Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect / Edition 2

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The only screenwriting book that includes a DVD that contains performances of the short films and screenplays that are featured in the book!

The beauty and power of any story lies in its ability to connect to the reader, listener, or observer. Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect is the first screenwriting guide to introduce connection as an essential, although essentially overlooked, aspect of creating stories for the screen and of the screenwriting process itself. Written with clarity and humor, this book teaches the craft of writing short screenplays by guiding the student through carefully focused writing exercises of increasing length and complexity. Eight award-winning student screenplays are included for illustration and inspiration.

The text is divided into three parts. Part one focuses on preparing to write by means of exercises designed to help students think more deeply about the screenwriter's purposes; their own unique vision, material and process; and finally about what screenplays are at their simplest and most profound level—a pattern of human change, created from specific moments of change—discoveries and decisions.

Part two teaches students how to craft an effective pattern of human change. It guides them through the writing and re-writing of "Five (Not So Easy) Pieces"—five short screenplays of increasing length and complexity—focusing on a specific principle of dramatic technique: The Discovery, The Decision, The Boxing Match, The Improbable Connection, and The Long Short Screenplay.

Part Three presents the five screenplays used throughout the book to illustrate the dramatic principles that have been discussed, and includes interviews with the screenwriters, a look at where they are now and what they are doing, and brief discussion of how each film evolved.

Audience: Students in screenwriting courses, primarily in film/video. Secondary market is aspiring screen writer.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* The only screenwriting book that includes a DVD that contains performances of the short films and screenplays that are featured in the book!

Praise for the first edition:
"In this beautifully written and inspiring book, Claudia Johnson leads the reader through the process of writing the short film, along the way illuminating something much bigger—how to write great drama in any form. A very accessible book, well-researched and full of original thinking, Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect adds an important part to the literature of screenwriting and filmmaking, and will undoubtedly lead to some great short films."
- Linda Seger, author, Making a Good Script Great

"Crafting Short Screenplays that Connect would make a good addition to any screenwriter's library...a very accessible book for aspiring screenwriters." - Videomaker

"Whether you want to write short screenplays because you want some practice before you go the distance, or because it's an assignment for your film class, 'Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect' is for you.It is explicit in its detail and direction. What is perhaps the most unique part of this guide is the fact that it contains five short screenplays that illustrate dramatic principles she teaches."
- Jason Antebi, Done Deal (

'My students respond well to her emphasis on connection being as important as conflict. They seem to be inspired to write more compelling work by the less academic/more personally explorative tone.' -Saul Fussiner, Hunter College Film & Media

Praise for the second edition:

"If you are interested in making short films, buy this book...This book is written with authority, the voice of experience and, more importantly, with love and humour, drawing in experiences from other screenwriters along the way." - Focus magazine

'I am pleased to see a screenplay book which finds an alternative to placing conventional conflict and structure at the center of the writing universe! The emphasis on first finding emotional connection between the author and screenplay and then the developing the connection between the screenplay and audience is very fresh and creativity-enhancing." - Mick Hurbis-Cherrier, Hunter College, City University of New York

'I chose this book because it reflects what I believe about scriptwriting—that the technical aspects can always be fixed, but that without a story that has heart and meaning, technical competency doesn't matter.' - Anne Orwin, School of Film and Animation, Rochester Institute of Technology

'Johnson's book is openly addresses the 'groove' that traditional Hollywood narrative has worn into our minds and imaginations and provides real ways to go beyond these cliches to write more emotionally impactful stories.' M. Heather Hartley, Pennsylvania State University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780240806419
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 4.80 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Florida State University Screenwriter in Residence Claudia Hunter Johnson, Ph.D. has written numerous screenplays for feature film and television productions, including two documentary specials commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts. Her last screenplay, Obscenity (co-written with Matt Stevens), was a finalist for the 1997 Sundance Screenwriters Lab. She has written several award-winning full-length and one-act plays. Her many awards include the Lorraine Hansberry Award, American National Theatre West Award, and Academy Award. In 1993, she won the inaugural PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award for her campaign to restore banned literary classics to high school classrooms in Florida. Her widely acclaimed book, Stifled Laughter: One Woman's Story About Fighting Censorship, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Power and Importance of Human Connection
Part I: Preparing to Write the Short Screenplay
Chapter 1: Connecting to Purpose
Only Connect
The Screenplay Paradox
Chapter 2: Connecting to Self
Le Menu
Depart the Donnee
Chapter 3: Connecting to Process
The Space-Time Conundrum
Method in Your Madness
Creating Rituals
Taking Care of Yourself
Just Do It
Chapter 4: Connecting to Screenplays
Surface and Deep Action
Making Change
The Mood Exersize
The Pearl in the Oyster
Emotional Flow
Everything You Need to Know You Can Learn From City Lights
Demystifying Format
Chapter 5: Connecting to Collaboration
Top Ten Reasons to Write With a Partner
Finding the Right Writing Partner
The Space-Time Conundrum
Co-Drafting the Script
Dealing With Disagreements
Part II: Five (Not So) Easy Screenplays
Chapter 6: The Discovery
The First Screenplay - The Discovery
Developing Character
Developing Story and Structure
Drafting the Screenplay
Rewriting the Screenplay
Chapter 7: The Decision
The Second Screenplay - The Decision
Choosing an Idea
Developing Character
Developing Story and Structure
Drafting the Screenplay
Rewriting the Screenplay
Chapter 8: The Boxing Match
The Third Screenplay - The Boxing Match
Choosing an Idea
Developing Character
Developing Story and Structure
Drafting the Screenplay
Rewriting the Screenplay
Chapter 9: The Improbable Connection
The Fourth Screenplay - The Improbable Connection
Choosing an Idea
Developing Character
Developing Story and Structure
Drafting the Screenplay
Rewriting the Screenplay
Chapter 10: The Long Short Screenplay
The Fifth Screenplay - The Long Short Screenplay
Choosing an Idea
Developing Character
Developing Story and Structure
Drafting the Screenplay
Rewriting the Screenplay
Part III: Seven Screenplays that Make it Look Easy
Chapter 11: Kosher (by Aimee Barth)
Chapter 12: My Josephine (by Barry Jenkins)
Chapter 13: A Work in Progress (by Wes Ball)
Chapter 14: Lena's Spaghetti (by Rachel Witenstein)
Chapter 15: Cool Breeze and Buzz (by Lani Sciandra)
Chapter 16: The Making of "Killer Kite" (story
Matt Stevens, screenplay by Robert S. Gray)
Chapter 17: Slow Dancin' Down the Aisles of the
Quickcheck (by Thomas Wade Jackson)
Chapter 18: Conclusion
Appendix A: Available Screenwriting Software
Appendix B: Films Referenced
Appendix C: Further Reading

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