The Screenwriting Community’s Favorite Books for Scribes

I recently conducted a survey of screenwriters to learn more about what makes them tick: when do they write? Where do they write? What type of content do they find most useful? And where did they LEARN to write a screenplay? The last question was revealing: So many screenwriters never went to film school. They learned the craft by reading a ton of screenplays and screenwriting books. And you can, too. We asked the screenwriting community to name their favorite books for screenplay how-to’s, and here’s what they said, in no particular order.

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Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder

  • A candid look at the business of making movies, structure, genres, beats, and loglines, plus rules for making your script more marketable.

Screenwriter’s Bible, by David Trottier

  • Called “the bible” for a reason! This book covers just about everything you’d need to know as an aspiring or professional screenwriter.

Creating Character Arcs, by K.M. Weiland (plus associated workbooks)

  • A deep dive into how to create story beats that build realistic and compelling character arcs within a three-act structure.

The Pocket Screenwriting Guide: 120 Tips for Getting to FADE OUT, by Mario O. Moreno and Anthony Grieco

  • This guide leads you through storytelling with 120 tips, which also happens to be the standard page length for a two-hour feature film.

Anatomy of Story, by John Truby

  • Written by a Hollywood story consultant, this book draws on philosophy and mythology, offering up secrets and new techniques to build an effective narrative.

On Writing, by Stephen King

  • This memoir delves into the experiences, writing habits, and convictions from King’s storied career and work, detailing the tools that he thinks every writer should have.

Story, by Robert McKee

  • Substance, structure, style, and the principles of screenwriting make for an “intense learning experience,” according to McKee’s students.

The Hollywood Standard, by Christopher Riley

  • Using hundreds of real examples, this book walks you through formatting scripts for TV and movies.

Into the Woods, by John Yorke

  • This book investigates the heart of storytelling, showing there’s a unifying shape to the best narratives.

The Hidden Tools of Comedy, by Steve Kaplan

  • Want to understand the mechanics of comedy, and how to work comedic situations into your script in a way that translates to humor? This book is for you.

Do you have any favorites that helped your screenwriting career? Send us a tweet at @SoCreate and help us build out this list!

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