“Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure” often tends to read more like a memoir of a man who worked with the legendary late great director and writer, and less like an instructional book. Author Dan O’Bannon is able to build a book that’s outside the norm of your typical screenwriting book. Author O’Bannon stresses the importance of writing a book that stands out from the shelves of screenwriting books, and while demonstrating how he sought to break the formula of screenwriting in his days of making movies, he tries to break the formula of screenwriting books in general.
Much of “Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure” is based around Dan O’Bannon’s writing experience with screenplays, and co-author Matt Lohr’s experience working with Dan O’Bannon and how he changed his life. In the process, author Dan O’Bannon hopes to change the aspiring screenwriter’s life by assisting them in breaking free from formulas and clichés and attempting to re-mold stories no matter how old hat they may be. O’Bannon took what were traditionally cheesy and clunky premises and with his own sense of style and unique storytelling, reshaped them in to classics and hit films.
Author Dan O’Bannon hopes to instill this upon the reader by exploring all angles of creative writing and what you can hope to learn from him by his anecdotes and thoughts on storytelling in general.
Much of the early portion of the book involves contributor Matt Lohr’s journey to discovering how the classic screenwriting method is accomplished, and he tens to undermine a lot of common practices in today’s screenwriting constructions, including programs that basically do the work for the writer by filling in the blanks for them. He doesn’t particularly respect them, and only suggests them for people with nothing really left to do or who aren’t truly serious about constructing a respectable screenplay. Though the book is primarily aimed toward writers who want to compose their own piece of genre work, its girth of information are also accessible toward literally anyone who wants to write a screenplay and hopes to break it out of the rut of being average or mediocre. Like all the really interesting authors, Mr. O’ Bannon doesn’t really kid the reader about screenplays.
Not every screenplay will sell, and odds are yours won’t. But getting the screenplay done and attempting to get it sold to studios will be a great mission and one that you can feel good about accomplishing. Meanwhile, the late great Dan O’Bannon applies his own thoughts on story structure and what writers can do to break out of that strict rule that the screenwriter has to follow the classic three act arc for every screenplay. If the respective reader is truly serious about following the guidelines of Dan O’Bannon and truly wants to offer a unique story, there are interesting notes per chapter, as well as exercises at the end of each chapter, that ask the reader to break down acts from their favorite films, and think about certain films in their memory that are conventional or unconventional.
It challenges the reader to find the end and beginning of each act, and how the characters themselves are challenged and or confined to certain locations and scenes, and it’s a worthy bit of foot work for anyone intent on aspiring to work at Dan O’Bannon’s level of screenwriting which was unique and commercially appealing most times. With an actual look at what Dan O’Bannon had to say about writing, his formula for screenwriting, and films in general, “Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure” is a great tool for any aspiring genre screenwriter looking for a starting point who genuinely wants to hear from the horse’s mouth how he did it and how he accomplished immortality through his work in Hollywood.
Available January 1st, 2013 from Michael Wiese Productions.