Writing Resource 1/100: Adventures In The Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood – William Goldman

This is the first in a series of 100 – in no particular order, and covering books/ web stuff/ software/ hardware/ and anything else that might come to mind which I think are worth looking at if you’re a writer/ wannabe writer or just interested in  writing/ movies and pop culture.

Not quite an autobiography/ memoir, not quite a guide to script writing, Adventures in The Screen Trade contains one of the most over-quoted lines in the movie business- you know the one: ‘Nobody knows anything…’ – the slightly longer version continues- ‘….. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

Why classify it as a resource then?

When you’ve got someone with William Goldman‘s experience – everything from Butch and Sundance, Marathon Man, A Bridge Too Far, All the President’s Men, and on and on, you can guarantee that there’s got to be some pretty sage advice in there for any would-be writer- be it of screenplays or novels (Goldman of course, has done both).

And this book has it  in spades.

If you don’t want to write there’s still enough stuff in here to make for one of the best Hollywood reads in history – Goldman is not one to anonymise those he writes about: and while he’s effusive in his praise of most of the subjects, he’s not worried about telling it how it is when he feels it’s warranted (Dustin Hoffman was a shit on the set of Marathon Man? Yeah, you can believe that easily enough…)

If you do want to write then there are numerous reasons to have Adventures on your bookshelf or writing desk: Goldman gives  both overt and implied tips throughout the book – often at his own expense: the man appears to have little to no ego. The book also provides both inspirational and cautionary advice as to what any would-be writer can expect in a fledgling career in Hollywood, but in writing in general.

At the end of the day it’s a just great read full stop and something any writer should feel inspiration from reading – and if Adventures is very much the upside ride of the business, then Goldman is equally honest in his follow up ‘Which Lie Did I Tell?” which covers his later, generally less critically acclaimed, work and life (or rather persona non-grata status in Hollywood…)


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