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The Art Of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in…
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The Art Of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of… (original 1946; edition 1972)

by Lajos Egri (Author)

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The Art of Dramatic Writing is a concise guide to all forms of creative writing, from premise to characters to plot.
Member:oafking
Title:The Art Of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives
Authors:Lajos Egri (Author)
Info:Touchstone (1972), Edition: Revised, 320 pages
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The Art of Dramatic Writing; Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives by Lajos Egri (1946)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
While this book is about plays, it's still useful for all writing forms. One of my top writing recommendations. ( )
  pgSundling | Apr 30, 2019 |
seed of drama = conflict



[ this was the textbook at both ucla & sc when spielberg, copolla, lucas, etc. were at film school ] ( )
  nobodhi | Apr 8, 2013 |
Egri describes premise, character, and conflict as the essential elements - and the heart - of any play. He espouses an approach to play-writing “based on the natural law of dialectics” rather than instinct.

Using several examples, Egri analyzes what makes plays “good” or “bad.” There’s a lot of good material here toward writing a truthful, character-driven play that’s honest to its characters, actors, and the audience. ( )
  Hagelstein | Jul 26, 2012 |
A classic which I have come to late (both for it and for me). Of course, reading in the 21st century, you have to make some allowances for a text that was first published in the 1940s - I found the mock Q & As with an anonymous earnest playwright a little reminiscent of government-sponsored information films of the 40s and 50s, and nostalgically amusing for that - and you have to ignore the ingrained sexism which is also of its time, and the general tone of top-down pedantry; but it is a mark of how good this book is that it is possible to swerve around all of these historic relics and still find a good route map to effective playwriting.

I found the chapters on Premise and Character especially useful - refreshing rather than illuminating for someone who has read other guides to writing drama, but worthwhile for all that, and very practical if a mite prescriptive. The case studies too are generally well done, not least Ibsen's 'The Doll's House', a particular favourite of Egri's which he returns to frequently to illustrate points of character development and stagecraft. It's such a good example that I am now re-reading the play to study it further and enjoy it again.

The subtitle of 'The Art of Dramatic Writing': Its Basis In The Creative Interpretation Of Human Motives summarises Egri's basic thesis very well - the 1940s fascination with psychology post-Freud is evident - and it more or less stands the test of time.

Don't make this the only book you read if you are serious about writing plays, but by no means neglect it. ( )
  Davidgnp | May 16, 2012 |
Egri writes clearly and presents his case for the fundamentals of drama, using examples from then-contemporary plays. He argues that good drama has a premise and strong characters in inevitable conflict with each other with believable emotional transitions. He contradicts Aristotle, who claimed in the ´Poetics´ that plot precedes character.

This work sounds convincing, and has stayed in print for a long time. Certainly it contains some sound principles. However I´m not entirely convinced. The tone is a little bit arrogant at times, from the use of the unexplained plural or royal ´we´', to the little dialogue sections of the book where the author responds authoritatively to an anonymous questioner. I´m not a fan of the dialogue form in general, though I suppose a book about dramatic writing may be an appropriate place for it. And it may be just my ignorance or cultural backwardness, but I´d only ever seen or heard of a handful of the plays Egri refers to in this work -- either the ones he approved of or otherwise. Fortunately he provides a synopsis of several of the plays as an appendix. ( )
  questbird | Aug 11, 2011 |
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