This list of the best screenwriting books — all of which I’ve read — are useful depending on where you are in your screenwriting journey.
If you’ve already written something, I’d go for Akers’s “Your Screenplay Sucks!,” which will highlight the mistakes you didn’t know you made, and help you correct them. Also, Croasmun’s book on marketing your script is invaluable to help you navigate, with confidence, Hollywood’s world of “no.”
If you aspire to writing action, Martell’s “Secrets of Action Screenwriting” is a masterclass in suspenseful screenplay writing.
McKee’s “Story” is all about crafting strong characters, compelling scenes, and overall story structure. If you haven’t been able to attend his highly recommend seminars — attended by many Oscar- and Emmy-winning screenwriters — it’s all covered in this text.
A nice addendum to Mckee is Seger’s “Making a Good Script Great,” which will really help you improve your scenes.
And if comedy’s your thing, then Kaplan’s “Hidden Tools of Comedy” is the comedy reference book you need.
As you’ll find on Amazon, these screenwriting books are highly rated for a reason.
While Saturday Night Live, with its skewering political satire, has returned to late-night prominence, another sketch comedy, north of the border, is equally worthy of praise: Baroness von Sketch Show. Launched last year on CBC, the female-driven sketch comedy appropriately won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Variety or Sketch Comedy on International Women’s Day. Continue reading “Baroness von Sketch: Keen satire, devilishly female”
Walt Hickey’s recent FiveThirtyEight blog post, “How Data Can Help You Write A Better Screenplay,” is flawed on so many levels, the key one being predictive analytics does not apply to screenwriting. Why not? Because, first and foremost, the screenplay is a blueprint for a film, and the process of interpreting text to a visual medium reflects a collaborative effort with multiple unpredictable variables — most notably, people: actors, directors, producers, editors, cinematograhpers, sound technicians, more writers, set designers, etc. Continue reading “No, data cannot help you write a better screenplay”
Yeah, you’ve been writing since grade one or earlier. In college you pulled all-nighters effortlessly pounding out A-grade term papers. Your friends all trust your extraordinary proofing skills. So why bother learning screenwriting when you already know how to write well? Speaking from experience, I can think of a few reasons why studying screenwriting is critical to your success: Continue reading “10 — no, 11! — reasons aspiring screenwriters must study screenwriting”
Screenwriters are always told to write visually because film is a visual medium, and “SMASH CUT TO” somehow has emerged as a “technique” to convey a sudden cut to a new scene. As Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock would say — actually, he would rightfully dismiss you with, perhaps, a glare, if even that, and move on to higher intellectual ground, where you should be, because SMASH CUT TO, if anything, actually will get in the way of the dramatic transition effect for which you poorly are attempting to compensate. The key to a dramatically effective transition from one scene to the next stems not from terminology, but instead from Continue reading “SMASH CUT TO: Another lame transition”