I’ve shared in a previous Editor’s Picks post my favorite screenwriting books. Now I want to explore ones my friends have recommended to me.
Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting – No one knows the writer’s Hollywood more intimately than William Goldman. Two-time Academy Award-winning screenwriter (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men) and the bestselling author of Marathon Man, Tinsel, Boys and Girls Together, and other novels, Goldman now takes you into Hollywood’s inner sanctums: on and behind the scenes for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, and other films; into the plush offices of Hollywood producers; into the working lives of acting greats such as Redford, Olivier, Newman, and Hoffman; and into his own professional experiences and creative thought processes in the crafting of screenplays. You get a firsthand look at why and how films get made and what elements make a good screenplay.
Howdunit: Book of Poisons – Whether you have hopes of becoming a screenwriter for a show like Grey’s Anatomy, a crime novelist, or a short story author, you’ll reach for this book over the technical medical references you’ve been used to wading through. The authors include chapters dedicated to explaining symptoms, administration, reaction time, and toxicity levels of everything from the classic cyanide and strychnine to household poisons, deadly plants, insects, snakes, medicine, industrial poisons, street drugs, chemical and biological weapons, and much more. Wherever possible, they’ve added bits of information that could provide even more interesting details for your lucky—and unlucky—characters. A glossary of medical terms and a handy cross-reference makes research fast and easy.
The 21st-Century Screenplay: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Tomorrow’s Films – Whether you want to write features, shorts, adaptations, genre films, ensemble films, blockbusters, or art house movies, this book is your road map, it takes you all the way from choosing a brilliant idea to plotting, writing, and rewriting a successful script. Featuring a range of insider survival tips on creativity under pressure, time-effective writing, and rising to the challenge of international competitions, The 21st-Century Screenplay is essential reading for newcomers and veterans alike.
Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! – This book is full of secret insider information about how to conquer the Hollywood studio system: how to write, pitch, structure, and get drunk with the best of them. Well… maybe not the best of them, but certainly the most successful of them. (If you’re aiming to win an Oscar, “this is not “the book for you!) But if you can type a little, and can read and speak English–then you too can start turning your words into $TACK$ OF MONEY!
Rewrite: A Step-By-Step Guide to Strengthening Structure, Characters, and Drama – If you’re writing a spec, you don’t want to show it to anyone until it’s in the best condition it could possibly be. The good news is that here, for the first time, is a practical, step-by-step guide to the most efficient and economical way to rewrite. From neophyte dabbler to award-winning scribe, anyone can use this book to help bring their screenplays to the next level.
Check out the books people have recommended to me, and let me know what you think. Enjoy!
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman is the Editor and Online Community Manager of Script Magazine and a webinar instructor for The Writers Store. She is Co-Founder and moderator of the weekly Twitter screenwriters’ chat, #Scriptchat, and wrote the narrative adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name, with its author, Douglas A. Blackmon, former senior national correspondent of The Wall Street Journal. Jeanne also is President of Implicit Productions and consults with writers on how to build and strengthen their online and offline networks as well as face their fears in order to succeed in writing and in personal peace – a screenwriter’s therapist. More information can be found on her blog, ramblings of a recovered insecureaholic. Follow @jeannevb on Twitter.