I grew up wanting to write novels, pretty much from the time I began to learn how to read. However, in my teens and throughout my twenties, I was distracted by the allure of Hollywood. So, most of my “writing education” came through learning how to become a screenwriter. I studied it both in and outside of school and the following five books became influencers. I don’t have any regrets about my years of “distraction” because I believe that studying the art of the screenplay provided me with a much stronger sense of strong dialogue and story structure than I would have had without it. So, whether screenwriting is your goal or not, for anyone who wants to create great stories, I would highly recommend the critical education the following five books provide.
The first book on the list is the first book on screenwriting I ever read and one of the most influential books on the subject to date. When you study the structure Syd Field lays out and then turn on a DVD, you can practically set a stop watch to most movies in the modern era and watch the precision unfold.
This inside look at the movie industry is an equally fascinating and entertaining read. The most educational part, however, comes with the peek into Goldman’s own creative process. After all, the guy wrote “Marathon Man” and “The Princess Bride” — he knows what he’s doing!
Perhaps the only book to rank as high as Syd Field’s in terms of influence, McKee offers an even more comprehensive look at the methods behind creating a great script. Quite simply, it’s a master class on the craft of writing for the screen.
As a writer, when someone asks my what I’m working on or about one of my books, my tendency is to want to go into a long explanation. Kosberg taught me how to whittle my ideas down to as few words as possible. If you can accomplish that feat before you even begin writing a script or a book, you’ll have the heart of your story at the forefront of your mind throughout the entire journey.
Equally masterful as Syd Field or Robert McKee before her, Hunter takes the basics you learned in the four previous books and shows you how to polish your lump of coal into the diamond you always knew it could be.