The 5 Best Screenwriting Books You Need to Read

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3 mins read

When it comes to screenwriting and filmmaking, the only way to become better is to keep yourself educated. Reading great scripts and screenwriting books enhances your screenwriting skills.

Check out my, Hollywood Screenplays: Best Places to Read and Download for Free if you’re looking for screenplays.

I’ve mixed up this list to include filmmaking. As a screenwriter, if you understand how movies are made, you can better understand how to put your story together. Check out my 5 books we recommend for any screenwriter ready to take their writing to the next level.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. When you purchase using my affiliate links, they compensate me. I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind.

1. Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need


Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need

by Blake Snyder

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need

Here’s what started the phenomenon: the best seller, for over 15 years, that’s been used by screenwriters around the world! Blake Snyder tells all in this fast, funny and candid look inside the movie business. “Save the Cat” is just one of many ironclad rules for making your ideas more marketable and your script more satisfying, including: The four elements of every winning logline The seven immutable laws of screenplay physics The 10 genres that every movie ever made can be categorized by ― and why they’re important to your script Why your Hero must serve your Idea Mastering the 15 Beats Creating the “Perfect Beast” by using The Board to map 40 scenes with conflict and emotional change How to get back on track with proven rules for script repair This ultimate insider’s guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a showbiz veteran who’s proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat.

2. The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller


The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller

by John Truby

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

“If you’re ready to graduate from the boy-meets-girl league of screenwriting, meet John Truby . . . [his lessons inspire] epiphanies that make you see the contours of your psyche as sharply as your script.”
―LA Weekly

3. Making Movies


Making Movies

by Sidney Lumet

Making Movies by Sidney Lumet

“Invaluable…. I am sometimes asked if there is one book a filmgoer could read to learn more about how movies are made and what to look for while watching them. This is the book.” —Roger Ebert, The New York Times Book

4. Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting Movies


Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting

by Robert McKee

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

Robert McKee’s screenwriting workshops have earned him an international reputation for inspiring novices, refining works in progress and putting major screenwriting careers back on track. Quincy Jones, Diane Keaton, Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, John Cleese and David Bowie are just a few of his celebrity alumni. Writers, producers, development executives and agents all flock to his lecture series, praising it as a mesmerizing and intense learning experience.
In Story, McKee expands on the concepts he teaches in his $450 seminars (considered a must by industry insiders), providing readers with the most comprehensive, integrated explanation of the craft of writing for the screen. No one better understands how all the elements of a screenplay fit together, and no one is better qualified to explain the “magic” of story construction and the relationship between structure and character than Robert McKee.

5. Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting


Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

by Syd Field

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

In Screenplay, Syd Field can help you discover:

  • Why the first ten pages of every script are crucial to keeping professional readers’ interest
  • How to visually “grab” these influential readers from page one, word one
  • Why structure and character are the basic components of all narrative screenplays
  • How to adapt a novel, a play, or an article into a saleable script
  • Tips on protecting your work—three ways to establish legal ownership of screenplays
  • Vital insights on writing authentic dialogue, crafting memorable characters, building strong yet flexible storylines (form, not formula), overcoming writer’s block, and much more

Resources for Screenwriters

Save The Cat Overview

Save The Cat – An Overview [+ Free Template]

Video: Save The Cat Examples

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Award - Winning film Executive Producer and Screenwriter Michelle A. Daniel has 14+ years of independent film experience.