Review of Denny Martin Flynn’s ‘How Not to Write a Screenplay’

I don’t usually review non-fiction (largely because I don’t read enough of it to really appreciate it) but after finishing ‘How Not to Write a Screenplay’ I felt it was about time for my first non-fiction review.

I’ve read a fair few books that claim to be able to give you the tools to be a better writer, so it was refreshing to read a screenwriting book that made no such claims. In fact, Flynn constantly says he can’t tell you how to be a better writer, that’s just something that will come with practice. What he can tell you, however, is how not to write a screenplay. And that he does remarkably well.

Flynn’s book is split into three main sections, each of which is split into manageable bite-size chunks of information which made it the easiest to digest screenwriting book that I have ever read.

What really sets Flynn’s book above all the others of a similar nature that I’ve read, is his use of screenplay excerpts. I am yet to read another screenwriting book that uses excerpts quite as well as Flynn. He explains his point, shows you an example of a bad screen play, and then an improved version, or a better screenplay excerpt. This really helps to solidify what he means by his advice and enables readers to see his advice put into practical use.

If you’re looking for a book that will magically improve the quality of your writing, this book isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for more of an in-depth guide on how to put a screenplay together, you definitely need to source yourself a copy.


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