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.
Following up on part one of the “checklist to RECOMMEND,” listed below are key coverage checklist items that, if well executed, will help you avoid the problems with more than 95 percent of the scripts out there. Remember, you are competing with established screenwriters as well as other up-and-comers, so what can you do to get your script closer to RECOMMEND? Continue reading “Script coverage: a checklist to RECOMMEND – Part 2”
Screenplay “coverage” and “analysis” tend to be used interchangeably, but there’s one key distinction:
- Script coverage helps producers make business decisions; whereas,
- An industry-level analysis of your screenplay helps you improve material before submitting to producers and screenwriting contests.
Additionally, coverage reports actually are more objective than subjective; therefore it’s important to understand how your writing affects coverage and the steps you can take to get your screenplay recommended to producers. Continue reading “Script coverage: a checklist to RECOMMEND – Part 1”
It’s easy as a screenwriter to tend to focus on dialogue, but the reality is stories need structure and conflict before they need any dialogue. The Doritos Super Bowl goat ad is a great example of why it is best first to focus on the story before worrying about the dialogue. Continue reading “Comedy, the Doritos Goat Super Bowl Ad, and no dialogue needed”
Screenwriting consultant Laurie Hutzler has an excellent blog post on why “War Horse” lacks emotional impact, and here I want to focus on why the film’s key symbol — the Boer War red and tan campaign pennant — lacks the emotional impact it was meant to convey. Continue reading “The failed symbol of “War Horse””
How you introduce your main character not only affects how the audience perceives your character, but, more importantly, whether the audience is likely to be emotionally engaged with your character, and, therefore, your story. Without that engagement, your story is dead because Continue reading “How to introduce your main character”
One of the best ways to write better dialogue in a screenplay is to use subtext: what characters really are saying despite what they actually say, or don’t say.
For example, early in “Lawrence of Arabia” Continue reading “How to reveal character through subtext”