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Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Civilisation

Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Civilisation
Your Price: $21.00 CDN
Last copy!
Author: Michael Tierno
Publisher: Hachette Books
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 167
Pub. Date: 2002
ISBN-10: 0786887400
ISBN-13: 9780786887408

About the Book:

So you wanna write a screenplay? This is not a bad thing. But before you script your life story, you might want to read Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters: Storytelling Secrets From the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization, an insightful how-to guide for writing screenplays that uses Aristotle's great work as a guide.

Michael Tierno spent several years reading for top production companies and agencies and for numerous private clients as a script analyst, or "reader," in the development office, an unsung but vital station on the studio assembly line that determines whether a top executive will ever read a submitted script. At every Hollywood studio, the reader must boil down the script to eight topics of analysis: log line, brief, plot summary, comments, idea, story, character, dialogue.

He won't divulge the titles of the hits and misses he read, but he says that in any given week he could reject a script from an Oscar-winning screenwriter, pass on a best-selling novel and recommend a script by an unknown New York University film student. "On all of them, I applied the timeless dramatic rules of Aristotle's 40-page Poetics as a template," Michael Tierno says. "I knew since I was a kid, that I wanted to make my living in film. So I read a lot of film and literary criticism, to try to understand storytelling fundamentals. And almost every critic referred to Aristotle's Poetics.

When Michael Tierno applied Poetics to modern movies like "The Godfather," "Rocky" and "Gladiator," he realized these movies worked because their writers, consciously or unconsciously, had followed the rules of drama laid down by Aristotle over 2300 years ago. "When writers stray from Aristotle's common-sense guidelines, you get bad movies," he says. "I read so many scripts, recommending or rejecting writers' work without ever meeting or speaking with them, that I felt compelled to write this book to advise people to return to basic storytelling technique. The rules are so common that writers commonly forget them, so an occasional refresher course is important."

Long considered the bible for storytellers, Aristotle's Poetics is a fixture of college courses on everything from fiction writing to dramatic theory. But Michael Tierno knew that the language and references in the 'Poetics' were dated. He shows how this great work can be an invaluable resource to screenwriters or anyone interested in studying plot structure. In carefully organized chapters, Michael Tierno breaks down the fundamentals of screenwriting, highlighting particular aspects of Aristotle's work. Then, using examples from modern movies like Titanic, Pulp Fiction, and Dead Poets Society, he demonstrates how to apply these ancient insights to modern-day screenwriting. Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters is a user-friendly guide that covers a multitude of topics, from plotting and subplotting to dialogue and dramatic unity. The result is a breezily written 167-page book that has become a film-school staple. Writing in a highly readable, informal tone, Michael Tierno makes Aristotle's monumental work accessible to beginners and pros alike in areas such as screenwriting, film theory, fiction, and playwriting.

What people say:

"Michael Tierno's Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters delivers those rare goods, rising above the usual how-to level by plumbing the philosopher's masterwork for truths relevant to today's Hollywood scribe. Enlisting 'Poetics' as a guide to dramatic writing is a well-worn tool for teachers, but Tierno makes it his own by targeting the silver screen." — Variety

"Screenwriters looking beyond the 'three-act structure' mantra will find applicable strategies, and those who dismiss Aristotle as old hat will find their perceptions set straight with Tierno's modern movie examples." — Publishers Weekly

"It's terrific. I love poetics and use it all the time." — M. J. Hyland, novelist

About the Author:

Michael Tierno is an award-winning writer and director of feature films. He earned his MFA in Film and Media Production at City College of New York. He teaches screenwriting, film theory and film production at East Carolina University. He is author of Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters.

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