Screenwriting Books You Need to Read – Top Ten List

screenwriting books, screenplay, screenwriter, david flores, indie film hustle, independent film, indie film

Top Ten Screenwriting Books You Need to Read

 

11) 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. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

 

 

 


 

22) Story: by Robert McKee (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

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. Also check out Robert McKee’s FREE MASTER CLASS.

 

 



 

3) The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Voglerwriter journey

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 writingsabout 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? (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

 

 

 


 

Making-A-Good-Script-Great-Screenwriters-Books4) Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger

Seger’s book I found as a great companion piece to Syd Field’s Screenplay. What I particularly like from this book is her method of ramping up conflict by the use of “obstacles,” “compilations,” and “reversals.” Also check out Linda’s amazing podcast interview here: Making a Good Script Great with Linda Seger (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

 

 

 

 


 

55) 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. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

 


Related: Why You Might Not Need a Screenplay to Make a GREAT Feature Film


Shonda Rhimes Masterclass, Shonda Rhimes, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice, How to Get Away with Murder, The Catch, Television Writing, TV Writing,


 

66) How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flynn

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out on how to write a screenplay along comes this book to point out where you may have gotten it wrong. Despite the length of the title, it’s a quick read and VERY illuminating. As I skimmed through the examples of what not to do, I discovered what I was doing right, and most importantly what I was getting wrong. They say you learn from your mistakes, and reading this book sure helped showing how. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)



 

77) The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats by Cole Haag

This book was a required text book back when I was at film school. Some of the formatting suggestions may be a little outdated, especially if you have Final Draft or Movie Magic screenwriting software, but there’s still a ton of knowledge to be gained about proper formatting. The quickest way to spot a novice writer is by how unprofessional their script is formatted — this book shines a light on the Hollywood standard. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

 

 

 


 

88) The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier

Not only do I dig this guy’s first name, but I found his book to be more current as far as the conventions of formatting. It covers a lot of ground with how to write a screenplay and everything else that goes with being a screenwriter, like how to register your script and how to write a query letter to literary agents. It’s a broad overview, but one of the most informative screenwriting books. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

 

 



 

99) 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. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

 

 


 

 

 

1010) The 101 Habits Of Successful Screenwriters by Karl Iglesias

(FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE) 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. Also check out: Karl Iglesias’ Screenwriting Master Class Podcast

 

 

 


 

pulpBONUS: Pulp Fiction – The Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

A must read for any screenwriter. Tarantino…nuff said! These are our Top Ten Screenwriting Books You Need to Read. We hope they help you on your journey as a screenwriter. Remember just keep writing! Also check out: Dov Simens: Quentin Tarantino’s Only Film Teacher

 

 


BONUS: Some of the BEST Online Screenwriting Courses & Books available:



If you like Screenwriting Books You Need to Read – Top Ten Listthen take a listen to:
How to Write a Screenplay That Really Sellshow to write a screenplay, screenwriting, screenwriter, screenwriting courses, screenwriting books, film script, movie script, screenplay writing software, guide to scriptwriting


Tweet: Want to be a Visual #Storyteller,then these #screenwriting books are a MUST READ.
They helped me develop my craft!

David R. Flores is a writer and artist (aka Sic Monkie) based in Los Angeles. He is the creator of the comic book series Dead Future King published by Alterna Comics and Golden Apple Books.

Website: www.davidrflores.com & www.deadfutureking.com
Twitter: @drodflo @deadfutureking @sicmonkie
Tumblr: davidrflores.tumblr.com & deadfutureking.tumblr.com
Facebook: Dead Future King
Instagram: @drodflo

Enjoyed this blog post the Top Ten Screenwriting Books? Please share it in your social networks (FacebookTwitter, email etc) by using social media buttons at the side or bottom of the blog. Or post to your blog and anywhere else you feel it would be a good fit. Thanks.

I welcome thoughts and remarks on ANY of the content above in the comments section below…


Get Social with Indie Film Hustle:
Facebook: Indie Film Hustle

Twitter: @indiefilmhustle 
Instagram: @ifilmhustle

YouTube: Indie Film Hustle TV
Podcast: IFH Podcast
Indie Film School: IFH: Filmmaking Hacks

  • DE

    The list is good, but not perfect.
    1. Lajos Egri. Don’t even question why this is number one.
    2. Lajos Egri. Don’t even bat an eye why this is number two.
    3. Hamlet. Don’t even ask why, because if you have to ask why you shouldn’t be writing anyway.
    4. Techniques of Photoplay 1915
    5. Anything by Linda Seger
    6. William Goldman, Volger, Trottier, for reference
    7. Screenwriting, Blake Harris – don’t even question this. Just read it.
    8. 20 Plots and 45 Master Characters
    9. Georges Polti 36 Dramatic Situations
    10. Karl Iglesias Emotion book. Very important
    11. Read every single bad script from every local writer’s group, until your eyes bleed.

    Can’t be writer without having read bad, awful, miserable, trashy, burn-them-if-possible scripts. There is no other way. Have to read 10 bad scripts for one good script. Start a reading job with some company or a manager.

    So the first 5 books are about “character”. Shakespeare solved that for all of us. Everybody writes one form or incarnation of Shakespeare’s characters. Have to know character, have to know Shakespeare. The last set of books are books are about structure and form. Screenplays have definitive structure, and this can be learned quickly, but character takes longer. I guarantee that any first time writer will yield amazing work if they followed these books in this order. Don’t challenge me. Read them, than challenge me. Do it.

  • Pingback: August Rush: How to Write the Million Dollar Screenplay()

  • Pingback: Screenwriting Master Classes: Top Ten List - Indie Film Hustle()

  • Pingback: Charlie Kaufman: FREE Screenwriting Master Class()

  • Ray Mooney

    I would definitely add: Linda Arronson, 21st Century Screenplay

  • Pingback: Karl Iglesias Screenwriting Master Class Podcast()

  • Pingback: How to Win a Screenwriting Competition Like a Pro()

  • Pingback: How to Become a Screenwriter in Hollywood()

  • Pingback: Screenwriting Competitions: Lessons Learned()

  • Troy A. Dyer

    I would start with these…

    Wordplayer.com (Columns)
    DSM-IV & DSM-V Update
    Screenwriting 434
    An Actor Prepares
    45 Master Characters
    The Anatomy Of Story
    Ten Theories Of Human Nature
    On Directing Film: David Mamet
    The Hero With A Thousand Faces
    20 Master Plots: And How To Build Them
    Scorsese: The 85 Films You Need To See
    Scorsese On Scorsese: Revised Edition
    How Not To Write A Screenplay
    Your Screenplay Sucks!

  • Pingback: Asking Yourself Question, Are You REALLY A Screenwriter?()

  • Pingback: Robert McKee: FREE Master Class on the Craft of Story()

  • Pingback: My Best Friend's Birthday: Quentin Tarantino's Lost Short Film()

  • Monica Freeman-Greene

    I would add Screenwriting From The Soul by Richard Kremlin :)!