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Book Review: Writing Drama by Yves Lavandier

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Pencils down means pencils down, but it could also mean books up. What better time than the Writers Guild of America strike to read a tome celebrating the importance of writing?

French writer Yves Lavandier's Writing Drama: A Comprehensive Guide for Playwrights and Scriptwriters, translated from the French by Bernard Besserglik, is definitely worthy of the word tome. This is not the book for the fannish dilettante like me who is interested in what makes film and television tick but has no interest in writing or studying a screenplay.

I reviewed Alex Epstein's Crafty TV Writingand eagerly lapped up the easy-to-digest toolkit as a peek into the process; however, Writing Drama is a dense text I'd have to get academic credit for in order to read from cover to cover.

If this opening half of the opening paragraph doesn't make you put down the book and pick up a remote, you're a more dedicated reader than me, and may warm to the detail that is to follow:

The word 'drama' is of Greek origin and means 'action.' The art of drama, as defined by Aristotle, is the imitation and representation of a human action. This imitation can be presented in a theatre, an opera house, a cinema, on television, anywhere the action is seen and heard, or on radio if it is only hear and, to a lesser extent, in comic books where the action is seen but also read.

Lavandier tackles chapters on conflict and emotion, the protagonist, obstacles, characterization, structure, unity, language and creativity, dramatic irony, comedy, exposition, dialogue, effects, and composition, with a staggering array of examples from movies and television both familiar and obscure. The appendices include workshop exercises which could be useful for the individual writer or to supplement using the book a classroom text.

To order Writing Drama, visit the publisher at Le Clown & L'Enfant

About Diane Kristine Wild

  • Lorcan Dooley

    YVES LAVANDIER’S BOOK IS A SERIOUS LOOK AT DRAMA – AND FOR SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO WORK IN THE FILM INDUSTRY IT REFUSES TO REDUCE IT TO A FEW FAIRLY GLIB CLICHES. I’VE BEEN A FILM SCRIPT EDITOR FOR 15 YEARS – AND THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I’VE EVER READ (HAVING READ DOZENS). TO WRITE DRAMA ISN’T SIMPLE OR EASY, AND IT DOES A HUGE DISSERVICE TO TRY AND REDUCE ITS SCOPE – WHICH NEARLY EVER OTHER BOOK DOES.