10 Best Screenwriting Books for Beginners

June 3rd, 2022  |  by maria

10 Best Screenwriting Books for Beginners -

Understanding how to write a compelling and great screenplay takes time, effort, and practice. If you are new to screenwriting or want to improve your writing, screenwriting books are your best friend. Screenwriting books will aid you on your screenwriting journey and help you create a fantastic script.

There are many screenwriting books to choose from, and you might be overwhelmed by choice. Don’t worry, as we have compiled a list of the 10 best screenwriting books for beginners. These books are crafted by screenwriting experts and contain insight to help you improve your screenwriting skills.

Let’s begin!

Criteria for top screenwriting books

Before we look at our list of best screenwriting books, let’s look at the criteria these books were judged and what makes them a part of our list.

Clarity

Good screenwriting books should be clear and practical. They should be straightforward and to the point so that you understand everything clearly. Books that are muddled and around in circles are difficult to understand.

Knowledgeable

Good screenwriting books should add to your screenwriting knowledge. There’s no point in getting a book with all the information you already know. A good screenwriting book should transform your command of screenwriting.

Helpful

The screenwriting book you choose should ultimately help you with your screenwriting. A good screenwriting book should have helpful tips that you can easily implement into your writing process. Your text should act as a guide and an aid to help you throughout your writing journey.

10 best screenwriting books for beginners

Now that you know what to look for in a great screenwriting text, here’s a list of 10 top screenwriting books for your reading and writing pleasure.

1.    The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler

Source: Goodreads

Christopher Vogler has a long history in the film industry, and he is lauded for his work as a screenwriter and development executive. The Writers Journey is one of the most popular screenwriting books. Christopher Vogler’s writing provides helpful tips and meaningful insight for beginner screenwriters.

Vogler’s vast knowledge of the world of Hollywood makes him the perfect person to write a book on screenwriting. In this book, you will find the learning that takes you beyond screenwriting and instead focuses on honing your writing skill.

Vogler emphasizes that writers should use the “mythic structure in the writer's journey.” The mythic structure refers to a series of narrative forms and character archetypes that Vogler describes through mythical allegory. Vogler states that these structures are crucial to a good screenplay.

2.    Your Screenplay Sucks! By William M. Akers

Source: Goodreads

If you want to learn the essentials of screenwriting, Akers lays down all the necessary information in “Your Screenplay Sucks!” Akers is a lifetime member of the Writer’s Guild of America and the writer of three produced screenplays; therefore, he has extensive knowledge to help you with screenwriting.

Akers list 100 ways you can improve your screenplay in this book, and all these methods are easy to implement into your writing. If you suffer from overwriting your plot, Akers helps you understand how to make your story concise and engaging. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced writer, Akers’ scholarly book will enhance your screenwriting abilities.

3.    Save The Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder.

Source: Goodreads

Save many writers consider the Cat as one of the best "screenwriting books for beginners” and it contains extremely valuable knowledge on the art of screenwriting. This book is great if you want to understand loglines and script concepts better.

Snyder’s book is based on the common script trope where the audiences meet a hero, and then the hero performs a brave action (like saving a cat) that describes who they are and their purpose.

Even though no single structure guarantees a solid screenplay, this book explores several formats you can use to build up a compelling script.

Save the Cat features a section called “the 5-point finale” that gives screenwriters help tips to finish their screenplay on a captivating note. This section, among several others, makes save the cat a great book for beginner screenwriters.

4.    The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

Source: Goodreads

If you want to go back to the basics of writing, Egri pares back the writing process to its bare bones. This book is an essential read before you begin your writing process because Egri helps you understand the nature and function of drama.

The Art of Dramatic Writing is not a traditional screenwriting book. This book does not give you tips and tricks to create a marketable and action-packed screenplay. Instead, Egri focuses on the philosophy of dramatic writing.

Even though this book is not focused solely on scriptwriting, the writer will greatly benefit from this book and gain a deeper understanding of the writing process.

5.    Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

Source: Screenplay

Syd Field’s book Screenplay is one of the best books on the ground rules of good scriptwriting. The Screenplay contains various screenwriting gems that make this book an essential read for any beginner writer. The Hollywood Reporter regards Syd Field as “the most sought-after screenwriting teacher globally.”

In the late 1980s and 1990s, Screenplay became a best-selling book and a sensation in the world of screenwriting. It is also considered a bible of the film industry. Syd Field is an expert at breaking down movie scripts and understanding the common structures that make a story successful.

Once you read this book, you will look at every movie through the lens of screenwriting, and this ability will help you create great scripts.

6.    The Coffee Break Screenwriter by Pilar Alessandra

Source: Goodreads

If you enjoy listening to screenwriting podcasts, you might have heard of Pilar Alessandra. Alessandra hosts one of the best and most informative screenwriting podcasts that consistently puts out knowledgeable writing facts.

Alessandra’s tips and approaches are friendly, easy to understand, and incredibly helpful. Her mastery of screenwriting is aimed at people who want to start their screenwriting journey.

As the name suggests, this book is for people with regular 9 to 5 jobs or who don’t have time to write. The audience is someone who uses their coffee break to work on their writing skill. If you think you are Alessandra’s target audience, this is the book for you.

7.    The 21st Century Screenplay by Linda Aronson

Source: Goodreads

Are you looking for a comprehensive screenwriting book covering multiple genres and writing structures? Look no further than 21st Century Screenplay. Aronson’s book teaches you to write for short films, feature films, genre films, adaptations, art-house movies, blockbusters, etc.

This book Aronson, details multiple ways to plot, write and rewrite your perfect script. Her advice and tips are helpful and knowledgable for any kind of scriptwriter. You will learn to work creatively under pressure and write scripts that help you stand out against your competitors.

Whether you are a new writer or a veteran writer, The 21st Century Screenplay is essential reading. This book is a must-have in every writer’s library.

8.    Story: Style, Structure, Substance and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

Source: Goodreads

Robert McKee is a pioneer in the writing world, and his seminars consistently garner critical acclaim. Therefore, it is no surprise that his book on screenwriting is considered one of the best screenwriting books for beginners.

McKee’s seminars tell us that if there's one thing, he is a master at providing knowledge and understanding to hone your writing skill. His works inspire beginner writers, and it is a valuable tool to improve your existing scripts. 

9.    The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage, or Fiction by Erik Bork

Source: Goodreads

Multiple Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning writer/producer Erik Bork takes an alternate approach to screenwriting in his book The Idea. The Idea does not focus on script structures, scenes, or marketing your screenplay; instead, he focuses on the conception of a script.

Bork argues in his book that the side of your script of one of the important aspects of screenwriting. His experience and time as a screenwriter instructor gave him valuable knowledge about writing, and you can find all these important tips in his book.

In The Idea, bork informs the reader’s that a well-thought-out and compelling idea is crucial to get the ball rolling on their script. Without a great idea, you won’t have captivating writing.

10.The Nutshell Technique by Jill Chamberlain

Source: Goodreads

Even though you can write witty dialogue and create deep characters, you might have trouble making a compelling narrative. Jill Chamberlain has the solution for you if you suffer from this problem. The Nutshell Technique states multiple ways to create a gripping narrative.

The Nutshell Technique offers a hands-on learning experience, and Chamberlain uses several examples from well-known and current movies to help you understand better. The book is easy to read, and you will find several useful tips throughout Chamberlain’s text.

Final Takeaway

Our list contains books that discuss classic screenwriting methods and contemporary techniques to improve your screenwriting. Browse through this list to find out which screenwriting book works best for you.

If you liked this article, you should also check out Types of Movie Posters

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