Friday, April 03, 2020

Tyler Mowery's "Practical Screenwriting"

Author: Tyler Mowery

Title: “Practical Screenwriting: Cutting Through the Noise and Focusing on What Matters
Publication:  2020, Practical Screenwriting LLC, ISBN 978-1-64826-150-3, 96 pages, 4 sections, 7 chapters.  Purchase link. 

Tyler has an interesting YouTube channel on screenwriting and offers a course, named above.  It’s very easy to see his talking points from the names of his videos.

Tyler’s philosophy is somewhat in three parts.  There is plot with the usual opportunity for ironies and surprises.  There are characters with the normally desired (often selfish) goals who face danger. 

But, finally, and most important, there are questions as to whether the characters’ goals are morally appropriate:  the events of the story will typically force the character to chance who they are in some existential way.  It isn’t hard to imagine that the current public health crisis is capable of doing that.

On p. 19 he self-references a statement he makes about the importance of understanding psychology and philosophy before taking on the mechanics of writing screenplays.

He warns writers about “shiny ideas” (lest they become an aging character’s shiny shins?) and, toward the end, he distinguishes between mystery and ambiguity.  I must say, however, that I enjoy a bit of ambiguity (I think both “Inception” and “Cloud Atlas” had ambiguity too).

I think his ideas about philosophy and morality, as challenged by an external global challenge, will map to parallel issues in a character's life and create irony, sometimes a sequence of ironic situations. 
Mowery's ideas remind me of (Canadian Harvard undergrad) John Fish, especially in the first chapter where he talks about learning to read stories.  In some ways he reminds me of Martin Goldberg (Economic Invincibility) too. 
There's one other thing here. Mowery sells this book himself. I didn't see it on Amazon.  His payment page, from a third party, worked normally and connected to Paypal.  I could place more emphasis on doing my books this way.  You get a PDF (one file) to download (rather than a Kindle file, although maybe you can get that).  In my own case, I have separate PDF's for the separate chapters of my three DADT books, so I would have to combined them to work this way.  Right now I am configured to sell hardcopy myself from my own inventory (rather clumsy now with the "lockdown").  Maybe I need to look at following his example.

Picture: Imaginary sci-fi world, my own trainset in my condo during "stay at home". 

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