apply the basics of the great work to one's own screenplay. He introduces the "Action-Idea" as the way to understand the demands of the story, and debunks the belief that, in Poetics, Aristotle mandates a three-act structure. He also lays bare how people misread Aristotle's advice to employ the "imitation of a serious action." Tierno stresses the importance of ditching subplots for a story featuring "one complete action" and constantly supports his points with examples of successful films, such as Titanic and Rosemary's Baby. The frequent capsule plot summaries of favorites including The Godfather and Gladiator make Aristotle's instructions concrete, and Tierno helpfully breaks the movies down into plot essentials. Throughout, he is respectful but informal toward Aristotle. Tierno praises Aristotle for representing "beautiful truth," although the breeziness and the eager tone he takes may, at times, put off more serious readers. Still, screenwriters looking beyond the "three-act structure" mantra will find applicable strategies, and those who dismiss Aristotle as old hat will find their perceptions set straight with Tierno's modern movie examples. Agent, Susan Crawford. (Aug. 21) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401305567
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 279,621
  • File size: 473 KB

Meet the Author

Michael Tierno is an award-winning writer/director of feature films, including the independent film Auditions. He is a story analyst for Miramax Films and teaches screenwriting seminars nationwide. He lives in New York City.
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Table of Contents

Preface xvii
Introduction: The Action-Idea 1
1. Let's Start at the Very Beginning, Middle, and End 7
2. Why You Want Your Movie to Be a Bomb! 13
3. The Subject Is an Action ... Not a Person 19
4. Forget Sub-plotting--the Best Plots Have One-Track Minds 25
5. Plot Is Soul 31
6. The Ends Are Always in the Means of the Plot 33
7. Why Is My Beautiful Plot Growing a Hand Out of Its Head? 37
8. The Four Species of Plot 41
9. What the Poetics Says About Epics Like Lord of the Rings 47
10. Destiny Is an Accident Waiting to Happen 55
11. Keep It in the Family ... The Tragic Deed 59
12. Oops! I Caused My Own Undeserved Misfortune Again 63
13. How a Little Moralizing Turned a Gladiator Gore Fest into a Best Picture 71
14. A Movie Is Long Enough, So It Ends Happy or Sad 75
15. If You're Happy and You Know It ... Time for a Reversal of Fortune and Discovery 79
16. "It Scared Me Because I Saw It Coming" ... The Rolls Royce of Complex Plots 83
17. The Devil Is in the Realistic Details of the Plot of Angel Heart 87
18. Whatever Causes the Action Better Be Up There on the Screen 93
19. A Movie Gave You a Bad Case of Pity and Fear? The Doctor Recommends a Catharsis 97
20. Action Speaks Louder Than Words, and Together They Can Speak Volumes! 101
21. The Perfect Hollywood Sad/Happy Plot versus the Perfect Poetics Sad Plot 105
22. Move Your Audience by Teaching Them What They Already Know 109
23. The Good, the Bad, and the Intermediate Hero 113
24. It's the Thought Behind the Action That Counts: Creating the Tone of Your Screenplay 117
25. How to Cheat If You Can't Hire a Whole Chorus 119
26. How to Create Characters That Are Really Really Really Alive 123
27. Dialog Is a Piece of the Action 129
28. If the Pitch Doesn't Fill Me with Horror and Pity, the Movie Won't Either 135
29. The Non-Linear Soul of Quentin Tarantino 139
30. If Your Story Were a Musical, Where Would the Numbers Be? 143
31. History Repeats Itself ... Real and Imagined 149
32. Aristotle's Take on the Importance of Drama 153
33. Aristotle Took Comedy Seriously 157
Closing Comments 163
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Every Screenwriter SHOULD read this!

    I am now reading this book for the 4th time. I am a film writer, and this is hands down one of the best books I have read covering the writing process. It is a POWERFUL read for the professional or the student. Whether you are writing a feature film, or any work of fiction, this book is an outstanding tool.

    Michael Tierno takes Aristotle's theories and then contrasts them with modern drama, quoting many of Aristotle's timeless methods that writers continue to embrace.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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