Alone in a Room
Secrets of Successful Screenwriters
By John Scott Lewinski
Michael Wiese Productions, (2004) Standard Print Edition
Genre: Writing & Publishing
Reviewed by Auggie Moore - October 21, 2005
So you want to be a Hollywood screenwriter, but do you have what it takes? If you are considering trying to 'write' for Hollywood, first read Alone in a Room -
Secrets of Successful Screenwriters,
by John Scott Lewinski. In this book, Lewinski presents the hard facts about what it really takes to be a screenwriter, and how to succeed in what can be a very hard business in which to get established. Covering both movies and television, Lewinski candidly explains how the Hollywood establishment works, and the steps that a writer must go through to get noticed, as well as the process that a script goes through from its first incarnation as a rough draft to its finale as a completed picture.
For many who dream of a career as a staff writer on a sitcom, of writing the next blockbuster movie, or of working on an indie film or television drama, this book will be both an eye opener and a bit of a downer. What makes this book a bit of a downer, is that Lewinski tells the unvarnished truth about becoming a successful screenwriter. He doesn't whitewash the harsh realities, the pitfalls, or the fact that it often takes a writer with a tough skin, ability to work long hours, and a willingness to start at the bottom and work your way up.
Lewinski is a screenwriter, columnist, book author, and writer of interactive games, who has worked in Hollywood in several capacities. Basically, he's been there and done that, including working as a writer's assistant and a staff writer, in addition to being a screenwriter. Throughout this book, Lewinski interweaves his own hard won expertise with that of other writers who have succeeded in Hollywood.
In Alone in a Room, Lewinski introduces you to all the aspects of the working as a Hollywood screenwriter, from writing your spec-script and how to pitch a script to working with a partner and to choosing an agent or manager. He covers a vast array of 'how-to' topics from how to deal with creative criticism to how the industry is organized and how it works. He also tackles issues such as should you query before sending in a script, how to revise your script, dealing with rejection and writer's block, tips on working with a writing partner, and the various jobs that are available to writers such as working as a staff writer on a television show, writing for a reality show, or adapting novels into screenplays.
Lewinski's advice and insights into the industry are both fascinating and informative. However what truly makes this book extraordinary is the vast array of true-life stories and insights from other screenwriters that have been incorporated into this book. Mostly excerpts from interviews, these comments from other screenwriters not only provide sage advice from seasoned professionals, but they also serve to illustrate the points that Lewinski has made in his own narrative. Edgy and insightful, Alone in a Room is a must read for anyone interested in becoming a Hollywood screenwriter. Not only does this book provide a wealth of information and tips on how to succeed in the field, but it will also help you to decide if you really have what it takes to succeed in this fascinating, yet highly competitive, field of writing.
Screenwriting From the Heart, by James Ryan.
The Technique of the Character-Driven Screenplay: An Indispensable Guide to Developing Dramatic and Passionate Screenplays Based on Compelling Characters.
The Hollywood Standard, by Christopher Riley.
The Complete & Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style. Everything you need to know about formatting a script from setting your margins to adding shot headings.