Screenwriting is one of the hardest aspects of filmmaking, which makes writers take their creative input and conform it to an solid format and structure. While its certainly easy for anyone to claim they’re a screenwriter, if they’ve written anything in the format, it takes true skill, hard work and dedication to master the art of screenwriting. Luckily for those that can’t take a course on it and just wish to get a fantastic book on what makes the process easier, Neil Landau’s The Screenwriter’s Roadmap: 21 Ways to Jumpstart Your Story is one of the most well rounded and honest looks into the process. Broken down into 21 different chapters to emphasize the process, Landau’s book manages to give the reader an insight into different techniques and tools that any screenwriter could use, no matter what genre or type of approach you’ve ever used to get your writing done.
From the very outset of the foreword, Landau’s tone is whimsical and straightforward to help the reader understand exactly what’s in store in this book. From this, Landau uses the fact that no writer is the same and that whatever style works for you, whether it be creating an outline or to simply just start writing, all of the things pointed out in each chapter are just tools, for anyone to utilize, no matter what your style. This was one of the aspects that I enjoyed the most out of this book, in that it doesn’t dictate an explicit way of making good writing by forcing its own rules upon an aspiring screenwriter. The core mechanics at hand in this book are all about the elements that make for great stories. From what makes great characters tic, to the central conflict at hand in one’s script, each of the chapters shows wonderful insight into the questions that one needs in utilizing their own creative juices to craft a screenplay.
Another wonderful addition to the book is at the end of every chapter, there are interviews with many incredible screenwriters. From Tony Gilroy to the duo of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, each of the contributors either reflect on what Landau is focusing on in the chapter or the methodology that works for them. I loved this because it showed how unbiased Landau is as the writer of this book and how much he cares about the craft. Even if other screenwriter’s didn’t work in the same way as him, he still gives them an opportunity to shed light on the form of screenwriting. There’s also exercises that are included at the end of every chapter, that cover things like writing log lines to finding inventive ways to craft dialog. All of these are absolutely beneficial in many ways and are likely to form some good habits in any aspiring screenwriter.
It’s easy to see how Mr. Landau is the Screenwriting Professor at both UCLA and USC. His knowledge is vast and extremely discernible within the pages of The Screenwriter’s Roadmap. It is absolutely one of the best books written on the subject and should be on every screenwriter’s and filmmaker’s bookshelf! Highly Recommended!