These seven books will really help you sharpen your skills.
One way to hone your screenwriting craft is to read books that teach you about the screenwriting craft. And there is no shortage of books on the market that do just that. With so many to choose from, where do you even start?
Here’s a list of some favorites that will guide you on not only the basic principles of writing for the screen but also the more challenging aspects of your creative skillset.
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Cut to the Chase: Writing Feature Films with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program
This is the preferred screenwriting book by the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. One of the reasons this book is recommended is the easy-to-digest chapters written by different UCLA instructors, and broken down by specific subjects like character, structure, story, business, etc. It also includes a variety of film examples making it a favorite for those who want to become screenwriters and or want to brush up on their feature screenwriting skills.
Inside the Room: Writing Television with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program
For television writers, this book is the companion book to the one above. Easy to read chapters written by different UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instructors, this book gives the reader a great overview of what television writing is all about.
Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need
Save the Cat! has made the list because it comes up all the time. Love it or hate it, there isn’t a single person in the business who hasn’t read it. Make sure you can be a part of the conversation when this one comes up. There are some great insights about character and storytelling in this one as well.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
This book is so inspirational for fans of the master of all things scary. It’s hard to imagine a time in which Stephen King wasn’t a household name. Well, that time existed and he describes submitting his work and keeping a stack of rejection letters. This is a great summer read for any writer.
Write It, Pitch It, Sell Your Screenplay: A Hollywood Buyer’s Insider Guide to Getting Your Script Past the Gatekeepers
Donna Michelle Anderson
One of my favorite things about this book is the fact that you can also listen to it on audible. Not only is it a great resource for storytellers and the author is extremely experienced and knowledgeable about the material, but she also gives a very compelling read. The practicality of being able to listen to this on the go is a huge selling point.
Fast, Cheap & Written That Way: Top Screenwriters on Writing for Low-Budget Movies
This book is great for the writer who wants to understand what it means to write a low-budget film and how the process from page to screen usually works on a lower budget. There are some great stories of how iconic films came to be. I recommend watching the films before you dive into reading each chapter.
That’s What She Wrote
Excuse the shameless self-promotion, but including this very affordable eBook full of links to material created by women as well as tales of success and resilience by women writers in the film industry is a must-read for writers everywhere.
There you have it, folks! Let me know if your favorite book about writing didn’t make the list. I’m always looking for new books to read and new takes on storytelling and writing.
Julia Camara is an award-winning Brazilian screenwriter/filmmaker. Julia won a Telly Award for the sci-fi found footage feature Occupants. Julia’s feature directorial debut In Transit, won Best Experimental Film at four different festivals. Julia’s other writing credits include Area Q and Open Road.