Back in June 2013, I wrote a blog post listing ten books I found had proven useful to me, and recommended fellow writers take a look.
Since then, I’ve honed in on screenwriting as a way to improve my novel writing. It’s been something of a natural progression for me, as I grew up during the time of films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, and Crocodile Dundee, then progressed to film extra work in my twenties and still have a love of cinema today – especially the ‘behind the scenes’ tricks of the trade.
It seems fitting, then, to have a new blog post here to list (in no particular order) my favourite screenwriting books on the bookshelf – the ones I return to when I feel the need to kick my own writing up the backside. If you click on the image of the book cover, you’ll be taken through to the Amazon link for each title
Alexandra Sokoloff: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters!)
This book has been in my writing arsenal for nearly two years now, and has been heavily bookmarked on my Kindle. Sokoloff guides the writer through the development of a novel by dividing it into a five-act story, the same technique used by screenwriters and playwrights. There are lots of examples using well-known films throughout, and it’s a very entertaining read. The good news is that this previously eBook-only guide will soon be released as a paperback format. Check out Alexandra Sokoloff’s website here to sign up for updates.
Blake Snyder: Save the Cat!
I love the way Snyder sets out the lessons in this book, all based on the vast experience he gained working in the industry. Both generous with his information and self-depreciating in his anecdotes, the late Snyder’s take on the screenwriting “how to” guide is something I return to time and time again, and always learn from.
David Morrell: The Successful Novelist
I’m cheating a bit with this one, as David Morell’s book isn’t necessarily about screenwriting, but does draw on his experience publishing First Blood, and then seeing that book be transformed into the first of the Rambo films starring Sylvester Stallone. Not quite as biographical as, say, Stephen King’s On Writing, what Morrell’s The Successful Novelist does do is explain the business of seeing a novel transformed into a screenplay, and then building on that to describe what cinematic tricks can be applied to thriller writing.
Of course, there are many screenwriting books out there, and I also have a copy of Syd Field’s classic, Screenplay, on the desk next to me here amongst others. However, the three books I’ve listed above have been the most enjoyable for me to read during my writing journey and are those that I know I’ll be re-reading in years to come.
Do you use screenwriting techniques in your writing? What common tricks do you see other novelists using? As always, I’d love to hear from you.