I could give you a big attaboy/yougogirl pep talk about how these authors will inspire the beejesus out of you and spark your creativity and skill set to the point where the Academy just shows up at your door and hands you the damn award. But you know how this works. You’ve probably read most of these screenwriting books anyway. Read ’em again. And don’t be surprised if you find a new tip you can use on your next project.
FOR A FIRST SCREENPLAY
Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting by William Goldman
• Every time this book is read, a writer gets their wings.
The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri
Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
• I am constantly watching films looking for the “Save the cat” moment. His basic outlines and beat sheet templates are a great “cat”ch, too. And check out the other “Save the Cat” books in the series.
How to Write a Screenplay in 21 Days by Viki King
• The most fundamental way to get ‘er done.
How to Write a Selling Screenplay by Christopher Keane
The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time by Pilar Alessandra
• She’s got a great concept that really works when you’re using lack of time as an excuse to not write.
The Writer’s Guide to Writing Your Screenplay: How to Write Great Screenplays for Movies and Television by Cynthia Whitcomb
The Screenwriter’s Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script by Dave Trottier
• Great reference pages.
MANY SCREENPLAYS LATER
Getting It Write: An Insider’s Guide to a Screenwriting Career by Lee Zahavi Jessup
• The woman’s got the goods. Look her up.
Making a Good Script Great, 3rd Ed. by Linda Seger
• If screenwriters had a fairy godmother…
Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational ARC by Dara Marks
Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach by Paul Gulino.
Breakfast with Sharks: A Screenwriters Guide to Getting the Meeting, Nailing the Pitch, Signing the Deal and Navigating the Murky Waters of Hollywood by Michael Lent
The Writer Got Screwed (but didn’t have to) by Brooke A. Wharton
• The legal stuff
WHEN YOU NEED A REFRESHER
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
• You still have to read it at least once more.
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition by Christopher E. Vogler
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field
Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters, Storytelling Secrets from the Greatest Mind in Western Civilization by Michael Tierno
Writing Screenplays That Sell by Michael Hauge
• There is a twentieth anniversary of this book for a reason
Bird by Bird, Some instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
• If you’re looking for inspiration it doesn’t get better than the master.