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Screenplay by Syd Field
The first book I ever read about screenwriting. Field is the forefather of the how to for screenwriting. He cracked the code of the three act structure and paved the way for all others screenwriting gurus that would follow. As far as I know he created the terms like “turning points,” and “pinch”, and much of the language that screenwriters use to describe elements and devices used in their scripts
STORY by Robert McKee
Immortalized by the film Adaptation, McKee delves deeply into the components necessary for making a great script. I find his principles of “controlling idea” (which closely resembles Lagos Egri’s concept of “premise” in The Art of Dramatic Writing) and “gap between expectation and result” incredibly useful. I always turn to McKee’s teachings for guidance.
Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen by Robert McKee
in DIALOGUE, McKee offers the same in-depth analysis for how characters speak on the screen, on the stage, and on the page in believable and engaging ways. From Macbeth to Breaking Bad, McKee deconstructs key scenes to illustrate the strategies and techniques of dialogue. DIALOGUE applies a framework of incisive thinking to instruct the prospective writer on how to craft artful, impactful speech. Famous McKee alumni include Peter Jackson, Jane Campion, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Haggis, the writing team for Pixar, and many others.
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
You can see echoes of all the other aforementioned writers in this book. What I like about Save The Cat is that it’s a stripped down, fun read with a lot of helpful information. I especially appreciate Snyder’s Beat Sheet which shows with almost page number accuracy where to place those particular plot moments that help keep your story moving. Some might find it formulaic, but I think it functions very well and points to exactly the kind of scripts Hollywood has come to expect from writers. One of the best screenwriting books ever written.
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
Chris Vogler takes the workings of Joseph Campbell about myth and archetypes and breaks it down into easy to chew, bite size portions. What makes Campbell so special? His writings about the universal appeal of mythological tales has inspired many other storytellers to create great pieces of work with timeless resonance — does George Lucas ring a bell? See why this book has become an international best seller and a true classic. The Writer's Journey explores the powerful relationship between mythology and storytelling in a clear, concise style that's made it required reading for movie executives, screenwriters, playwrights, scholars, and fans of pop culture all over the world.
Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge
From renowned Hollywood story consultant Michael Hauge, considered “one of the most sought after lecturers and script consultants in the U.S.” by Scriptwriter magazine, comes the ultimate concept-to-deal guide for writing and selling screenplays for movies and television—now fully revised and updated for the modern screenwriter in this all new 20th anniversary edition.
Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger
Making a good script great is more than just a matter of putting a good idea on paper. It requires the working and reworking of that idea. This book takes you through the whole screenwriting process - from initial concept through final rewrite - providing specific methods that will help you craft tighter, stronger, and more saleable scripts. While retaining the invaluable insights that placed its first two editions among the all - time most popular screenwriting books, this expanded, revised, and updated third edition adds rich and important new material on dialogue, cinematic images, and point of view, as well as an interview with screenwriter Paul Haggis.
Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author's Guide to Uniting Story Structure
Have you written a story with an exciting concept and interesting characters—but it just isn’t grabbing the attention of readers or agents? It’s time to look deeper into the story beats that create realistic and compelling character arcs. Internationally published, award-winning novelist K.M. Weiland shares her acclaimed method for achieving memorable and moving character arcs in every book you write. By applying the foundation of the Three-Act Story Structure and then delving even deeper into the psychology of realistic and dynamic human change, Weiland offers a beat-by-beat checklist of character arc guidelines that flexes to fit any type of story.
Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office
Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s movies have made over a billion dollars at the box office—and now they show you how to do it yourself! This book is full of secret insider information about how to conquer the Hollywood studio system: how to write, pitch, structure, and get drunk with the best of them. Well…maybe not the best of them, but certainly the most successful. (If you’re aiming to win an Oscar, this is not the book for you!) But if you can type a little, and can read and speak English—then you too can start turning your words into stacks of money!
The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri
This is actually a book for the aspiring playwright, but most if not all the principles can apply to screenwriting. Egri gives examples of poorly constructed scenes and explains why they don’t work — then compares and contrast against scenes that do. This is one of my favorite books, and one I strongly recommend. One of the best screenwriting books out there.
The 101 Habits Of Successful Screenwriters by Karl Iglesias
Have you ever wondered how successful writers do it? If you’ve reached this point on my top ten, I would say, “of course you do!” There are good work regimens and not so constructive methods. This book gives us a glimpse into how the top Hollywood writers work, how they fight writer’s block, as well as deal with the daily grind of writing. I found it very insightful and definitely worthwhile.