Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

The Screenwriting Community’s Favorite Books for Scribes

I recently conducted a survey of screenwriters to learn more about what makes them tick: when do they write? Where do they write? What type of content do they find most useful? And where did they LEARN to write a screenplay? The last question was revealing: So many screenwriters never went to film school. They learned the craft by reading a ton of screenplays and the top screenwriting books. And you can, too. We asked the screenwriting community to name what they believe are the best screenwriting books for screenplay how-to’s, and here’s what they said, in no particular order.

With one click

Export a perfectly formatted traditional script.

Try SoCreate for free!

Write Like This...
...Export To This!
Screenwriting books

Best Screenwriting Books for Scribes:

  • The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structures for Writers, by Christopher Vogler

    The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structures for Writers” is one the best screenwriting books to teach you how to use mythic stories and character archetypes to strengthen the relatability and universality of your screenplay.

  • Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder

    Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need” is a candid look at the business of making movies, structure, genres, beats, and loglines, plus rules for making your script more marketable. I’d argue it’s one of the best screenwriting books for beginners, and it’s one of the first books on screenwriting that I ever read!

  • The Screenwriter’s Bible, by David Trottier

    The Screenwriter’s Bible” is called “the bible” for a reason! This book covers just about everything you’d need to know as an aspiring or professional screenwriter. My favorite thing about the screenwriter’s bible is the screenwriting glossary in the back. You can find an answer to just about any screenwriting question by combing through these final pages.

  • Creating Character Arcs, by K.M. Weiland (plus associated workbooks)

    Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development” offers a deep dive into how to create story beats that build realistic and compelling character arcs within a three-act structure.

  • The Pocket Screenwriting Guide: 120 Tips for Getting to FADE OUT, by Mario O. Moreno and Anthony Grieco

    The Pocket Screenwriting Guide: 120 Tips for Getting to FADE OUT” is a screenwriting guide that leads you through storytelling with 120 tips, which also happens to be the standard page length for a two-hour feature film.

  • Anatomy of Story, by John Truby

    Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller” is written by a Hollywood story consultant. This is a good screenwriting book that draws on philosophy and mythology, offering up secrets and new techniques to build an effective narrative.

  • On Writing, by Stephen King

    On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” is a writing memoir that delves into the experiences, writing habits, and convictions from King’s storied career and work, detailing the tools that he thinks every writer should have. This is another inspiring read for anyone looking for writing books for beginners. It’s a great place to start.

  • Story, by Robert McKee

    Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting” makes for an “intense learning experience,” according to McKee’s students. McKee has helped launched the writing careers of many celebrity screenwriters, so this is a good starting place for writers looking for the best screenwriting books for beginners.

  • The Hollywood Standard, by Christopher Riley

    Are you looking to brush up on your formatting skills? “The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style” uses hundreds of real examples and walks you through formatting scripts for TV and movies.

  • Into the Woods, by John Yorke

    Into the Woods: A Five-Act Journey Into Story” investigates the heart of storytelling, showing there’s a unifying shape to the best narratives.

  • The Hidden Tools of Comedy, by Steve Kaplan

    The Hidden Tools of Comedy: The Serious Business of Being Funny” will help writers understand the mechanics of comedy and how to work comedic situations into their script in a way that translates to humor.

Are you looking for free screenwriting books or screenwriting book PDFs? Some of our favorites can be found below:

Best Free Screenwriting Books and Screenwriting Book PDFs:

Do you have any other good screenwriting books that helped your screenwriting career? Send us a tweet at @SoCreate and help us build out this list!

Just keep reading,

You may also be interested in...

6 Tips for Setting Strong Writing Goals

Let’s face it. We’ve all been there. We try to set writing goals for ourselves, and we totally fail. It can be hard to work on your screenplay when you have another full-time job, a family to take care of, or any access to the biggest distraction of all…the Internet. No need to feel bad; it happens to us all. Let’s look to the future and start leaving those feelings of disappointment behind! Let’s set some strong writing goals using these 6 tips! 1. Create a calendar. While it may feel frustratingly time consuming, take an hour and write your goal deadlines out on a calendar. This can be a physical, paper calendar...

Holiday Gift Guide: Top 5 Gifts for Screenwriters

Wondering what to gift the special writer in your life? You’ve given them notebooks, and screenwriting how-to books, and writer’s block prompts, and now you’ve hit gifting blocks of your own. SoCreate is here to help you find the perfect present that’s surprising, unusual, and most importantly, useful. We’ve assembled a list of top gifts for screenwriters that will get them excited and ready to write their next blockbuster hit! Screenwriting Gift 1: Airbnb Gift Card: Sometimes all a writer needs to break writer’s block is a change of scenery. Gift your screenwriter a getaway – whether it’s a quiet...

Fall in Love With These Romantic Movie Screenwriters

Love them or hate them, mushy films about love are here to stay. Whether you love love or can’t stand the site of heart-shaped candy, there’s something special to be said about the screenwriters who tug at our heartstrings with stories of finally meeting our someone. The following romance writers have found a place in the hearts of millions of viewers around the globe. What’s a love story without a great ending? Casablanca, one of the greatest romance movies of all time, almost didn’t have one. “When we began, we didn’t have a finished script,” said screenwriter Howard Koch. “Ingrid...