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The 10 Best Screenwriting Books for Aspiring Screenwriters

Reading educational books isn't everyone's cup of tea but finding a great screenwriting book can help you to become a much better writer. Especially considering that a lot of writers and new screenwriters are fumbling around in the dark.

If you've read any of our other articles you'll know that we've mentioned how challenging AND rewarding the art form of screenwriting can be. That it requires a combination of storytelling skills, creativity, and technical knowledge. Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced screenwriter looking to improve your craft, there are a number of great books that can help you on your journey.

So Script Stable have complied a list of our favourites (in no particular order) to help you narrow it down for your next book purchase.

Here are ten of the best screenwriting books that every aspiring screenwriter should consider reading:

"Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting" by Syd Field

This classic book is often considered the bible of screenwriting and provides a comprehensive guide to the structure and elements of a successful screenplay. It covers everything from character development to dialogue and is an essential resource for screenwriters of all levels.

"Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need" by Blake Snyder

You'll no doubt have already heard people banging on about this book. Save The Cat is a firm fav among many. It provides a fresh and straightforward approach to screenwriting, with a focus on the importance of story structure and genre. Snyder's "beat sheet" formula is a widely-used tool for planning and writing screenplays and his writing style is both engaging and easy to understand.

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

Anything with 'anatomy' in the title is going to be comprehensive. This guide to storytelling covers everything from character development to world-building and is a must-read for any aspiring screenwriter. Truby's unique approach to storytelling provides a deep understanding of the building blocks of great stories and how to craft them.

"Writing the Screenplay: A Practical Guide" by Philip Parker

This practical guide provides a step-by-step approach to screenwriting, with a focus on the practicalities of writing and selling a screenplay. Parker covers everything from developing a concept to writing a treatment and provides a wealth of practical advice for screenwriters of all levels. Practical is key when it comes to screenwriting.

"The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Works" by Joseph Campbell

Dating back to 1949, this is an OG screenwriting book, providing a deep dive into the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell, who is best known for his theory of the "hero's journey". Campbell's work has had a huge impact on modern storytelling and this book provides a comprehensive guide to his ideas and how they can be applied to screenwriting.

"The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers" by Christopher Vogler

This book provides a practical guide to Vogler's interpretation of the "hero's journey" and how it can be applied to screenwriting. Vogler provides a detailed analysis of classic stories and provides a roadmap for writers looking to craft compelling and engaging stories.

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

An industry staple, this comprehensive guide to screenwriting covers everything from story structure to character development and is widely considered one of the best screenwriting books on the market. McKee's writing style is engaging and his insights into the art of screenwriting are both practical and profound.

"On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King

The man, the legend, the KING... Stephen King. Known for his prolific writing, this memoir by best-selling author Stephen King provides a unique insight into the craft of writing, including screenwriting. King's writing style is engaging and his practical advice on everything from character development to dialogue is both insightful and inspiring.

"The Elements of Screenwriting: A Guide to the Craft and Art of Writing for the Screen" by Richard Walter

Another comprehensive guide to screenwriting, covering everything from the basics of storytelling to the more advanced elements of screenwriting and is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their skills. Walter's writing style is engaging and his practical advice is both insightful and easy to understand.

A Bonus 11th Screenwriting Book:

"Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways to Make it Great" William M. Akers.

A practical guide that offers aspiring screenwriters invaluable insights into the craft of screenwriting. Akers emphasises the importance of captivating storytelling, compelling characters, and engaging dialogue. Through a combination of humor and candid advice, he highlights common pitfalls and mistakes made by inexperienced writers, providing clear solutions and actionable steps to improve their scripts. Akers encourages writers to embrace the rewriting process, emphasising that the first draft is rarely perfect. With its straightforward approach and no-nonsense attitude, "Your Screenplay Sucks" equips writers with the tools they need to transform their scripts into captivating and marketable works of art.

Which screenwriting book are you getting first? Tell us in the comments.

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