The Way of Screenwriter by Amnon Buchbinder – a great book for all the screenwriters

If you want to be a screenwriter, I can’t recommend hardly enough this book. We read it in our class Screenwriting fundamentals with professor Veninger, and in every class, we share notes from the book. So I can hear different thoughts and perspectives from my classmates, which is excellent. My classmates are surely one of the greatest benefits of the screenwriting program – to be surrounded by such talented people is a gift. I will get to that in my posts, as it is worth it.

When I read Buchbinder’s book Way of the Screenwriter, I felt like he knew me and understood all the troubles I was going through as a (beginner) screenwriter. He guides you through the process of writing in an empathic way and helps you to learn the craft and know the writer in you much better. The book gives you lots of practical knowledge but also touches – let’s call it – the writer’s emotional state. As I just started my screenwriting journey, I appreciate the support.

As you can read on the York University site, Buchbinder was a former Chair of the Department of Cinema and Media Arts, and he played an instrumental role in developing the curriculum in the production and screenwriting programs at York University.

It is easy to relate to what Buchbinder writes:

Sometimes, the writer wakes up and finds himself far outside the castle walls. In the middle of the woods. Dark woods. The story, or at least the writer’s connection with it, has vanished. The writer doubts everything he has done, feels that he has only dreamt the passion and inspiration that have carried him so far.

I can’t tell you why this happens, but in my experience it occurs at least once, and sometimes many times, on every project. It’s not a question of if , but when.

Yes, most of the writers I know – myself included – regularly go through doubts about the work. It is a blurry line from “this is the best” to “this is the worst,” but there are also encouraging words:

Originality does not mean something has never been done; rather, it means it is being done with integrity and conviction, that it lives in the author. This authenticity is what makes for a powerful theme.

There is also plenty of craft advice that stays forever with you once you read them:

The scene is the building block of the screenplay. For something to serve as a building block, it must by definition be able to bear more than its own weight. 

Every scene should perform a crucial function with regard to the whole; at the level of the outline, this crucial function is all that matters.

So, for beginners, this book is excellent and recommended read. Take many notes; you will use them!

For York students interested in storytelling, there is a course called Biology of the Story, designed by Buchbinder.