Thursday, May 3, 2012

For Writers and Screenwriters: Review of THE LAST WORD by Tom Lazarus

Great writing is rewriting. Most writers hear this all the time, but they may not be aware of some practical tips to put into place to do rewriting well. Tom Lazarus is a screenwriting instructor at UCLA and the writer of the movie Stigmata. Lazarus introduces over a hundred practical and immediately helpful tips for rewriting in his upcoming book THE LAST WORD: DEFINITIVE ANSWERS TO ALL YOUR SCREENWRITING QUESTIONS. I enjoy all types of writing, from nonfiction to fiction to visual storytelling such as screenwriting, so this book was a helpful and enjoyable resource for me as a writer. Though it’s targeted at screenwriting specifically, if you’re not a screenwriter, you can still learn a lot about refining stories you’re writing from Lazarus’ book.

Reading the book fells like the experience of having a writing coach in your ear, giving you helpful tips to creating your best work, and Lazarus does it in a way that communicates authority and a clear know-how for what he does. The book is structured into several short easy-to-read chapters where Lazarus shares some notes that he’s written on different screenplays that he’s read and consulted on. It was great to journey into the mind of story consultant through the book and learn from his wisdom.

Throughout the book, Lazarus continually purports that our best writing is done by rewriting and adapting and improving. It makes me think of the visual of creating a piece of clay, then shaping the clay into something profound. We have to write something complete first, then we can shape it into something beautiful, emotionally-stirring, and thought-provoking.

Some of the areas that come to mind as helpful are tips on description of what the camera sees, avoiding backstory and creating a forward-momentum plotline, avoiding using language that can’t be filmed and tears readers out of the story.

THE LAST WORD was a really enjoyable book and a valuable resource for any storyteller, but especially for screenwriters. Look for the book to release in a few months from Michael Wiese Productions.

I received this book for free for review from Michael Wiese Productions, and the opinions contained in this review are completely my own

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