The 10 Best Screenwriting Books

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This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in February of 2018. Lots of cinephiles dream of writing their own movie, and with the help of these screenwriting books, it's possible to do so. Whether you fantasize about sipping martinis by a pool in Hollywood or impressing the cool indie film crowd, or you simply want to try transforming a story into a script, you can choose from a range of methods to find one that's right for your learning style and skill level. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Into The Woods

2. The Art Of Dramatic Writing

3. Save The Cat

Editor's Notes

November 06, 2019:

One could easily make the argument that Hollywood movies have become more formulaic over the years. Whether or not you think this is a bad thing, it has resulted in an environment in which screenwriting books have a lot of the same things to say about structure. Where they have an opportunity to vary is in the understanding of how and why certain structures prevail on screen, how to build unique and compelling characters within those structures, and how to interpret your story in the context of film history in a way that can inform the particular structural tools you should apply.

The heavy hitters in this category have all remained so for many years, with some titles reaching back into the heyday of American independent cinema, so the list as a whole didn't see a big shakeup. The arrival of John Yorke's fantastic Into The Woods is an exception that forced us to remove another tome from the ranking, and we chose Making a Good Script Great for the chopping block, as it was perhaps the most remedial volume in the bunch.

The Art Of Dramatic Writing is likely the best option for character development, as it teaches writers to begin with a premise and develop their characters in relation to it, where Christopher Volger's The Writer's Journey works more from a hero's journey perspective, which — if you're not careful — can result in passive protagonists who let the story drive them, rather than the other way around.

4. "Story "by Robert McKee

5. Screenplay: The Foundations Of Screenwriting

6. The Anatomy Of Story

7. Christopher Volger's "The Writer's Journey"

8. Adventures In The Screen Trade

9. David Trottier's "The Screenwriter's Bible"

10. Your Screenplay Sucks

Daniel Imperiale
Last updated by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).

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