There are many books available that provide you with a guide to writing screenplays, from the concepts to the construction and the inevitable requirement of Courier font, but The Art of Screenplays – A Writer’s Guide by Robin Mukherjee, whilst not ignoring the necessity for having considered all the intrinsic elements that the writing process requires, approaches matters from a slightly different perspective. Although there are theories, ideas and exercises to keep you progressing and motivated towards realising your own storyline and character development, Mukherjee emphasises many aspects of creativity and individual expression, sometimes in a manner that can juxtapose Tarantino’s Django Unchained with similar perspectives in, say, Eastenders (one of the many shows the author has written for and which is referenced throughout the narrative) or where Scorsese’s latest film Wolf of Wall Street is discussed together with excerpts from Twelfth Night, demonstrating that nothing is totally new but all justifiably considered in a creative and artistic manner, whether in a fantastical or realistic context.
This is not a guide that is specifically about practicalities, but rather concepts and resolutions, often, as Mukherjee states, in his ‘real life’ scenarios, the work of a television script writer in what used to be defined as a kitchen sink situation in the UK. So the research in this book strikes a balance between ‘watching normal people’ and ‘reading Shakespeare’ considering time, culture and links between the old, new, respectable and shocking and how these are relevant, something Mukherjee reinforces in his understanding and integration of cultural mores that link the bard with old British cinema.
One of the central themes to this book lies with unlocking the writer’s creativity and the environment that can create artistic imagination. Mukherjee clearly elucidates this through specific authorial processes in a variety of contexts, leading to that scriptwriting panacea: concepts in structure, characterisation and story development – getting the Stuff you need for that artistic creation. These aspects of the Stuff are helpfully broken into categories of development and processing that place the writer’s work in a broader environment. So in many ways it is motivation and imagination that gets you writing in the time you might have available in which to write.
Overall then, The Art of Screenplays – A Writer’s Guide is a welcome tome which offers a practical and yet different approach to the creative process, and one which focusses on concepts and ideas and their integration into your work. It inspires the imagination and highlights the importance of artistry for the author, whether you are writing for television or feature film, irrespective of genre or marketing. This is not, then, a simple tick list to your first Hollywood paycheque but a guide on how to become a better and more creative writer.