Lew Hunter's *Screenwriting 434*

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  • Lew Hunter's *Screenwriting 434*

    Has anyone here read Screenwriting 434 by Lew Hunter? If so, what do you think?

    IMHO, it's a bit of a mystery, because Hunter apparently had a successful career as a TV writer, and yet his prose skills leave much to be desired. Many times I have to re-read his strangely-worded sentences two and three times to try and figure out what he means. And this from a man who makes a point of stressing clarity.

    Much more annoying than that, however, is that he repeatedly inserts his TV movie Fallen Angel in lists of the all time great theatrical releases, like Casablanca and Citizen Kane. He'll be listing these famous, classic films, and then suddenly his TV movie will appear in the list. What purpose does this serve? Surely he doesn't put his TV movie on a par with these legendary films?

    He also takes up half the book with one of his own TV movie scripts, ostensibly for the purpose of teaching; but I would much rather learn from a known theatrical film script that was a big hit, so I could study how the pros did it--not some unknown (albeit successful) TV writer.

    Nothing against Hunter, he was a successful TV writer and he does have some good things to say. But if he touted his own material less and yielded the floor to the master screenwriters, I think the book would be much better.

    Anyone else care to comment on this book?

  • #2
    Okay, you've convinced me. Hunter's book was the first book on screenwriting I read. Yeah, it's got some good stuff in it. But that screenplay example he gives! Houston... I mean Hunter, we have a problem.

    Here's a brief summary from what I remember. Keep in mind I'm trying to forget.

    INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT

    She writes in feces on the wall.

    CUT TO:

    INT. MENTAL WARD - NIGHT

    He opens the bathroom door.

    CUT TO:

    She looks at him. Her eyes say "yes." He washes the feces off her trembling hands. His eyes say "why."

    CUT TO:

    INT. OFFICE - NIGHT

    The administrator throws a pencil. His eyes say "I'm tired."

    And etc. IT'S LIKE CHINESE WATER TORTURE READING THAT DRIBBLE.

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    • #3
      p068.ezboard.com/fdonedea...3930.topic

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      • #4
        Lew's books suck.

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        • #5
          That guy is one of the biggest jokes out there. How he even has a teaching job at a major universtity, I'll never know.

          Like the OP said, he inserts his lame-ass script in there as a teaching tool. I can only assume that it's really in there to show you what not to do...

          I would advise not spending money to buy that crappy book.

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          • #6
            Wow...this is like the fifth thread I've seen since stopping by here where good ole' Lew takes a beating...ok, so I helped out on another thread too.:b but that's what you get when you group your own script with four legends as "essential reading". Anyway...if you've never read a single thing on screenwriting you can get something out of it, but by that same token you can also spend your 15.99 (or whatever) on something much more useful like a Linda Seger or Lajos Egrie book. In the opinion of a guy who owns entirely too many worthless screenwriting book's I recommend this on your next B&N shopping spree:

            Screenwriters bible, Trottier, for starters.

            Story, McKee, once you've got the basics figured out.

            How not to write a screenplay, Flynn, what not to do.

            If I was starting over again with SW books I'd stick with those for starters. There's dozens of other GOOD screenwriting books out there vs. those (many by college Prof. with no credits) who simply regurgetate the same basic information. If you see something you're thinking about getting I'd check here for feedback on it. No offense to any authors but a lot of the SW books out there just aren't helpful at all.

            BTW...authors using there own unsold, unproduced, hardly ever read scripts as "a great example" is painfully common.

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            • #7
              Anyway...if you've never read a single thing on screenwriting you can get something out of it, but by that same token you can also spend your 15.99 (or whatever) on something much more useful like a Linda Seger or Lajos Egrie book.
              Excellent suggestion. My two favorite authors on writing/screenwriting.

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              • #8
                Well, I think it was Lew Hunter's book that advised me to read Aristotle's Poetics and Lajos Egri's Art of Dramatic writing...

                So I thank Lew for that.

                I had difficulty assimilating all Poetic's had to say...but I recently read a book called "Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters" that put it in terms that were much easier for me to comprehend.

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                • #9
                  Re: Lew Hunter's *Screenwriting 434*

                  Originally posted by Keith Kocaine
                  Okay, you've convinced me. Hunter's book was the first book on screenwriting I read. Yeah, it's got some good stuff in it. But that screenplay example he gives! Houston... I mean Hunter, we have a problem.

                  Here's a brief summary from what I remember. Keep in mind I'm trying to forget.

                  INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT

                  She writes in feces on the wall.

                  CUT TO:

                  INT. MENTAL WARD - NIGHT

                  He opens the bathroom door.

                  CUT TO:

                  She looks at him. Her eyes say "yes." He washes the feces off her trembling hands. His eyes say "why."

                  CUT TO:

                  INT. OFFICE - NIGHT

                  The administrator throws a pencil. His eyes say "I'm tired."

                  And etc. IT'S LIKE CHINESE WATER TORTURE READING THAT DRIBBLE.
                  I just stumbled upon this post again and re-reading what this reviewer said just made me crack up.

                  Funny stuff...

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                  • #10
                    Re: Lew Hunter's *Screenwriting 434*

                    Haven't read 434, but when I was starting out I did read 101. Have to admit I thought the script example [ The Glass Hammer? - I gave the book away many moons ago] was pretty damn dull, but for a complete beginner the 'Two minute movie' section and some of the general advice was worth the bucks.
                    http://wasitsomethingiwrote.blogspot.com/

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                    • #11
                      Re: Lew Hunter's *Screenwriting 434*

                      Never read any Lew Hunter so can't judge him in particular, but is the reason why he and others like him publish their own scripts as example because they have the rights to them, and not to the really good scripts?
                      my webpage
                      my blog

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                      • #12
                        Re: Lew Hunter's *Screenwriting 434*

                        I've read 434. I took from it what I thought was helpful advice, and it gave me some things to consider. And that's all I can say about it.

                        As for why he inserts examples from his scripts and not others--I'm not sure. Field and Hauge had examples from well known scripts, as well as McKee.
                        Stupid tv. Be more funny - Homer J. Simpson

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                        • #13
                          Re: Lew Hunter's *Screenwriting 434*

                          Because it was the highest rated mow EVER! Or at least in 1992.

                          Okay, I have a soft spot for Lew. If you haven't got a clue what you are doing, or why, there are parts of 101 that make real sense. The script example is utter pants. The guy is not a good writer, but neither is Mckee.
                          http://wasitsomethingiwrote.blogspot.com/

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