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Book Review: The Wall Will Tell You by Hampton Fancher

Well known as a director and for having written the Bladerunner movies, Hampton Fancher has now come out with a non-fiction gem of a book, giving no-holds-barred advice for writers.


This may be a slim book, but it’s powerful. In his foreword, Jonathan Lethem describes the style of Fancher’s writing as ‘a sequence of zen koans in the guise of a writer’s guide’ and then goes on to describe the impact being like a brick thrown at the reader. I can’t disagree.

What this book does well is tell it like it is. No bullsh*#%ing, no buttering up the reader – just straight advice. What this book won’t do is give lengthy explanations and examples – but then it’s not meant to.

Dubbed ‘the forensics of screenwriting’, the book is split into short segments of advice. With sections titled ‘Start’, ‘Ink and Blood’, ‘Wheels’, ‘F*#k It Up’ and ‘You’, you can already build a picture of the style in this book: brutal.

It’s the visuals I love (but then, I am a self-confessed lover of metaphors). Every time I dip in and read a few pages, I find myself really thinking about how to apply the advice. Often, examples are not needed because Fancher’s way with words gets it across quick-sharp.

You may have a gift of being able to write dialogue with white, sharp teeth, but that’s nothing if your descriptions lack bite. Go quicker, don’t write everything your imagination sees – forget the fu*#ing chairs and couch and what the flowers look like. Omit!

What this book isn’t, is a how-to guide. It’s more of a compilation of wisdom. Perfect for dipping into whenever you get a spare moment, or when you’re commuting. Even reading just one of the pieces of advice can give you a little boost in the right direction when you’re stuck.

An easy-to-carry, quick-to-read screenwriting advice book unlike no other. Out March 21st!

The Forensics of Screenwriting…

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