Top 22 Best Screenwriting Books Of All Time To Read [2022]

Best Screenwriting Books To Read
  • MatthewDusQues

People new to screenwriting often ask experienced screenwriters questions like “What books should you read to learn how to write screenplays?”

Reading a lot can help you learn a lot. You begin to understand the structure of a good story. You can sense rhythm and pacing. Some scripts grab you and hold on, while others drag you in and make it challenging to finish. These things will be evident if you read enough scripts. 

There are so many screenwriting books on the market that claim to be the best books on screenwriting. So how can you choose which one to buy? This blog post will give you my recommendations for the best screenwriting books and websites to help screenwriters start.

Best Screenwriting Books You Should Get Right Now

Best Books on Screenwriting To Read

We recommend that you read more books about the film industry and theory, such as:

Lew Hunter's Screenwriting...
87 Reviews
Getting it Write: An Insider's...
52 Reviews
The Idea: The Seven Elements...
574 Reviews
The Nutshell Technique: Crack...
518 Reviews
Screenplay: Writing the...
89 Reviews

Screenwriting 434 by Lew Hunter

Best books to learn screenplay writing

Film school can be expensive. Instead of paying thousands for a course, study with a screenwriting professor who has taught some of the most successful screenwriting classes in the world.

This book provides a great introduction to the experience of taking a screenwriting course. It also helps you to navigate your own story while you read and write.

Lew Hunter's Screenwriting...
87 Reviews

The 21st Century Screenplay by Linda Aronson

Best Screenplay Writing Book

Lew Hunter is a great screenwriting teacher. Some of his students have won awards for their screenwriting. He bills this book as The Industry’s Premier Teacher Reveals the Secrets of the Successful Screenplay, and he’s not wrong.

This book will help you write short films, feature films, adaptations, genre films, blockbusters, art house movies, and ensemble films.

The 21st Century Screenplay book is essential reading for both new and experienced screenwriters. It is one of the essential screenplay books you should ever read. It is a collection of many books that provides a complete, practical guide to screenwriting.

This includes everything from classics to the avant garde, from The African Queen and Tootsie to 21 Grams, Pulp Fiction, Memento, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

It offers a variety of survival tips, including how to write efficiently under pressure, creative expression insider survival tips, and rising to the challenges of international competition.

Screenwriting 434 can be described as a screenwriting course. You will be guided through the screen writing process in an interactive class like manner. As the book progresses, you’ll create your own story. This book is a great read and can save you thousands of dollars on film school.

Getting It Write by Lee Jessup

Best Books for Writing Screenplays

Very few screenwriting books address the issue many professional writers have once they’ve written a good script. This is the problem Jessup addresses in his screenwriting book. How to market your screenplay and yourself in the industry.

Although there is no magic formula for success, you can follow the practical advice to be far ahead of most aspiring screenwriters when it comes time to start a screenwriting career.

It is one of the essential screenwriting books you will ever read. Jessup is a sought after industry expert who understands the industry and the best ways to break into it and reach your goals.

The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage, or Fiction by Erik Bork

Screenwriting books are primarily concerned with story structure, scene writing, and navigating the business. These aspects come after the initial selection of the central story idea.

We state this on our Logline analysis service page: “The #1 mistake aspiring screenwriters make is digging into writing the script before they’ve had someone review the initial idea.”

The Idea addresses this problem head on. It will provide you with a complete arsenal of tools to road test your initial concepts and make them into bulletproof screenplays.

Why is this one of the most important screenwriting books you can read this year? While many books on screenwriting cover how to create an idea good enough for a feature film or TV series, this book devotes 200 pages to this topic. It’s a good choice. Without a solid idea, your script will be dead.

The Nutshell Technique by Jill Chamberlain

I enjoy starting with the smallest detail and building up from there. It’s like planting oak and then planting an acorn. That’s the nutshell technique, ladies and gentlemen.

The nutshell technique teaches you how to turn an exciting situation into a story, a method that whereby writers identify eight interconnected, dynamic elements that are necessary for a story to be told. Chamberlain is a script consultant. I liked her approach and found it a handy book.

Chamberlain guides readers through thirty classic and contemporary movies step by step. She demonstrates how screenplays such as Casablanca and Chinatown, Pulp Fiction and The Usual Suspects, Little Miss Sunshine, and Juno share the same system behind the scenes. And she shows readers how to apply these principles in their screenwriting.

Jill Chamberlain is a sought after script doctor. She focuses on one fact in this book: While many screenwriters can create engaging characters and write quick dialogue, few can craft a compelling story.

It’s the standard manual that professionals swear by. It’s also on the syllabus of film schools around the globe, including Columbia University’s renowned screenwriting program. It has been translated into Mandarin Chinese, Korean and Italian.

The Nutshell Technique: Crack...
518 Reviews

Screenplay: Writing the Picture by Russin, Robin U

The screenplay is a complete screenwriting course that covers everything you need to know about writing and rewriting.

This screenwriting book is comprehensive and well written. It contains illustrative examples of screenplays, tried and true writing strategies, veteran advice, and relevant writing anecdotes.

It explains why the first ten pages are so important, how to write visually, and how to approach adaptations. It is a comprehensive work that is as relevant today as it was when it was first published.

Robin U. Russin, a playwright, and screenwriter who has won numerous awards, is also a producer at the University of California, Riverside. He is also a screenwriting teacher. His film writing credits include the feature On Deadly Ground.

William Missouri Downs, an award winning playwright whose plays have been performed at the Kennedy Center and around the globe, is William Missouri Downs. Samuel French published two of his latest plays, Kosher Lutherans and Cockeyed.

Screenplay: Writing the...
89 Reviews

Into the Woods by John Yorke

A British screenwriter wrote the book. Yorke draws on fairy tales to show a five act structure. There are many references to TV shows and movies from the UK in this book. This is an excellent screenwriting book.

This course focuses on storytelling as an art form and story structure. It will inspire you to write again and bring a new sense of excitement.

This book is not a screenwriting book that only focuses on craft but instead takes the reader on an intellectual and psychological journey into the heart of storytelling.

Into the Woods, A Five Act Journey Into Story will be alongside Robert McKee’s Story, David Mamet’s Three Uses of the Knife, Syd Field’s Screenplay, and Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing as one of the most innovative, practical, and inspiring books on dramatic writing.

No Film School by Me and a Bunch of Other People

We’re not a book, wait! We’re not a book, I know. We also don’t cost anything. You click here to get 12 articles per week. I’m happy to talk with you about all the topics you’ll find in these books and more.

We keep talking about making all articles available as an e-book. We might. For now, however, you can learn about character development, arcs, three act structure, and five act structures, how to create a pilot, write scripts, make short films, beat sheets, outline, treatments, and screenplay downloads.

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

John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story is a great read. He details the 22 essential steps you must take to master storytelling. John Truby is best known for his successful films Scream and Shrek.

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps...
2,108 Reviews

Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc: The Secret to Crafting Extraordinary Screenplays by Marks, Dara

How do you write a great screenplay?

Whether you are a novice screenwriter or a seasoned Academy Award winner, every writer struggles with the same thing: getting to the excellent script within.

The inside story walks you step by step through a fantastic new screenwriting process that helps you identify your thematic intent, what your story is about and shows you how to make that intention the driving force behind all of your creative decisions.

This creates a deep relationship between plot movement and character development, which is the basis for the transformational arch. The deeper structure within the story is called the transformational arc.

The arc can be used to enhance your ability to:

  • Your unique point of view
  • Give urgency and meaning to your line of action
  • Your characters will be more prosperous, more subtle, and more surprising.
  • Create a strong emotional undercurrent
  • Your stories should stand out, so you get noticed

The inside story is precisely what its name suggests: Inside Story gives you the inside scoop on how and when to create a great screenplay that has depth, dimension, substance, and substance. This book is essential reading for any screenwriter, playwright, or novelist.

Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect by Claudia Hunter-Johnson

This book is my favorite. Writing short scripts is problematic. It’s where everyone should begin. It houses Le Menu, my favorite exercise. This helps you identify important stories and the needs of the characters in your story.

Le Menu requires that the writer create five to ten answers for each of the questions. Once you’re done, you can start dozens of stories. This eliminates almost all excuses for Writer’s Block.


Answer the following prompts with five to ten answers

  • What I love
  • What I hate
  • What I fear
  • What I believe
  • What I value
  • What I want
  • What I know about
  • People who made a difference in my life
  • Discoveries that made a difference in my life
  • Decisions that made a difference in my life

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit is written by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Guarantee. It’s a humorous and charming approach to writing movies that make over a billion dollars. This book is a beautiful tool for filmmakers. It provides a humorous yet honest account of what it’s like to work as a screenwriter.

This book is not a bland screenplay. It’s all about making that money. They are working writers—credits for movies that you’ve seen.

You will never need another screenwriting book. These pages contain valuable tips that Garant and Lennon won’t be able to find elsewhere, such as:

  • The art of pitching
  • Getting your foot in front of the door
  • Taking tips from movie stars
  • How to get fired and rehired
  • How to get credit and royalties

The most important thing is what to buy with all the money you have.

Writing Movies for Fun and...
408 Reviews

Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman

Two time Academy Award winning screenwriter 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 his own professional experiences and creative thought processes in the crafting of screenplays.

This book is my favorite. It describes what it’s like to work in Hollywood as a writer and how it feels to deal with Hollywood’s most powerful executives. This is more than anything. William Goldman demonstrates what it means to conduct yourself with grace and class.

Your Screenplay Sucks! by William M. Akers

We love Your Screenplay Sucks! It’s a novel title that takes a different approach, but it is excellent! The book is as helpful and insightful as you could imagine.

This book will help you, as an aspiring writer, to grasp the fundamentals and become proficient in screenwriting. It is a great way to improve your screenwriting craft.

William M. Akers’s no-nonsense approach is one of its most significant selling points. It is concise and to the point. This book will teach you a lot. This book is a must read.

The Screenwriter’s Bible

The 25th anniversary marks the 7th edition of The Screenwriter’s Bible, one of the most renowned, authoritative, and valuable books about screenwriting.

It is a standard for screenwriting books and has been sold more than 340,000 copies over its 25-year lifespan.

It is always up to date, reliable, and contains everything that budding and working screenwriters need five books under one roof!

  • Screenwriting primer that gives a quick overview of screenwriting basics
  • Screenwriting Workbook: This guide walks you through every step from initial ideas to final revisions.
  • This Formatting Guide covers all the current formats for TV scripts and screenplays.
  • A-Spec Writing Guide, which demonstrates today’s spec style via sample scenes and analysis. The emphasis is on grabbing the reader’s attention in the first ten chapters.
  • This guide will help you to create a marketing plan that is laser sharp by using proven strategies.

This book is filled with practical information, including sample query letters, worksheets and checklists, hundreds, examples, scenes, and clear explanations of basics.

The 7th edition contains many new examples, the most recent practices, and material on alternative screenplay outlets.

The Screenwriter's Bible, 7th...
1,116 Reviews

On Writing by Stephen King

Best books on creative writing

Stephen King is a legend in writing. He has written some of the best screenwriting books ever written. The book centers on King’s life story, and it takes you through his story. It also explains his writing style.

Stephen King’s bits and pieces will help you improve your writing skills tenfold. The books are also a great read. The world would have missed some great classics if it hadn’t been for his incredible life story.

This special edition of Stephen King’s bestselling, multimillion copy bestseller is beneficial and informative for the aspiring screenwriter. It shares his experiences, beliefs, and convictions, which are invaluable and can help others.

Relate: Top 30+ Best Stephen King Books Ranked From Worst To Best [2022]

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Best books on filmmaking

Stories have been told for thousands of years by people, from ancient myths to modern web series. This book documents that progression and focuses on how ancient mythology influences television and movies today.

Christopher Vogler, the author, based his work upon Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. He emphasizes the timeless tropes that have worked overtime. His work focuses on The Hero with A Thousand Faces and how it applies to society today.

This book is unique because it feels very personal. It’s almost like someone is rooting in your direction. This screenwriting book will help you grow and develop as an individual.

The Guide For Every Screenwriter

I was screenwriting made easy. The Guide for Every Screenwriter provides the most efficient instruction manuals for screenwriting.

This book is not full of exposition. It gets to the point and provides templates and sample driven outlines that anyone can use.

It’s easy to use and provides a checklist to help you with the writing process. This book is for professionals who need a refresher or anyone wanting to learn how to the screenplay.

The Guide for Every...
115 Reviews

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder

It’s perhaps the most famous and infamous book ever written on screenwriting, and it’s one that I recommend most to new writers.

Save the Cat breaks down the structure into crucial plot points to help newbies understand the most basic story structures. Although the book is criticized for its likable characters fallacy, it’s still worth listing because it will help you master simple structure.

Story by Robert McKee

I will not be offended if you see me promoting myself as one. This is the definitive guide for the most accomplished screenwriters, both aspiring and experienced. I hate screenwriting gurus.

Screenwriting professors are my favorite. In case you were wondering. Every article I write here is a lecture to a class. Although my lectures aren’t as expensive as Robert McKee’s, I don’t care about how he makes his income. Robert McKee does an excellent job of explaining the history of stories and entertaining even the most educated.

Three Uses of the Knife by David Mamet

Are you guys familiar with Mamet’s Spartan movie? It’s so good. Val Kilmer is a sexy slug.

This book of David Mamet stands out because it is written from a purely magical angle. The principles of playwriting are the same. He believes that dramatization is an essential part of human nature. We create drama from everything, including weather and elections next year. The theater is the best expression of this drive.

It’s not about entertaining or selling but about leaving something meaningful to the audience. Your story matters are essential. It will make you believe it. These words were written for another website, and I wanted them to be here.

Three Uses of the Knife: On...
193 Reviews

Screenwriters on Screen-Writing

Screenwriters on Screenwriting introduces the Screenwriters of Screen-Writing, responsible for some of the most acclaimed and successful films in Hollywood history.

Each interview focuses on the craft and technique involved in creating a film blueprint. The writers also tell how they got to the top of the industry and how they brought their stories to life.

These screenwriters and others have attracted the attention of movie goers through their words and with headlines that announced the sale of their scripts for hundreds, thousands, and sometimes even millions of dollars.

This fascinating compendium combines the best of modern day filmmaking’s most talented screenwriters to make it easy for anyone interested in making movies, writing about them, or learning more about them.

Screenwriters interviewed include:

Bruce Joel Rubin (Ghost), Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs), Horton Foote (To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies), Andrew Bergman (The In-Laws), Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands), Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King), and Robert Towne (Chinatown, Shampoo), Amy Holden Jones (Indecent Proposal).

Screenwriters on...
18 Reviews


We helped you understand how each screenwriting book could help you tell your story and open doors in your career. Some people make a top ten screenwriting books list. We hope the above best screenwriting books list will help improve your screenwriting skills.

Last update on 2022-04-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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