Screenwriting is a noble pursuit, with the role of a screenwriter to create the initial seed and starting point of a dramatic narrative that will eventually take physical form. Whether that is a film, a play or even an opera. In this article, we’re going to cover some of the best screenwriting books out there.

I’m often asked what are the best books on screenwriting, so I thought an article with some of my recommendations would be helpful.

Are you starting out as a screenwriter? We have you covered with these recommendations. And if you’re more advanced, some of these tomes would be awesome additions to the vast knowledge you already possess.

Let’s jump in!

Best Screenwriting Books – A Guide to the Best Books on Screenwriting

Here is a selection of books which offer tips and advice for screenwriters of all levels. Pick the ones that most resonate with you and this can be the most enjoyable and creatively rewarding.

Without further ado, let’s jump into our list of the best screenwriting books out there.

Story: Style, Structure, Substance, 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.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting
  • Hardcover Book
  • McKee, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages - 11/25/1997 (Publication Date) - ReganBooks (Publisher)

Best Screenwriting Books

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, including:

  • 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.

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need
  • Last Book on Screen writing
  • Started the phenomenon
  • It is made up of premium quality material.
  • Blake Snyder (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Your Screenplay Sucks: 100 Ways to Make It Great

A lifetime member of the Writer’s Guild of America who has had three feature films produced from his screenplays, Akers offers beginning writers the tools they need to get their screenplay noticed.

Your Screenplay Sucks: 100 Ways to Make It Great
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Akers, William M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 312 Pages - 11/01/2011 (Publication Date) - Michael Wiese Productions (Publisher)


Hollywood’s script guru teaches you how to write a screenplay in “the ‘bible’ of screenwriting” (The New York Times)—now celebrating forty years of screenwriting success!

Syd Field’s books on the essential structure of emotionally satisfying screenplays have ignited lucrative careers in film and television since 1979.

In this revised edition of his premiere guide, the underpinnings of successful onscreen narratives are revealed in clear and encouraging language that will remain wise and practical as long as audiences watch stories unfold visually—from hand-held devices to IMAX to virtual reality . . . and whatever comes next.

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.

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting
  • This product will be an excellent pick for you.
  • It comes in a proper packaging.
  • It ensures you get the best usage for a longer period
  • Field, Syd (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

150 Screenwriting Challenges

Writer/director Eric Heisserer has collected 150 specific exercises to help screenwriters develop and hone their skills in dialogue, character, story, idea generation, and rewriting.

Hi. I’m Eric, and I’m a working screenwriter, which is a dressed-up way of saying it’s how I pay the rent.

I started writing for the chance at paying the rent with it about fifteen years ago (oh god, that’s a long time, I was such a derp), and during that long, slow crawl uphill to professional status I learned a ton of tricks and tests to help me improve my craft, including ways to find my own unique voice, and methods to break through writer’s block.

A few years ago I began sharing these writing challenges on Twitter (@HIGHzurrer) and gained a healthy number of followers who were just here for the “writing insight porn” if you know what I mean. This book contains my favorite challenges from that collection, plus a few dozen new ones I’ve learned since then.

To be honest, the book is going to be as much a reference document for myself as I hope it will be for you, so here it is. We’re in this together.

150 Screenwriting Challenges
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Heisserer, Eric (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 174 Pages - 11/06/2013 (Publication Date) - Eric Heisserer (Publisher)



What Are Screenwriting Books?

Screenwriting books are an amazing resource for aspiring screenwriters.

There are many different types of books available – some focus on the technical aspects of screenwriting, others offer insight into the business side of things and some go in-depth about specific genres or techniques like character development.

Screenwriters often reference these books for inspiration and guidance in the writing process.

These books also contain shared experiences from other writers who have written a screenplay before, including common pitfalls and errors that they made when writing their scripts.

Screenwriting books can be a great way to take your writing from amateur to professional!



The Coffee Break Screenwriter

The writer receives guidance and tips at every stage of the often intimidating writing process with a relaxed, “ten minutes at a time” method that focuses the writer and pushes him or her forward.

At each step, writers are encouraged to “Take Ten” and tackle an element of their script using the templates and tools provided.

“What You’ve Accomplished” sections help writers review their progress. And “Ten-Minute Lectures” distill and demystify old school theory, allowing the writer to unblock and get writing.

The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time - 2nd Edition
  • Alessandra, Pilar (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 270 Pages - 05/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Michael Wiese Productions (Publisher)

The Hero with A Thousand Faces

Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology.

In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions.

He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.

As part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this third edition features expanded illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography, and more accessible sidebars.


As relevant today as when it was first published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces continues to find new audiences in fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film studies.

The book has also profoundly influenced creative artists—including authors, songwriters, game designers, and filmmakers—and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Campbell, Joseph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 07/28/2008 (Publication Date) - New World Library (Publisher)

The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction

Most screenwriting books tend to focus on story structure, scene writing, navigating the business, and other parts of the craft that come AFTER the initial choice of the central concept for a story.

Multiple Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning writer/producer Erik Bork (HBO’s Band of Brothers) takes a different approach.

His experience in the industry and as a screenwriting professor and coach have led him to recognize that it’s the selection of the initial idea that is the most important part of the process — with the most impact on the project’s chance of success.

And as Mr. Bork knows from experience, this choice takes a lot more understanding and work to get “right” than it might seem.

Most screenwriters and fiction writers have difficulty getting their work read and accepted by agents, editors and producers mainly because their idea for a story presented in a query or pitch doesn’t excite these “gatekeepers” like it would need to, for them to want to engage.

And when they do read the whole story, their core reasons for “passing” are usually also about the basic idea (although lack of professional-level execution matters, too).

But writers are usually in the dark about this, not realizing that the project they spent months or years on had fundamental flaws on a concept level, in the eyes of the people they most hoped to impress with it.

But even the best fiction writing books and screenwriting experts tend to move quickly past the crucial step of choosing a viable idea, to get to the specific plotting and composition of it, because there is so much to master in those later parts of the process — which feel a lot more like “writing” than developing and mulling over potential story concepts.

Professionals, though, tend to understand the primacy of “the idea,” and learn that there are certain key elements in story or series premises that really work, and which are worth investing time and energy in.

And that’s what The Idea focuses on — laying out what those specific elements are, and how to master them.

While its concepts originate from the author’s screenwriting experiences, they apply equally to commercial fiction writing, playwriting and other forms of “story” — because the focus is on what makes an underlying concept compelling enough to appeal to a substantial audience or readership.

The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction
  • Bork, Erik (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 226 Pages - 09/05/2018 (Publication Date) - Overfall Press (Publisher)

Adventures in the Screen Trade

No one knows the writer’s Hollywood more intimately than William Goldman.

Two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter and the bestselling author of Marathon Man, Tinsel, Boys and Girls Together, and other novels, Goldman now takes you into Hollywood’s inner sanctums…on and behind the scenes for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, and other films…into the plush offices of Hollywood producers…into the working lives of acting greats such as Redford, Olivier, Newman, and Hoffman…and into his own professional experiences and creative thought processes in the crafting of screenplays.

You get a firsthand look at why and how films get made and what elements make a good screenplay. Says columnist Liz Smith, “You’ll be fascinated.

Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting
  • Goldman, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 03/10/1989 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

The Writer’s Journey

The updated and revised third edition provides new insights and observations from Vogler’s ongoing work on mythology’s influence on stories, movies, and man himself.

The previous two editions of this book have sold over 180,000 units, making this book a ‘classic’ for screenwriters, writers, and novelists.

The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Vogler, Christopher (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 407 Pages - 11/01/2007 (Publication Date) - Michael Wiese Productions (Publisher)

The 21st Century Screenplay

The 21st-Century Screenplay is the long-awaited, much-expanded successor to the author’s internationally acclaimed Scriptwriting Updated.

Many books in one, it offers a comprehensive, highly practical manual of screenwriting from the classic to the avant-garde, from The African Queen and Tootsie, to 21 Grams, Pulp Fiction, Memento and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Whether you want to write short films, features, adaptations, genre films, ensemble films, blockbusters or art house movies, this book takes you all the way from choosing the brilliant idea to plotting, writing and rewriting.

Featuring a range of insider survival tips on time-effective writing, creativity under pressure and rising to the challenge of international competition, The 21st-Century Screenplay is essential reading for newcomer and veteran alike.

The 21st-Century Screenplay: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Tomorrow's Films
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Aronson, Linda (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 490 Pages - 02/11/2011 (Publication Date) - Silman-James Press (Publisher)

The Screenwriter’s Bible

The Screenwriter’s Bible’s 7th edition marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most popular, authoritative, and useful books on screenwriting.

A standard by which other screenwriting books are measured, it has sold over 340,000 copies in its 25-year life.

Always up-to-date and reliable, it contains everything that both the budding and working screenwriter need under one cover five books in one!

  • A Screenwriting Primer that provides a concise course in screenwriting basics
  • A Screenwriting Workbook that walks you through the complete writing process, from nascent ideas through final revisions
  • A Formatting Guide that thoroughly covers today’s correct formats for screenplays and TV scripts
  • A Spec Writing Guide that demonstrates today’s spec style through sample scenes and analysis, with an emphasis on grabbing the reader’s interest in the first ten pages
  • A Sales and Marketing Guide that presents proven strategies to help you create a laser-sharp marketing plan.

Among this book’s wealth of practical information are sample query letters, useful worksheets and checklists, hundreds of examples, sample scenes, and straightforward explanations of screenwriting fundamentals.

The 7th edition is chock-full of new examples, the latest practices, and new material on non-traditional screenplay outlets.

The Screenwriter's Bible, 7th Edition, A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script
  • David Trottier (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 450 Pages - 08/30/2019 (Publication Date) - Silman-James Press (Publisher)

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller

John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry, and his students have gone on to pen some of Hollywood’s most successful films, including Sleepless in Seattle, Scream, and Shrek.

The Anatomy of Story is his long-awaited first book, and it shares all his secrets for writing a compelling script.

Based on the lessons in his award-winning class, Great Screenwriting, The Anatomy of Story draws on a broad range of philosophy and mythology, offering fresh techniques and insightful anecdotes alongside Truby’s own unique approach to building an effective, multifaceted narrative.

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
  • Truby, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 10/14/2008 (Publication Date) - Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Publisher)



Benefits Of Reading Screenwriting Books

Screenwriting books are a great resource for writers to learn the craft of screenwriting. They provide advice on keeping an audience engaged, how dialogue should be written, and what makes a fantastic story.

Screenwriting books are a great resource for screenwriters to use in order to improve their skills and find new ways of telling stories.

There is no one way of writing scripts, so there’s no “right” or “wrong” way when it comes to picking out what works best for you.

Screenwriting books are a great resource for writers to learn more about the craft of screenwriting.

They offer insight into the different genres, careers in screenwriting and how to market your script. Screenwriters can also discover new techniques they may not have been aware of before.

The art of screenwriting is difficult, and it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to understanding the nuances of the format. That’s why there are so many books on the subject — to help aspiring writers learn everything they need in order to create a great screenplay.



Writing Movies for Fun and Profit

This is the only screenwriting guide by two guys who have actually done it (instead of some schmuck who just gives lectures about screenwriting at the airport Marriott); “These guys are proof that with no training and little education, ANYONE can make it as a screenwriter” (Paul Rudd)

Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s movies have made over a billion dollars at the box office—and now they show you how to do it yourself!

This book is full of secret insider information about how to conquer the Hollywood studio system: how to write, pitch, structure, and get drunk with the best of them.

Well…maybe not the best of them, but certainly the most successful. (If you’re aiming to win an Oscar, this is not the book for you!) But if you can type a little, and can read and speak English—then you too can start turning your words into stacks of money!

This is the only screenwriting book you will ever need (because all other ones pretty much suck). In these pages, Garant and Lennon provide the kind of priceless tips you won’t find anywhere else, including:

-The art of pitching

-Getting your foot in the door

-Taking notes from movie stars

-How to get fired and rehired

-How to get credit and royalties!

And most important: what to buy with the huge piles of money you’re going to make

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!
  • Lennon, Thomas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 07/03/2012 (Publication Date) - Touchstone (Publisher)

Getting it Write: An Insider’s Guide to a Screenwriting Career

There are plenty of books about the craft of screenwriting, and a handful about pitching your screenplay.

However, little can be found on how to go from writing to pitching in the professional space. There is no formula, no three-step plan.

Getting It Write: An Insider’s Guide to a Screenwriting Career unlocks pragmatic guidance for constructing a screenwriting career, delivered by a sought-after industry authority who works with writers both novice and professional.


Never pulling any punches, the book aims to decode Hollywood, prepare the writer for the road ahead, and offer tangible avenues for screenwriting success.

Getting it Write: An Insider's Guide to a Screenwriting Career
  • Jessup, Lee Zahavi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 166 Pages - 04/01/2014 (Publication Date) - Michael Wiese Productions (Publisher)

The Nutshell Technique

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.

Since its publication in 2016, The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting was an instant classic.

It is the go-to manual many professionals swear by, and it’s on the syllabus at film schools across the world including the world renowned screenwriting program at Columbia University. It has also been published in Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Italian.

The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting
  • Chamberlain, Jill (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 03/01/2016 (Publication Date) - University of Texas Press (Publisher)



What Is Screenwriting?

Screenwriting is the process of writing scripts for TV and film.

Screenwriters often work in teams to develop a script, with one screenwriter assigned to write each sequence or scene as it happens on the page.

Screenplays typically follow a three-act format, where the first act establishes what’s at stake for the protagonist; the second shows that things aren’t going well and then introduces an obstacle; and finally everything starts coming together by act three when all problems are resolved.



On Writing

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.

King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
  • writing advice from horror-meistro Stephen King, a fine softcover
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 07/06/2010 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)

How to Write a Movie in 21 Days

The ultimate survival guide, How to Write a Movie in 21 Days takes the aspiring screenwriter the shortest distance from blank page to complete script.

Viki King’s Inner Movie Method is a specific step-by-step process designed to get the story in the writer’s onto the page. This method guides the would-be screenwriter through the writing of a movie. It answers such questions as:

  • How to clarify the idea you don’t quite have yet
  • How to tell if your idea is really a movie
  • How to move from what you want to say saying it
  • How to stop getting ready and start

Once you know what to write, the Inner Movie Method will show you how to write it. It also addresses such issues as:

  • How to pay the rent while paying your dues
  • What to say to your spouse when you can’t come to bed
  • How to keep going when you think you can’t

For accomplished screenwriters honing their craft, as well as those who never before brought their ideas to paper, How to Write a Movie in 21 Days is an indispensable guide. And Viki King’s upbeat, friendly style is like having a first-rate writing partner every step of the way.

How to Write a Movie in 21 Days: The Inner Movie Method
  • King, Viki (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 09/15/1993 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins Publishers (Publisher)

Inside Story

What is the secret to writing a great screenplay

Whether you’re a beginning screenwriter or an A-list Academy Award winner, all writers struggle with the same thing: to get to the great script inside.

Step by step, Inside Story guides you through an extraordinary new process that helps identify your thematic intention—what your story is really about—and teaches you how to turn that intention into the driving force behind all your creative choices.

The result is a profound relationship between the movement of the plot and the internal development of character, which is the foundation for the transformational arc. The transformational arc is the deeper line of structure found inside the story.

Knowing how to work with the arc enhances your ability to:

  • Express your unique point of view
  • Give meaning and urgency to the line of action
  • Infuse your characters with richness, subtlety, and surprise
  • Develop a powerful emotional undercurrent
  • Make your stories stand out and get attention

Inside Story delivers what the name implies: it’s the real inside scoop on how to write a great screenplay with depth, dimension, and substance. It is a must-have book for any serious screenwriter, playwright, or novelist.

Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc: The Secret to Crafting Extraordinary Screenplays
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Marks, Dara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 377 Pages - 02/09/2017 (Publication Date) - Three Mountain Press (Publisher)

The Hollywood Standard

The Hollywood Standard describes in clear, vivid prose and hundreds of examples how to format every element of a screenplay or television script.

A reference for everyone who writes for the screen, from the novice to the veteran, this is the dictionary of script format, with instructions for formatting everything from the simplest master scene heading to the most complex and challenging musical underwater dream sequence.

This new edition includes a quick start guide, plus new chapters on avoiding a dozen deadly formatting mistakes, clarifying the difference between a spec script and production script, and mastering the vital art of proofreading.

For the first time, readers will find instructions for formatting instant messages, text messages, email exchanges and caller ID.

The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style (Hollywood Standard: The Complete & Authoritative Guide to)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Riley, Christopher (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 08/01/2009 (Publication Date) - Michael Wiese Productions (Publisher)

Essentials of Screenwriting

Hollywood’s premier teacher of screenwriting shares the secrets of writing and selling successful screenplays in this perfect gift for aspiring screenwriters.

Anyone fortunate enough to win a seat in Professor Richard Walter’s legendary class at UCLA film school can be confident their career has just taken a quantum leap forward.

His students have written more than ten projects for Steven Spielberg alone, plus hundreds of other Hollywood blockbusters and prestigious indie productions, including two Oscar winners for best original screenplay—Milk (2008) and Sideways (2006).

In this updated edition, Walter integrates his highly coveted lessons and principles from Screenwriting with material from his companion text, The Whole Picture, and includes new advice on how to turn a raw idea into a great movie or TV script-and sell it. There is never a shortage of aspiring screenwriters, and this book is their bible.

Essentials of Screenwriting: The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing
  • Walter, Richard (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 06/29/2010 (Publication Date) - Plume (Publisher)

Screenwriting 434

For decades, Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434 class at UCLA has been the premier screenwriting course, launching a generation of the industry’s most frequently produced writers.

Here, he shares the secrets of his course on the screenwriting process by actually writing an original script, step by step, that appears in the book.

Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434: The Industry's Premier Teacher Reveals the Secrets of the Successful Screenplay
  • Hunter, Lew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 05/04/2004 (Publication Date) - TarcherPerigee (Publisher)

My Story Can Beat Up Your Story

My Story Can Beat Up Your Story! is the same powerful, easy-to-learn system that industry insiders have used to generate millions of dollars in script sales and ?assignments.

In a clear, step-by-step fashion, this book is a fun, eye-opening, ?brain-expanding, and often irreverent guide to writing stories that sell.

Covering everything from Heroes to Villains, from Theme to Plot Points, from cooking up good ideas to a business plan for smart writers, this book forever eliminates that horrible feeling every writer goes through — staring at the blank page and wondering “what comes next?”

My Story Can Beat Up Your Story: Ten Ways to Toughen Up Your Screenplay from Opening Hook to Knockout Punch
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Schechter, Jeffrey (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages - 04/01/2011 (Publication Date) - Michael Wiese Productions (Publisher)

Into the Woods

The idea of Into the Woods is not to supplant works by Aristotle, Lajos Egri, Robert McKee, David Mamet, or any other writers of guides for screenwriters and playwrights, but to pick up on their cues and take the reader on a historical, philosophical, scientific, and psychological journey to the heart of all storytelling.

In this exciting and wholly original book, John Yorke not only shows that there is truly a unifying shape to narrative―one that echoes the great fairytale journey into the woods, and one, like any great art, that comes from deep within―he explains why, too.

With examples ranging from The Godfather to True Detective, Mad Men to Macbeth, and fairy tales to Forbrydelsen (The Killing), Yorke utilizes Shakespearean five-act structure as a key to analyzing all storytelling in all narrative forms, from film and television to theatre and novel-writing―a big step from the usual three-act approach.

Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey Into Story is destined to sit alongside David Mamet’s Three Uses of the Knife, Robert McKee’s Story, Syd Field’s Screenplay, and Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing as one of the most original, useful, and inspiring books ever on dramatic writing.

Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey Into Story
  • Yorke, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 10/20/2015 (Publication Date) - Harry N. Abrams (Publisher)

Story Line: Finding Gold in Your Life Story 

Story Line: Finding Gold in Your Life Story is a practical and spiritual guide to drawing upon your own story and fictionalizing it into your writing.

As a Story Consultant and former VP of Current Programs at CBS/Paramount, most of the author’s work with writers has focused on creating standout scripts by elevating story.

Story Line: Finding Gold in Your Life Story
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Grisanti, Jennifer (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 300 Pages - 03/01/2011 (Publication Date) - Michael Wiese Productions (Publisher)

Three Uses of the Knife

The purpose of theater, like magic, like religion . . . is to inspire cleansing awe. What makes good drama? And why does drama matter in an age that is awash in information and entertainment? David Mamet, one of our greatest living playwrights, tackles these questions with bracing directness and aphoristic authority.

He believes that the tendency to dramatize is essential to human nature, that we create drama out of everything from today’s weather to next year’s elections. But the highest expression of this drive remains the theater.

With a cultural range that encompasses Shakespeare, Bretcht, and Ibsen, Death of a Salesman and Bad Day at Black Rock, Mamet shows us how to distinguish true drama from its false variants. He considers the impossibly difficult progression between one act and the next and the mysterious function of the soliloquy.

The result, in Three Uses of the Knife, is an electrifying treatise on the playwright’s art that is also a strikingly original work of moral and aesthetic philosophy.

Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama
  • Mamet, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 06/13/2000 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

Screenwriters on Screen-Writing

Before any lights, camera, or action, there’s the script–arguably the most important single element in filmmaking, and Screenwriters on Screen-Writing introduces the men and women responsible for the screenplays that have produced some of the most successful and acclaimed films in Hollywood history.

In each interview, not only do the writers explore the craft and technique of creating a filmic blueprint, but they recount the colorful tales of coming up in the ranks of the movie business and of bringing their stories to the screen, in a way that only natural-born storytellers such as themselves can.

These and other screenwriters have garnered the attention of the movie-going population not only with their words, but with headlines announcing the sales of their scripts for hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars.

Anyone interested in writing, making, or learning about movies will enjoy reading this fascinating behind-the-scenes compendium that brings together some of the most prominent and talented screenwriters in modern-day filmmaking.

Screenwriters interviewed include:

Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost), Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), Amy Holden Jones (Indecent Proposal), Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs), Horton Foote (To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies), Andrew Bergman (The In-Laws), Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands), Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King), and Robert Towne (Chinatown, Shampoo).

Screenwriters on Screen-Writing: The Best in the Business Discuss Their Craft
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Engel, Joel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 298 Pages - 01/01/1995 (Publication Date) - Hachette Books (Publisher)

Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect

Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect, Fourth Edition stands alone among screenwriting books by emphasizing that human connection, though often overlooked, is as essential to writing effective screenplays as conflict.

This groundbreaking book will show you how to advance and deepen your screenwriting skills, increasing your ability to write richer, more resonant short screenplays that will connect with your audience.

With her candid, conversational style, award-winning writer and director Claudia Hunter Johnson teaches you the all-important basics of dramatic technique and guides you through the challenging craft of writing short screenplays with carefully focused exercises of increasing length and complexity.

In completing these exercises and applying Claudia’s techniques and insights to your own work, you will learn how to think more deeply about the screenwriter’s purpose, craft effective patterns of human change, and strengthen your storytelling skills.

This new edition has been expanded and updated to include:

  • A companion website ( with ten award-winning short films featured in the book, including two outstanding, all-new short films ― Intercambios and the Student-Emmy-Award-winning Underground.
  • A new chapter on scene and structure that will help you find the right structure for your short screenplay.
  • A new chapter on crafting effective dialogue and subtext that will teach you to make the most of every word and add further depth to your script.
Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect
  • Johnson, Claudia H. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 444 Pages - 10/08/2014 (Publication Date) - Focal Press (Publisher)

The Guide For Every Screenwriter

Screenwriting made simple. The Guide for Every Screenwriter is one of the most efficient instruction manuals on the craft.

This book cuts past verbose exposition and gets straight to work, delivering sample-driven outlines and templates that anyone can follow.

It is quick to apply to your work and serves as a side-by-side checklist for the writing process. This is the book for anyone looking to write a screenplay and for any professional needing a refresher.

The Guide for Every Screenwriter: From Synopsis to Subplots: The Secrets of Screenwriting Revealed
  • Calhoun, Geoffrey D. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 132 Pages - 04/26/2019 (Publication Date) - We Fix Your Script (Publisher)

Screenplay: Writing the Picture

Screenplay is a complete screenwriting course-from developing a theme, researching a story, plotting and structuring a script, developing characters, and plying methods that aid the actual writing and rewriting processes through understanding the ins and outs of marketing and pitching scripts.

Well-written, comprehensive, and filled with illustrative screenplay examples, both innovative and tried-and-true writing techniques, sage advice from veteran writers, and pertinent writing anecdotes, this one-of-a-kind screenwriting book will help both novices and working screenwriters improve and sell their scripts.

Robin U. Russin is a playwright, award-winning screenwriter, producer, University of California, Riverside, screenwriting teacher. Among his film-writing credits is the feature On Deadly Ground.

William Missouri Downs is an award-winning playwright whose work has been produced at the Kennedy Center and around the world. Two of his most recent plays, Cockeyed and Kosher Lutherans are published by Samuel French.

Screenplay: Writing the Picture, 2nd Edition
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Russin, Robin U. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 424 Pages - 06/25/2012 (Publication Date) - Silman-James Press (Publisher)

How to Manage Your Agent

Have you written the script for the next box office blockbuster or hit TV show and just need the right agent to sell it? Not sure whether to accept an if-come deal or a script commitment? Debating which manager is the right choice to steer your career? Well, worry no more…

How to Manage Your Agent is a fun, friendly guide to the world of literary representation. Enter the inner sanctums of Hollywood’s power-brokers and learn how they influence what pitches get bought, what projects get sold, and which writers get hired.

Find tips from top-level executives, agents, managers, producers, and writers to help you maximize your own representation and kick your career into overdrive! You’ll learn:

  • How agents prioritize their client list… and ways to guarantee you’re at the top
  • When to approach new representation… and what you need to capture their interest
  • Hollywood’s secret buying schedule… and how to ensure you’re on it
  • The truth about packaging… where it helps and when it hurts
  • Which agents are best for you… and where to find them
  • Advice on acing your first agent meeting… and why so many writers blow it
  • Managers’ tricks for creating buzz… and when to use them yourself
  • How to fire your agent… without killing your career
  • When you don’t need representation… and how to succeed without it

The value of good representation is undeniable―especially in a world where agents and managers control which projects (and careers) live or die. How to Manage Your Agent puts you on the inside track to get your work the attention it deserves!

How to Manage Your Agent: A Screenwriter's Guide to Understanding (and Getting the Most From) Your Hollywood Representation
  • Chad, Gervich (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 300 Pages - 05/25/2013 (Publication Date) - Focal Press (Publisher)

Best Screenwriting Books – Wrapping Up

As with anything, when it comes to screenwriting there are a whole wealth of books available. The skill of writing for the screen has existed for many decades and many talented people have put pen to paper in order to write their thoughts and tips on the screenwriting profession.

The books I mentioned here by Syd Field are Robert McKee (among others) are considered classics in the industry and should be on any screenwriter’s bookshelf, with timeless advice that builds upon the fundamentals and gets your foundation as a screenwriting in place.

And, last but not least, it should be emphasised that some of the best screenwriting learning actually comes from two central things:

  1. Reading existing screenplays in full.
  2. Practising your own screenwriting.

Firstly, reading existing screenplays allows you to see exactly how the masters do it. What better way than to learn the skill, talent and form directly from the horse’s mouth!?

And, secondly, practice as you know makes perfect. That goes for anything in life, but especially the art and science of screenwriting.

We hope you’ve found this guide to the best screenwriting books helpful. Did we miss any of your favorite scriptwriting books out? Let us know in the comments just below here.