Gurus and Oscar Winners: How- to screenwriting manuals in the new cultural economy

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Screenwriting has been the subject of extensive literature in the past three decades in relation to both the techniques of the trade and the pursuit of profit and fame. This article demonstrates that how-to screenwriting manuals both feed into and exemplify the new cultural economy and the position(s) of creative labor within that economy by offering the opportunity to dream up and invent one’s own career and providing blueprints for doing so. The article draws on a critical discourse analysis study of a selection of the most popular manuals and analyzes the discursive strategies the texts deploy to concretize aspects of screenwriting labor, from story structure and formatting to pitching and rewriting. The manuals are discussed as a type of psy-technology and as a sophisticated form of professional self-help, and they are also analyzed as precarious governmental tools that shape industries, practices, and subjects but in ambiguous and chaotic ways.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalTelevision & New Media
Early online date4 Sept 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Screenwriting
  • Labour
  • Precarity


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