Do you have an idea or concept that you want to share to the world but don’t know how to start?
Like many screenwriters just starting his/her first screenplay or the seasoned veteran established in the business, we all need help from time to time, and that’s where a great screenwriting book comes into play.
But what are the best books on screenwriting for beginners or the seasoned veteran on the market? What makes a screenwriting book the best, and what specific knowledge and experience can screenwriters take away from them?
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Top 10 Screenwriting Books For Beginners
The first step that screenwriters should take when they begin their writing journey is to read and study the art, craft, and business of screenwriting.
There are thousands of screenplays being pitched at any given time in the film industry, so to get a leg up on the competition, a screenwriter should be looking for tricks, shortcuts, and secret formulas in completing a shoppable screenplay.
The best screenwriting books for beginners listed below are for the screenwriter searching for wisdom, experience, knowledge, tips, and instruction that can help you hone your own style.
With the knowledge that you will gain from reading these screenwriting books, you will begin to create a “toolbox.” This toolbox will be there for when you need a fix in a problem you will face in creating that oscar winning screenplay.
These books showcase many different approaches in screenwriting, and the content collected from many of these screenwriting books will offer a full approach that best fits with your process.
One single piece of information from one book joined with another single piece from another, can help you with a problem that you may have been struggling with for months.
Here are some of the best screenwriting books for beginners that all screenwriters should take a look at.
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting
Syd Field’s books on the essential structure of emotionally satisfying screenplays have ignited lucrative careers in film and television since 1979.
This is the go to screenwriting books for many in the industry. If you watch Judd Aptow’s Masterclass on comedy writing and comedy directing, this book is part of his screenwriting toolbox.
As the first person to articulate common structural elements unique to successful movies, celebrated producer, lecturer, teacher and bestselling author Syd Field has gifted us a classic text. From concept to character, from opening scene to finished script, here are fundamental guidelines to help all screenwriters—novices and Oscar-winners—hone their craft and sell their work.
In Screenplay, Syd Field can help you discover:
- Why the first ten pages of every script are crucial to keeping professional readers’ interest
- How to visually “grab” these influential readers from page one, word one
- Why structure and character are the basic components of all narrative screenplays
- How to adapt a novel, a play, or an article into a saleable script
- Tips on protecting your work—three ways to establish legal ownership of screenplays
- Vital insights on writing authentic dialogue, crafting memorable characters, building strong yet flexible storylines (form, not formula), overcoming writer’s block, and much more
Syd Field is revered as the original master of screenplay story structure, and this guide continues to be the industry’s gold standard for learning the foundations of screenwriting.
This is one of the screenwriting books must read before starting.
View on Amazon.com ➜ Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
This book, along with James N. Frey’s The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, helped me get out of the doldrums as I contemplated draft 4 of my first novel.
Although I had pretty much worked out the plot bugs by the end of draft 3, the manuscript still seemed limp and the characterization uneven. I knew I needed a fresh take on my characters and their basic predicament — The Writer’s Journey helped me see that I already had all the elements of a great tale, but just needed to use them to better advantage.
I re-mapped the entire story using ideas from this book and could feel the characters and plot taking on new life as I created a new outline.
Half-way through draft 4 (rewritten from scratch), I feel much more in command of my story and in love with my characters. The individual scenes fit together in a way that they hadn’t in previous versions, partly because some got moved in order to create better motivation and partly because I can now see better what role secondary characters play in the story over all.
I would certainly recommend this essential screenwriting book as a tool for revitalizing a manuscript that has gone stale or gotten bogged down in the middle.
View on Amazon.com➜The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
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Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need
Here’s what started the phenomenon: the best seller, for over 15 years, that’s been used by screenwriters around the world!Blake Snyder tells all in this fast, funny and candid look inside the movie business.
“Save the Cat” is just one of many ironclad rules for making your ideas more marketable and your script more satisfying.
- The four elements of every winning logline
- The seven immutable laws of screenplay physics
- The 10 genres that every movie ever made can be categorized by, and why they’re important to your script.
- Why your Hero must serve your Idea
- Mastering the 15 Beats
- Creating the “Perfect Beast” by using The Board to map 40 scenes with conflict and emotional change
- How to get back on track with proven rules for script repair
This ultimate insider’s guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a showbiz veteran who’s proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat. Truly one of the best screenwriting books for beginners available.
View on Amazon.com➜Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need
Save the Cat!® Strikes Back: More Trouble for Screenwriters to Get into … and Out of
Blake Snyder, author of Save the Cat!®and Save the Cat!® Goes to the Movies, is back with the book countless readers and students have clamored for. Inspired by questions from his workshops, lectures, and emails, Blake listened and provides new tips, tactics, and techniques to solve your writing problems and create stories that resonate:
- The 7 warning signs you might have a great idea or not
- 2 sure-fire templates for can t-miss loglines
- The difference between structure and formula
- The Transformation Machine that allows you to track your hero s growth step-by-step
- The 5 questions to keep your story s spine straight
- The 5-Point Finale to finish any story
- The Save the Cat!® Greenlight Checklist that gets to the heart of every development issue
- The right way to hear notes, deal with problematic producers, and dive into the rewrite with the right attitude
- Why and when an agent will appear
- How to discover the potential for greatness in any story
- How to avoid panic, doubt, and self-recrimination… and what it takes to succeed and dare to achieve your dreams
- Get ready to face trouble like a pro… and strike back!
View on Amazon.com ➜ Save the Cat!® Strikes Back: More Trouble for Screenwriters to Get into … and Out of
The Hidden Tools of Comedy: The Serious Business of Being Funny
While other books give you tips on how to “write funny,” this book offers a paradigm shift in understanding the mechanics and art of comedy, and the proven, practical tools that help writers translate that understanding into successful, commercial scripts.
The Hidden Tools of Comedy unlocks the unique secrets and techniques of writing comedy. Kaplan deconstructs sequences in popular films and TV that work and don’t work, and explains what tools were used (or should have been used).
View on Amazon.com ➜The Hidden Tools of Comedy: The Serious Business of Being Funny
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The Artist’s Way Starter Kit
The Artist’s Way Starter Kit includes Cameron’s two most important Artist’s Way tools – The Artist’s Way and The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal-bound together for a bargain price. This attractive package-shrink-wrapped and with a bellyband-will inspire anyone contemplating beginning the Artist’s Way program to plunge right into this life-changing twelve-week program!
The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life. Still as vital today—or perhaps even more so—than it was when it was first published one decade ago, it is a powerfully provocative and inspiring work.
In a new introduction to the book, Julia Cameron reflects upon the impact of The Artist’s Way and describes the work she has done during the last decade and the new insights into the creative process that she has gained.
Julia Cameron keeps row after row of journals on the wooden bookcase in her writing room, all containing Morning Pages from more than twelve years of her life. The journals, she says, listen to her.
They have been company on travels, and she is indebted to them for consolation, advice, humor, sanity. Now the bestselling author of The Artist’s Way offers readers the same companion, in which we may discover ourselves, our fears and aspirations, and our life’s daily flow. Readers will find privacy, a portable writing room, where our opinions are for our own eyes.
The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal prioritize the day, providing clarity and comfort. With an introduction and instructions on how to use this journal, by Julia Cameron, readers will uncover the history of their spirits as they move their hands across the universe of their lives.
This my not be the best screenwriting books for beginners because it doesn’t help with structure, but this book will be your muse for as long as you write. I am on my third book because of the wear and tear from the first two.
View on Amazon.com ➜The Artist’s Way Starter Kit
Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time
As someone who has labored through six feature-length screenplays, I can tell you this: Pilar Alessandra’s book will help you eliminate problems BEFORE you start writing. And if you’re stupid enough to write a screenplay, that’s the best place to eliminate them.
Page sixty is where most screenplays go to die and that’s why her chapters on story, structure and outline alone are worth the price of the book, in my opinion.
Whether you are a beginner or master, there’s something in this book for you. Although if you’re just starting out and really concerned about format, I would also recommend Dave Trottier’s “The Screenwriter’s Bible.”
If you’ve got that great idea, there are no more excuses. Get this screenwriting book now off of amazon and chase your dream.
View on Amazon.com ➜Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time
Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay
Learn the secrets to writing a GREAT screenplay from a major Hollywood movie studio Story Analyst who will show you how to BLOW AWAY THE READER!
Master the structure and principles used by 95% of commercial movies by studying detailed breakdowns, or “Story Maps,” of several recent hit movies in all different genres, including The Dark Knight, The Wrestler, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Drag Me To Hell and the classics As Good As It Gets and Sunset Boulevard.
You are learning from the pros by studying their work and reading their advice.
This is NOT a formula or just another structure paradigm — it is the view from behind the desk of the people evaluating your screenplay, what they want to read and what they will buy.
With all the competition in the Hollywood marketplace, your script can’t just be good, it must be GREAT.
View on Amazon.com ➜Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay
The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting
Veteran script consultant Jill Chamberlain discovered in her work that an astounding 99 percent of first-time screenwriters don’t know how to tell a story. What the 99 percent do instead is present a situation.
In order to explain the difference, Chamberlain created the Nutshell Technique, a method whereby writers identify eight dynamic, interconnected elements that are required to successfully tell a story.
Now, for the first time, Chamberlain presents her unique method in book form with The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting. Using easy-to-follow diagrams (“nutshells”), she thoroughly explains how the Nutshell Technique can make or break a film script.
Chamberlain takes readers step-by-step through thirty classic and contemporary movies, showing how such dissimilar screenplays as Casablanca, Chinatown, Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Silver Linings Playbook, and Argo all have the same system working behind the scenes, and she teaches readers exactly how to apply these principles to their own screenwriting.
Learn the Nutshell Technique, and you’ll discover how to turn a mere situation into a truly compelling screenplay story.
View on Amazon.com ➜The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting
Robert McKee’s screenwriting workshops have earned him an international reputation for inspiring novices, refining works in progress and putting major screenwriting careers back on track.
Quincy Jones, Diane Keaton, Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, John Cleese and David Bowie are just a few of his celebrity alumni.
Writers, producers, development executives and agents all flock to his lecture series, praising it as a mesmerizing and intense learning experience.
In Story, McKee expands on the concepts he teaches in his $450 seminars (considered a must by industry insiders), providing readers with the most comprehensive, integrated explanation of the craft of writing for the screen.
No one better understands how all the elements of a screenplay fit together, and no one is better qualified to explain the “magic” of story construction and the relationship between structure and character than Robert McKee.
View on Amazon.com ➜Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting
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