Top 6 screenwriting books

Scriptwriting and screenwritingWhen it comes to screenwriting where do you learn the craft? Many screenwriters start out as regular writers of books, blogs and various other literary fields. It's not the most glamourised of the film industry professions but, if anything, it's the most important.

Whether you're thinking of trying your hand at writing a script or you've been at it for a number of years, here's a selection of some of the best books on screenwriting to get you off to a good start.

1) Save the Cat!: The only Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need - By Blake Snyder

The title is quite ostentatious but this book by author Blake Snyder is a fantastic look into screenwriting by a very seasoned professional. Save the Cat! takes you through the process like a cookery book, it teaches you basic rules on structure, what your hero has to do, and in what order it should happen. This book is a great manual on the inner workings of a screenplay that everyone should learn.


2) Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting - By Syd Field

Screenplay is a no-nonsense book on many aspects of screenwriting. Syd Field lays down some rules here that many producers and directors now stand by, such as why the first ten pages of a screenplay need to hook your reader into wanting to read the whole thing and maybe even produce it. This book has you covered from conception to the sale of your screenplay.


3) The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers - By Christopher Vogler

The Writers Journey is a much broader book in its teachings as it's not just aimed at screenwriters but any format of story telling. However it teaches some of the most important lessons of writing, such as the three act structure and the seven points your hero must hit during the story. A heavy but great book, especially if you want to get into writing those epics.


4) Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting - By Robert McKee

Story is a very compelling book on screenwriting and its author is a no-nonsense expert on the subject. The book shows you every screw and cog of the screenplay and then guides you on how they fit together. In effect, Story uses classic and contemporary examples to show that over a hundred years of cinema the core elements of screenwriting remain the same.


5) Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood - By William Goldman

William Goldman is one of the most highly paid and well-known script doctors and writers in Hollywood. Adventures in the Screen Trade is more of a biography showing how William Goldman became a screenwriter. It illustrates first-hand how an idea can become a commissioned script in the course of one lunch meeting or how a whole project can go under by having an actor fight over dialogue. A great learning tool based on the experiences of one of the greats.


6) Which Lie Did I Tell? - By William Goldman

This is a follow on from Adventures in the Screen Trade, which was published in 1983. In is book Goldman uses great examples on how adapting work from other sources doesn't always have to be faithful to the original work as long as it works in the format of a screenplay. The book goes on to discuss more contemporary films and even the adaptation of Goldman's published book The Princess Bride and his adaption of his own work.