When anyone first starts their screenwriting journey, one of the first things they’ll do is buy a few books on the subject. There’s only so much information you can get from a YouTube video or an interview clip, after all, and there’s a certain appeal to the idea that you’re gathering a collection of resources that are going to be by your side along the way. Plus having a physical guide that you can pick up off the shelf and refer to feels almost like having your own personal mentor during those early days of doubt and discovery.
Screenwriting has been around for over a century now, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that everything about the subject has already been written, but you’ll still find new books being published every year offering up different techniques, different structures, and different viewpoints on how to tell a story, meaning that screenwriting is a fluid format that’s always developing.
That said, many of the fundamentals have stayed the same, and a good screenwriting book that teaches you more about them is worth its weight in gold.
There are always a certain few of these books that are consistently recommended and this list comes from my own personal experience. I’ve been reading screenplays professionally for nearly a decade, and have amassed a small library of books about screenwriting, but there are some that I still go back and refer to again and again.
1. Teach Yourself Screenwriting by Ray Frensham.
This is the first book I ever read on the subject and it remains one of the most comprehensive, especially for beginner writers. It covers literally everything, from generating ideas right up to breaking into the industry. Even though some of the advice may be a little dated by now, the writing advice is solid, easily digestible, and full of examples. This is by far my go-to book on screenwriting.
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