Screenwriting : Best Screenwriting Books by Courtney Flynn

Courtney Flynn

Best Screenwriting Books

What would you guys say are some of the best screenwriting books that exist in terms of developing really strong complex unique characters? Is there anything that you feel is lacking in terms of the current books on the market? Are there any books that you've used to help create/develop your films that led to successes? I know someone who is working on developing a book that will help writers create multi-layered characters in a simple fun way and she is looking for some feedback from the writing community. Thanks everyone!!!

Mark Kamibaya

Story by Robert Mckee

Dan MaxXx

Campbell "A Hero with a Thousand Faces" , Ergi "Art of Dramatic Writing." Both books are over 60++ years old...

Colin David MacDonald

Writing the Character Centered Screenplay by Andrew Horton

Philip Sedgwick

"Your Screenplay Sucks" by William Akers.

Stephen Foster

How to write a movie in 21 days by Viki King. IF you want to complete a screenplay and not just outline it over and over again. this is the BEST book ever!

Bill Costantini

I don't think anyone teaches character development as well as Linda Seger. Her books (Creating Unforgettable Characters, Making a Good Story Great, Advanced Screenwriting...etc) are the best on the subject - at least to me. David Freeman is also a great teacher on screenwriting in general, and in character development in particular. His Advanced Dialogue and Beyond Structure seminars/workbooks are great. When it comes to helping someone understand the importance of the complexities/dualities/motivations/inner and outer needs/ etc., etc. of characters....they are two of the best.

Marcus Bodington

Philip Sedgwick, love the title!

Anthony Cawood

I agree with Claude though I have the sixth edition, it's invaluable.

Dan MaxXx

Bill Martel's "Blue book" series.

Brad Johnson

All of my characters are purely fictional. Any resemblance to the nice, intelligent, sane, positive, thoughtful people that I encounter in real life is pure coincidence.

Joe Bousquin

The one Dan MaxXx points to, The Hero With a Thousand Faces is a mind bender. Not just for movie writing, but for philosophy, psychology and life. Definitely changed me, in a positive way, if only for the fact that the work that went into writing it is unfathomable. Campbell was extremely well read, to say the least. In terms of what's lacking on the market, I'd say this. There are a lot of books about structure, and that's of course a good thing. Fewer on character, though Linda Seger's, which Bill Constantini highlighted, are good, and I'm sure there are more I haven't read. But where I think there's a lot of room to be filled is in technique. By that, I mean, what are the "tricks of the trade," screenwriters use? For instance, ever noticed how many movie scenes are shot in the pouring rain? Ever wondered why? IMO, it's because if the audience sees characters out in the rain, they feel for them and want those characters to finish whatever they're doing so they can get dry! That's a simple example, but I think it points to a technique, or trick of the trade, you can use to make a scene more compelling. Blake Snyder wrote about this a little bit in his "Pope in the pool" example, where he talked about putting a talking head scene in a place you wouldn't expect -- how many times has anyone seen the Pope in a bathing suit? That's a good technique. What are some others? Then there's the whole area of creating subtext, not just in dialogue, but in actions, situations and symbol. How does one do that? Not very easily, apparently. I'd like to see more books that mine the techniques that working screenwriters use to tell a better story, such as these, beyond structure and character development. That's what I would read.

Paul Mahoney

I've found Writing for Emotional Impact (Karl Iglesias), Save the Cat (Blake Snyder), Writing Movies for Profit (Garant & Lennon), & Screenwriters Bible (David Trottier) to be the four books that I reference the most, for different reasons. Garant & Lennon's book is very underrated, some don't like the cover, others the Helen Mirren jokes, but these guys have a wealth of knowledge and created well-known movies such as Night at the Museum, The Pacifier, and Herbie Fully Loaded.

William Martell

(thanks Dan!) (A whole bunch of professionals recommend my books, which is kind of weird. Once I was having diner with a fellow writer, and he got a call from the guy who wrote OWNING MAHONEY, an indie film I'd seen and liked... but I had never met the writer. When my friend told him he was having dinner with me, that writer said my ACTION SCREENWRITING book was the best screenwriting book he had read. Weird.)

Jeff Lyons

Well, duh... Anatomy of a Premise Line :)

Aray Brown

@Philip - great minds think alike, I was just going to suggest that

Izzibella Beau

Way back in the beginning of writing it was suggested that I read Screenwriter's Bible. It's been a tremendous help, but also reading tons of scripts and listening to the advice of professionals here on S32 has been a lifesaver sometimes in my writing.

Melinda Loomis

Hi Courtney - my recommendation is The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives. It isn't a screenwriting book, but it's interviews with authors about how they developed characters that have recurred over the years. The chapter about how Michael Connelly developed Harry Bosch alone is worth the price of the book. To me that chapter alone is a master class on how to develop a character that audiences want to see again and again.

Kristin Johnson

Jason Squire's THE MOVIE BUSINESS BOOK to understand a little of the business we've chosen.Not strictly about screenwriting, but info about the business is always helpful.

Allen Johnson

Earlier on this year I wrote an article on my website on, "10 Books Every Screenwriter Needs To Own". (plus a few honorable mentions) ;) I personally own over 60 screenwriting books and probably at least another 60 published or printed scripts. I love reading about peoples different approaches to it. I hope you find something here that will help!

Aray Brown

Screenplay by Syd Field

Beth Fox Heisinger

Great list!—many books I own. I'll add a few: (1) "Invisible Ink; A Practical Guide to Building Stories That Resonate," by Brian McDonald, (2) "Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays," by Lucy V. Hay, and (3) "Writing Subtext, What Lies Beneath," by Dr. Linda Seger.

Boomer Murrhee

@ CJ. I have that book, it's a wonderful resource. In fact, I may look through it again this afternoon with a pad of paper for notes nearby. Thanks for the reminder.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yup, Writing for Emotional Impact is a great book. Often mentioned several times. ;)

Mike Trentacosti

Stephen King's "On Writing" is a great resource, while not specifically about screenwriting it is a book screenwriters should definitely take a look at.

Aray Brown

@Claude - you're entitled to your own opinion

Aray Brown

Aint that the truth

Joe Bousquin

Mike, I love that book. Wish it had been around when I was just getting started.

Mike Trentacosti

Joe, I'm big fan of Stephen King but just stumbled upon "On Writing" a few years ago when someone recommended that I read it. Very glad I did.

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