Favorite Books



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  • Favorite Books

    Some veteran screenwriters say books are a waste of time and that the only way you can learn the craft is by reading screenplays. Well, they have a point: READ LOTS OF SCREENPLAYS. But, these screenplay guides offer some voluable instruction (and some do not). What are your favorites? I'll start:

    You can tell from my reviews, my favorite guides are "How NOT to Write a Screenplay," "Secrets of Screenplay Structure", "Script Magic", and "500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Reader".

    Read the review at:


    Now your turn!


  • #2
    I still think Bill Goldman's newest, "Which Lie Did I Tell?" is a really great read. Intermixed with the anecdotes and stories are pointers on how to write a screenplay. He even includes a real "our eyes only" rough first draft by written by himself which is then criticized mercilessly by some of his friends for all to read. Entertaining and eductional both - how can you beat that?

    Bill Marquardt


    • #3
      Which is better, Goldman's first book or his second? Is the new one an update to the first book?

      Oh and what about your least favorite books, guys? Anyone check out


      • #4

        "Writing Screenplays That Sell" by Michael Hauge is the least useful of the screenplay guides.

        Linda Seger's books are terrific, and Syd Field's "The Screenwriter's Problem Solver" is the best of his series--simply because of the chapter on conflict.

        As for formatting, the Cole/Haag guide is all anyone needs. Could use a little revision though-some of the style tips such as "Cut To" are outdated.

        For writing in general, all should have a copy of "Wild Mind" by Natalie Goldman.


        • #5
          My other post must have cut out. My least favorbook is "Fitzgerald Did It" -- YIKES! Anyone read this one?


          • #6
            new books

            Does anyone have info on "The Screenwriter's Legal Guide" by Breimer, or "Hello, He Lied" by Lynda Obst?

            I saw them in the bookstore & thought they might be good additions to the shelf. Any thoughts, anyone?


            • #7
              Screenwriter's Legal Guide

              Come on Callit!!! I've got that review up Check out:


              and click on "The Screenwriter's Legal Guide."




              • #8
                Re: Screenwriter's Legal Guide

                Well my favorites are "Conversations with My Agent," by Rob Long, and "A Martian Wouldn't Say That," which is packed somewhere so I can't look up the authors and out of print -- which is too bad because it is a very funny collection of bizarre notes writers have actually received. (Someone needs to reprint that book.)


                • #9
                  Re: Screenwriter's Legal Guide

                  Sorry, J,

                  You caught me with my pen in my holder. I read the review. Guess what I'm buying this week.

                  Thanks for the tip/rip/admonishment/review/advice.


                  • #10
                    Re: Screenwriter's Legal Guide

                    Hi, everybody!

                    I've been looking at this topic for a while, and I haven't seen anything about a book by Robert McKee called
                    STORY. Does anybody know this book? If so, what are your thoughts on it?




                    • #11
                      Re: Story by McKee

                      I own "Story", and read it six months ago. It is a pretty thorough treatment on the craft of screenwriting, and very well written. It gives you the text book approach to screenwriting, and I've been told it's more or less a condensation of the course McKee teaches. I felt Syd Field's book was a little easier to read.


                      • #12
                        Mckee et al

                        Callit, I've read "Hello he lied" and found it real interesting. Made me want to rush out an contact Ms Obst. But our tastes might differ, because I found Michael Hauge's book really interesting and helpful. More so than Syd Fields and many others.

                        Todd3, Mckee's story is excellent, but damn, it's pretty highfalutin. If you're prepared to read the same sentence about three times to grasp what he's getting at, it's damn good stuff.

                        Jason, I enjoyed "Hello he Lied", but I thought "Adventures" was better. Goldman writes in a really conversational style which is fun and it's interesting to read how he often lacks confidence to get writing. His script is also interesting (though IMHO, not particularly good - and damn, I know how pretentious that sounds, sorta like dissing the king) and the comments by his writer friends show just how subjective reading a screenplay can be.

                        A book I found to be pretty good is "The Whole Picture" by Richard Walter, and probably my favorite of all time is Christopher Vogler's "The Writer's Journey".


                        • #13
                          THE WHOLE PICTURE

                          I thought Robert McKee's STORY was intelligent, but certainly not difficult. I learned an enormous amount about story construction.

                          I have generally been able to get something out of all the books I've read on screenwriting. Considering that I seek to make this my career, the slightest insight is worth the 10 or 20 bucks most of these books cost.

                          I would absolutely not be without either of Richard Walter's books on the subject: SCREENWRITING and THE WHOLE PICTURE. As comprehensive and invaluable as McKee's work is, Walter is a necessity, a teacher in a very pure sense of the word. He offers not just formatting tips or techniques for story construction, character development, and writing dialogue, though he certainly covers all of this, but Walter also gives you very specific homework. He offers exercises. The kind of exercises that will leave you wondering if you have what it takes to pick up the pieces on a development deal, much less create a feature from scratch.

                          By the time you figure out who Ike Warshaw is, you know whether or not you want to risk your life writing screenplays...


                          • #14
                            The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters - Karl Iglesias

                            How NOT to Write a Screenplay (mentioned above)

                            Monster: Living Off the Big Screen - John Gregory Dunne (a helluva wake-up call, this one!)


                            • #15
                              Two of my favorites....

                              Two of my favorite screenwriting books are.....

                              The Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier
                              Making a Good Writer Great: A Creativity Workbook For Screenwriters by Linda Seger

                              And if you ever need just a book to get your creative juices flowing there is a book by the name of Story Starters (Author: Lou Willett Stanek, PH.D.).

                              I'm currently remember a book I had by the name of "Screenwriting For The Soul" or was it "From The Soul". Anyway, I lost it and never had the chance to read it. I wonder if I should miss it?