Adventures In the Screen Trade (William Goldman)

“The single most important fact, perhaps, of the entire movie industry: Nobody knows anything. Not one person knows for a certainty what’s going to work.”—William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade

Two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter and bestselling author William Goldman is no guru; he’s a screenwriting legend that has written some of cinema’s greatest features—Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride, Misery, and many, many more. He later became Hollywood’s go-to uncredited script doctor as well.

This was one of the first books that offered a personal view of not just the screenwriting trade, but working in Hollywood.

While some of those Hollywood anecdotes are dated by today’s 21st century standards and practices, perhaps the best takeaway for screenwriters is his breakdown of adapting screenplays from novels and other source material—detailing how to choose what to adapt and what not to adapt. He also includes the entire screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and uses it as a teaching tool.

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