Book Review Tuesday – Alone in a Room: Secrets of Successful Screenwriters by John Scott Lewinski

No matter what you write, what genre you write, or your writing methods, I feel it’s always good to read about how others in the writing world approach their craft. If you are a novelist, you can still learn from screenwriters. Screenwriters can learn from playwrights. Playwrights from poets. We all have the goals to engage, entertain, and inspire, so exploring how others write in other forms is always a good idea.

Alone in a Room‘s concepts and honesty can be applied to all writers, not just screenwriters. Below is my review of the book:

It took me a while to get around to reading Alone in a Room (I’ve had it since 2004), but the other night I was thinking about the book and decided to crack it open. I wish I had done so a long time ago. John Scott Lewinski’s insights and writer interviews are filled with valuable information for both the novice and pro writer.

While the focus is on screenwriting, any writer can glean plenty of tips and tools to use in their work. Topics include dealing with deadlines, working with a partner, or working on multiple projects at once.

Lewinski finds a nice balance between giving you the hard and ugly truth about being a writer in Hollywood while keeping up the positive encouragement for you to keep on writing. 

I enjoyed this book and am surprised he hasn’t updated it to reflect the current trends in streaming, gaming, podcasts, and other avenues a writer can take. 

Despite the lack of updated material, the book still provides valuable insights and tools that any writer can use.

I recommend Alone in a Room.

What books about writing have you read and recommend? Leave a comment and let me know!

Enhancing Your Creativity

As creative people, we sometimes allow ourselves to get trapped in a particular box.  I’m a writer.  I’m an actor.  I’m a painter.  And while it’s always good to have a clear idea of what your primary creative skill and talent is, I also think it’s important to tackle other creative pursuits that can help enhance and influence what you already love to do.

If you are a screenwriter or playwright, consider taking an acting class to see how actors interpret and interact with the words on the page.  This can help you as a writer see how to make your writing clearer and subject to the interpretation you intended.  It also will help you gain a new perspective on the collaborative process that goes into filmmaking or producing a play.

I would also recommend taking a class about directing to see how a director reads and interprets a script. This can also help you as you refine your script to make sure what is being communicated is what you intend.

If you’re a novelist, you could take an improv class and develop skills that help you connect ideas and concepts quickly that can help you when writing a rough or first draft.  This can definitely help when your characters take the wheel when your writing.  One of the basic concepts of improv is the never saying no to concept that’s introduced; it’s always “Yes, and then what” instead of negating any ideas presented.  

I highly recommend the series Whose Line is it, Anyway?to see pro improv performers in action.  With practice, you can get to that level, too and enhance your writing along the way.

These are just a few examples, but it never hurts to explore an alternate skill-set that is related, or even unrelated to what you love to do creatively.  Maybe a class on cooking, or wine making, or music could give you the inspiration you need to give your primary creative pursuit an injection of excitement and energy.

I have taken acting classes, improv, and directing classes and they have definitely helped me gain greater insight into the writing process when it comes to the collaborative process.  And they’re also a lot of fun!

What types of classes or activities have you done to help enhance your primary creative interests?  Leave a comment and let me know!