Other Books on Story and Screenwriting
I am often asked if, other than my own books, I recommend any others for readers interested in writing.
Yes! is my happy answer.
I love books on writing, and I’m always inspired by them. And I’ve used many in my own career to get a better grasp on my work.
Of course, there is the master, Syd Field, and his classic, Screenplay. Where would any of us be without this brilliant insight into structure and story? Syd Field is the godfather of screenwriting methodology. And a close second is John Truby whose long awaited book, The Anatomy of Story, encapsulates his theories.
I also love Viki King’s book How To Write a Movie in 21 Days — and used it to write and sell a script in the titular time frame. My other favorites include David Trottier’s Screenwriter’s Bible and any book by Karl Iglesias (either 101 Habits of Successful Screenwriter or Writing for Emotional Impact — both big favs!)
For theory, there is nothing better than a couple you may have heard of, and ones that are on my shelf at the ready: The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Breitleheim and The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri are ones I often read just for fun — and to get inspired about how fairy tales and folk tales still inform us.
And as far as books about the business are concerned, I still reference both Hello, He Lied by Lynda Obst, Breakfast with Sharks by Michael Lent, and the classic Memo by David O. Selznick (which shows how the more things change the more they stay the same). These are insider looks at Hollywood, all fun reads.
Recently there is a whole new batch of future classics. Tops on my list is my buddy Will Akers’ book, called bluntly, Your Screenplay Sucks! Will’s wonderful treatise is chalk full of things I’ve always wanted to point out to writers about their scripts, and covers everything from unclear thinking to bonehead mistakes we screenwriters make that scream out: Don’t buy my script! Yes, I’m prejudiced, but Will’s book is great.
I also really like Cinematic Storytelling by Jennifer Van Sijll. These latter two books are both found in my current publisher’s stable. Michael Wiese Publishing has really cornered the market on the best books out there for entertainment, on every subject from script to directing and producing to post-production.
This goes for my other Michael Wiese favorite author, Michael Hauge, whose most recent MWP book, Selling Your Story in Sixty Seconds is absolutely fantastic, and a great companion to Michael’s classic Writing Screenplays That Sell. Also in the MWP family now is Linda Seger, whose new book is And The Best Screenplay Goes To… which covers five award-winning screenplays, and how they got that way.
And of course for pure inspiration, I always pick up On Writing by Stephen King, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and, believe it or not, the poetry of T.S. Elliot, William Butler Yeats, The Bible (King James edition), and any novel by Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Charles Bukowski. For some reason, the joyful use of language — juicy, lip-smacking words on a page — make me want to run to the word processor.
I hope this list is inspiring. What inspires you? That’s the question here in August! Inspire me and I will write great, lovely stories and screenplays, and build them into an empire of word pictures that stand…