© 2013

Screenwriting Poetics and the Screen Idea


Part of the Palgrave Studies in Screenwriting book series (PSIS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Ian W. Macdonald
    Pages 1-11
  3. Ian W. Macdonald
    Pages 12-35
  4. Ian W. Macdonald
    Pages 36-61
  5. Ian W. Macdonald
    Pages 62-80
  6. Ian W. Macdonald
    Pages 81-110
  7. Ian W. Macdonald
    Pages 111-131
  8. Ian W. Macdonald
    Pages 161-189
  9. Ian W. Macdonald
    Pages 190-215
  10. Ian W. Macdonald
    Pages 216-226
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 227-271

About this book


A new, original investigation into how screenwriting works; the practices, creative 'poetics' and texts that serve the screen idea. Using a range of film, media and creative theories, it includes new case studies on the successful ITV soap Emmerdale, Hitchcock's first major screenwriter and David Lean's unfinished film, Nostromo. 


film media poetics screenwriting

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Communications StudiesUniversity of LeedsUK

About the authors

Dr Ian W. Macdonald worked for the BBC, IBA, London Weekend Television, and the British Film Institute before becoming Head of the Northern Film School at Leeds Met in 1992, joining the University of Leeds in 2006. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Screenwriting and co-founder of the Screenwriting Research Network ( 

Bibliographic information


'The Emmerdale chapter is lively, informative and illuminating.' - John Whiston, Creative Director, Serial Dramas, ITV Studios

'I much enjoyed reading your searching analysis of the evolution of the Nostromo screenplay.' - A. A. Reeves, Director, David Lean Films

'Fascinating exemplary scholarship on Eliot Stannard.' - Emeritus Prof. Charles Barr, author of The English Hitchcock

'A rigorously methodical, carefully structured and closely argued explication of a wide-ranging yet particular approach to the field.' - Steven Price, Journal of Screenwriting 6.1

'For those of us involved with the teaching of screenwriting or script appreciation, Ian W. Macdonald's Screenwriting Poetics and the Screen Idea should be required reading for ourselves and our students. Apart from many other excellent qualities, it contains a tremendously useful chapter on the screenwriting manuals, in which he synthesises, with admirable clarity, their various approaches to the prevailing orthodoxy of the three act structure in only 25 pages. Hours of classroom time can now be instantly replaced with one reading from MacDonald!' - Jonathan Powell. Professor, Media Arts, Royal Holloway. Previously Head of Drama, BBC TV.