SCRIPTS & BOOKS
It is important to learn from the best. You should read plenty of scripts that have been produced or sold. There are many places you can find these scripts:
This online mega-store primarily sells shooting scripts, but you have to know how to find them. If you search “Newmarket shooting scripts” in the BOOK category, this will bring up a list of options. View one of the options, and from there, you can find even more scripts by using the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” tab in the middle of the page.
- Writers Guild of America West
If you’re in Los Angeles, you can visit and read (but not check out) scripts in the WGA library at 7000 W. Third Street. Both WGA members and the public are welcome to use the library during regular hours. Their collection includes 17,000 produced film, radio, and television scripts. 323-782-4544. www.WGA.org
- Margaret Herrick Library
If you’re in Los Angeles, you can visit and read (but not check out) scripts from the Margaret Herrick Library located at 333 S. La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills at the Academy’s Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study. It contains over 80,000 screenplays. http://www.oscars.org/library/
Reading non-fiction books on the craft of writing will help you further develop your abilities, spur new ideas, and keep you motivated. Here are some great books on the craft of writing:
- Screenplay: Writing the Picture
By Robin U. Russin and William Missouri Downs
This book is a comprehensive guide to writing a screenplay. It covers practically every topic – theme, irony, character, structure, conflict, dialogue, genre, rewriting, marketing, and more. It really goes in depth with each of these topics, rather than filling up pages with anecdotal snippets about the writing life. A highly recommended read.
- Gardner’s Guide to Screenplay: From Idea to Successful Script
By Julie Selbo
This detailed guide uses “the eleven-step story structure” and focuses primarily on developing your screenplay through developing your characters. In addition to covering the actual screenwriting process, the book covers many of the elements that will relate to your screenplay, such as the logline, synopsis, and treatment.
- Fast, Cheap & Written That Way
By John Gaspard
This book is a collection of interviews with screenwriters who wrote low-budget indies. Some of these movies you may have seen (Capote, You Can Count on Me, Repo Man, Bubble), and some of these movies, you may not have ever heard of. To get the most out of this book, we recommend renting the movies you aren’t familiar with prior to reading the book. In the last chapter, the author sums up thirty things learned from the interviews.
- The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters
By Karl Iglesias
Talk about motivation! The screenwriters behind Forrest Gump, Lean on Me, Men in Black, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Rush Hour, and more recount their experiences in the industry. They also share tips and opinions about the craft of writing, as well as give advice on how to be a successful in the biz of writing. And since multiple writers give differing opinions on each of the 101 Habits, there is actually way more than 101 habits featured in this book.
- Screenplays: How 25 Scripts Made it to a Theatre Near You – For Better or Worse
By David S. Cohen
This book is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the film industry and the struggles and triumphs of taking a script all the way to the big screen. Variety reporter Cohen tells the stories of the scripts of several commercially and artistically successful films, such as Gladiator, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Black Hawk Down, and Erin Brockovich. The writers’ backstories are revealed, and many of the movie stars also weigh in with their experiences.
- 500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader
By Jennifer Lerch
You can read this in one sitting or read it in bits and pieces. The book is laid out in 500 brief “lessons” on how to beat the gatekeeper: The Hollywood Reader (usually the first person to read your screenplay at a studio, agency, writing competition, etc.). You must get past the reader, and this book contains some good advice on how to do it. None of the writing topics go into great depth, so we recommend that you flesh out your understanding of screenwriting with more elaborative books, and then after an initial read of this book, use it as a quick reference to remind yourself of key writing elements from time to time.
- Crafty Screenwriting: Writing Movies That Get Made
By Alex Epstein
Epstein covers both the business side of writing and selling screenplays as well as the skills you need to be a good writer. And because Epstein is a concise, to-the-point writer, he covers many topics in this 274 page book: the all-important “hook,” plot structure, characters, genre, revising, and more. His conversational tone makes this book a quick read, but more importantly, it has lots of helpful information.
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