Review of Paul Guyot’s Kill the Dog – The First Book on Screenwriting to Tell You the Truth“
From Paul Guyot’s clever title to impressive resume, this is one screenwriting book I confidently and highly recommend. The book is worth buying alone for the hilarious alternate titles he created to avoid repetitively saying Save the Cat throughout. My personal favorite has to be the “gato emancipation pamphlet”. He will tell you in this book that he doesn’t have experience in writing on a sitcom, but with the amount of wit and humor laced in these pages, I’ll be the first to watch his sitcom if he ever does have one produced.
Why should you read another screenwriting book?
I can hear you saying, “I’ve already read all the ones they told me to.” Hmm…the elusive they. Who are they and why should you listen to them when it comes to writing scripts? Paul would say, “DON’T!” because they are not working professional screenwriters. Something Paul dubs as Club WPS on page 8 of the book.
That’s the very reason you should read Kill the Dog, because Paul has been a professional screenwriter for over 24 years. His book can help you unlearn the screenwriting “rules” that have been holding you and your creativity back.
When I first met Paul, he helped Anthony and me unlearn “rules” we thought we were supposed to adhere to in our own writing. He still helps, corrects, and teaches us things we don’t know. Why don’t we know them already? Because there are things you simply can’t know by reading them on the internet. There are aspects you can’t learn until you have experienced them yourself or from listening to someone who has done what you are trying to do at a professional level.
At this point in our journey we’ve been hired to write three feature scripts. Our first job was through a personal connection and a pitch we prepared for that production company. Our other two jobs were because people read our spec script and loved it. We are at the very beginning of our careers as working screenwriters. We don’t hide that. We’re proud that we are finally getting those paid opportunities. How have we done that? By writing, getting notes from other writers, rewriting, and writing some more.
We still have a lot to learn, especially from writers like Paul. That’s why we encourage you to get his book. Why wouldn’t you want to learn from someone like him? He’s the one who has been doing it successfully and consistently for many years. He’s someone who knows what it takes, like he says in his quote below:
“A career as a screenwriter is much more difficult than most imagine. Remember the first part of the book? How even folks who got their Club WPS membership cards couldn’t hold onto them? It’s really hard. It takes patience. It takes self awareness. It takes a certain amount of luck or good fortune. It takes endurance. And it takes a commitment to work at being the best screenwriter you can be. So, where do you go to find helpful not hurtful feedback on your work? Find other writers. Join a screenwriting group. Or start one of your own.”
What about all the other screenwriting books?
I’m guilty of saying I read Save the Cat, when I’ve actually only read the first few pages and skimmed over the beats. I simply said it because I thought it was a screenwriting taboo to not have the beat sheet memorized. I’ve bought all the other “required” books, but never fully read them. They always felt superficial and disconnected to the writing process, so instead of reading them, I wrote.
For me, this quote from Kill the Dog answered the reason why:
“Screenwriting cannot be taught. It must be learned. You must be autodidactic. You can only learn it from life experience paired with writing and writing and writing. In your own Voice. In your own way. I believe the only way to achieve this is by being passionate about being a writer more than you are about the potential outcome or result.”
If Paul’s thought is that screenwriting can’t be taught, then why should you buy his book?
Kill the Dog is a book that is filled with wisdom that will not only help you unlearn screenwriting “rules” that have been holding you back, but it also reveals the truth about screenwriting and the film & tv industry. Paul’s explanations on aspects of screenwriting such as “Write What You Know”, “The Writer’s Voice”, and ways to become a better writer are worth the price of the book and the time it will take to read it. P.S. His chapter on Writer’s Block is brilliant.
Paul’s experience and understanding of what it takes to have a screenwriting career are filled throughout these pages. From his Hollywood tales, to eliciting an emotional response, to the extensive rewrite process he goes through; reading his book is like pulling back the curtain. As he mentions himself, Kill the Dog will not guarantee you success as a screenwriter, but it will increase your chances of success. After reading it cover to cover, I promise, I believe that statement. This is a book worth buying for every emerging screenwriter. After you finish this book, you will have a greater understanding of what it truly takes to succeed as a screenwriter.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s the reason you should read this book from Paul himself:
“There’s a myriad of ways one can enter Club WPS, but to remain inside the velvet ropes for any significant amount of time, you must write well. Having a “killer logline” and “killer title” might get you meetings, but if you can’t write a great script, you’ll be writing your own bitter book about how everyone more successful than you sucks. My goal with this book is to do what none of the other books have done: give you the truth.”
BUY IT HERE:
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This article was written by Kaylah Cantu Screenwriter & Co-Founder of Writers Spotlight