Michael Wiese Productions (*), 250 pages. 2001.
|I resisted reviewing
this book because of the title - Script Magic. It's tempting for
aspiring writers to focus on the 'magic' of screenwriting (magic bullets,
magic potions, magic formulas) and forget the other elements of screenwriting:
blood, sweat and tears.
This author, Marisa D'Vari, does not take the easy way out. She breaks down the 'magic' of screenwriting into a fascinating series of think sessions and provocative exercises designed to get the writer writing.
Some readers might be attracted to this book because it appears to promise a magic solution to their script problems. However, once they are under the author's spell, instead of discovering a magic solution to their script's conundrums, I suspect they will find themselves working round the clock to write the script they always dreamed they could write. In fact, dreaming about their script is an integral part of the Script Magic process.
Intrigued yet? I was. The author has read thousands of screenplays in her 20 years experience as a story analyst, consultant and executive. Based on this experience, she has created a series of screenwriting seminars designed "to help screenwriters rediscover the joy of creative writing and reap its rewards".
This book is a distillation of those screenwriting seminars. The author challenges the reader to stimulate their subconscious mind to overcome a lifetime of negative conditioning - all those negative statements we've heard and internalised - and then suggests a detailed plan to help writers apply this provocative process to their screenwriting.
How does it work? The author describes dozens of exercises and techniques designed to circumvent the critical tendencies of the conscious mind. Some exercises are written, others require observation and interviewing. Many involve pure imagination or imaginative play. Through this combination of exercises, the writer creates what the author calls 'an evolving story outline'. This evolving outline becomes a parallel project created by the unconscious mind that the writer's conscious mind will eventually transform into the actual script outline.
The author's exercises free the write of their story's constructural constraints and encourage the writer to focus on creating detailed characters and delineating the variety of their conflicts. This focus distracts the writer from the conscious pressure to build a foolproof plot and frees them up to expand the range of choices they can make for their characters.
Many script-writing books focus on story formulas or dramatic constructs. These structural blueprints for screenplay writing can be helpful; but they can also stifle creativity and censor the human details that make a movie script unique. The Script Magic process begins with the human details and lets the strength and vitality of those details lead the writer to the eventual structure of the story.
Does it work? I'm sure tempted to try it, aren't you? Learning how to tap into the non-judgmental powers of the mind must revitalize creativity. I suspect it improves productivity as well. At the least, it probably makes the writing experience a lot more fun.
Toward the end of the book the author reveals her practical side. She applies the Script Magic techniques to improving story pitches and defining specific career goals. The final section of the book includes numerous materials and resources to help screenwriters keep current in today's competitive market: publications, books, internet resources, film libraries, classes, discussion groups, writing conferences and software.
You don't have to be 'blocked' to benefit from this lighthearted and original book. All you need to get started is the desire to write and the willingness to explore your story and your characters in a new and exciting way.