This is only an opening stab at starting to put together a resourceful/inspiration page for you crazy screenwriting kids (of all ages).
A short bio. I took a Michael Hauge class in 1998, then wrote two screenplays, then drifted into novels for 20 years and then in 2017 returned to the craft and took an amazing class from Katiedid Langrock (!). She. Is. Awesome.
Fast-forward to now: I’m polishing two screenplays, two teleplay drama pilots, and a ‘Rick & Morty’ spec.
Here’s the books that have most helped me along the way —
Great General Writing Books
If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland — This book gave me confidence and made me believe I had something valuable to say.
On Writing by Stephen King — A great book and I still think about his suggestions often — read it!
Word Work by Bruce Holland Rogers — It’s been awhile since read this one, but there is a beauty and urgency to the way he talks about the writing life.
Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) by Orson Scott Card — I learned a TON early on from him about both of the subjects in the title.
Screenwriting Books That Helped Me as a Beginner
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler — This was my go-to book for years and years. A great way to think about this form of storytelling, even after you move beyond it.
Screenwriting 434 by Lew Hunter — Oh Lew! The memories! My first screenplay book. Not as dynamic as some later but it was the perfect intro for someone who knew next to nothing about the form and format.
Screenwriting Books That Helped Me as I Grew More Experienced
Screenplay by Syd Field — I just read Sid’s book last year! I read a 90s copy (don’t know if the material’s changed but I really enjoyed it). Felt more like Sid the normal person than the towering, mythic figure he’s become over the landscape today. And LOVE some of his suggestions on description — why aren’t we seeing that done more often?
Writing the TV Drama by Pamela Douglas — A great peek inside a fast-changing industry. Probably a little outdated, but so’s an article written this morning when it comes to internet TV. 😉
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder — Katiedid Langrock suggested this book to me — and boy, I’m glad she did! I overcame an earlier resistance and now LOVE it. Don’t get turned off by the formula; there’s plenty of screenwriting gold in here.
Writing The Pilot by William Rabkin — The best book I’ve read in this niche category. Lots of good ideas and smart suggestions.
The Hollywood Standard (Format & Style) by Christopher Riley — If you have ‘Final Draft’ (and you should) you may find this unnecessary. But formatting is SO important and we see professionals doing it differently from one another and still getting paid, so I feel happier knowing more and having a solid resource to turn to when I have a question (or at least someone to second crazywriterbohocatsplatter5′s answer from the internet).
Your Screenplay Sucks (100 Ways to Make it Great) by William M. Akers — I saved the best for last. If you get one book on this list, make it this one. It’s amazing. And it pulls no punches. It will make you a better writer. Just a fantastic book.