Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: Your Idea Machine by William C. Martell (Screenwriting Blue Book e-book for Kindle or Nook)

Bill Martell's Secrets of Action Screenwriting (second edition is imminent. Yay!!) is one of the great practical screenwriting books of all time. But apart from this, his script tips, blog posts, articles for Script Magazine and his CD classes, Bill also has his series of 'Blue Books'. Too much material for an article, not enough for a full book release, they are perfectly suited to e-readers.

And luckily, Bill has now got round to converting the Blue Books to e-book status. Updating and expanding them in the process, and adding some bonus material, so that- hey presto - they are 'real' books after all. He's even going to finish the complete series - on his website a few of the books still have 'coming soon'-status.

Ypur Idea Machine is exactly that. Page after page is filled with techniques for generating ideas, both the Big Ones which can anchor a complete script, and the myriad small ones needed to spruce up the script. The book starts out with a list of places to look for ideas, and goes on to cover high concept in depth, conflict, techniques to use in order to make the ideas you come up with work even better. And each chapter has assignments to get you working out those idea muscles - for the more you train them, the stronger they get and the more ideas you generate. This is all inspiring, exciting material which you can return to time and again when you're stuck for inspiration.

The bonus materials include articles on High Concept and budget, the Martell method for coming up with stories, which ensures that even your most testosterone-fuelled action-fest will be rooted in the psychological realm, and the ever-present fear that someone is going to steal your idea.

Now, is the book perfect? Well, I have one caveat and two minor niggles to mention. The caveat: the book is resolutely skewed towards the commercial end of film-making. So if you're an avowed Indie-writer only interested in very small and personal stories, you can definitely use and benefit from the techniques presented here, but you may not agree with the mindset of the author.
The niggles: there are quite a lot of typos, and a few garbled sentences. Nothing major, but noticeable. And there's a bit too much verbatim repetition in the chapter on conflict.

But neither of these detract from the sheer quality of the information Bill Martell shares with the world. Every screenwriter (and let's face it, most writers of fiction in general) will benefit from reading and using this book. Getting it really is a no-brainer.

And you can purchase the book right here:

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