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01/18/2001 - Book Review: Making a Good Wrier Great
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My POV
by Brian A. Wilson

BOOK REVIEW

LINDA SEGER'S LATEST MAY BE HER GREATEST

MAKING A GOOD WRITER GREAT: A CREATIVITY WORKBOOK FOR SCREENWRITERS by Linda Seger

Linda Seger's newest book, How to Make a Good Screenwriter Great: A Creativity Workbook for Screenwriters, is a tremendous effort and a smashing addition to even the most extensive industry bookshelf.
Unlike her previous books, which deconstructed the screenplay itself, Good Writer focuses on examining and developing your writing self. (This concept, as you may have noticed, seems to be the "second wave" of "screenwriting" books, but it is a good idea and this is a shining example of the genre.) Yes, that "workbook" word in the title spooked me, too. Who has time, right?
However, there's nothing to fear: most of the exercises can be done in a matter of minutes, if not just by taking a moment and thinking about them.
For example, in the book's early going, one section urges you to simply stop and reflect on when your writing flowed the best, when you feel the freshest and when you were the most excited about your work. Another invites you to write down a dream, write how you felt during it and write a scene in a script using the dream. In one chapter, Seger tells three very brief, diverse stories, then urges you to combine the three into a new story to remind us that "one of the elements of creativity is the ability to combine unlike elements."
The book charts an interesting path of exploration, feeling at once educational, exploratory, and dream-like in its own right. The more I re-read it, the better I like it. And no, I haven't done ALL the exercises!
If you happen to have, say, a broken pelvis, a pencil and paper and unlimited time, you can work through every example in rich detail. For the rest of us, the chance to do some of the drills and reading Linda's excellent insights into the writer, writing and the writing life still makes this a must-buy, must-read book.

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