Here’s my recommendations:
Poetics by Aristotle
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field
Story by Robert McKee
Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
The 21st Century Screenplay by Linda Aronson
Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale: The Final Chapeter by Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook
The Insider’s Guide to Writing for Television by Julian Friedmann and Christopher Walker
If you know of others that have really helped you, let us know by adding a comment.
If you want to write screenplays you need to be watching lots of films and reading lots of scripts. To help you, those lovely people at Raindance Film Festival have put up lots of Oscar-nominated scripts for you to read here.
And when you’ve read all those, why not read lots of other scripts? There’s a list over on Script Angel of lots of great places on the web to find scripts to download for free, including lots of UK television and radio scripts from BBC Writersroom and lots of feature films from Simply Scripts and many others.
Having set up Script Angel, my own script consultancy business, I recently decided to join The Word Cloud – a forum for experienced and aspiring writers. What struck me was how hungry for ‘insider’ knowledge the writers are. There may be information out there for aspiring writers but how do they know where to look?
Over the past ten years I’ve been lucky enough to earn my living as a professional script editor on a variety of UK television dramas. Now, taking a break from the hectic pace of script editing on dramas in production, I’ve set up my own script consultancy business. What’s struck me is how cosy it is inside the world of television professionals and how hard it is for writers on the outside to even understand how it works, let alone to break into it.
I’ve been very fortunate to work with hugely talented editorial teams and, most importantly, exceptionally talented writers. They, and I, earn our living from writing/editing drama that millions of people will watch – and it’s only now stepping outside it (albeit with my foot firmly lodged in the door to stop it closing) that I appreciate how impenetrable the whole industry must appear. The writers I work with, without exception, have earned their position as a professional writer by combining sheer creative talent with hard work and determination. But what we take for granted is the knowledge, gained after years in the industry, of what to do to turn an idea into something that will ultimately get made.
Through my blog and Script Angel I’d like to help writers find the information they need and understand how the industry works. I want to help them get their scripts into the best possible shape so that when they do decide to send it to someone in the industry (agent, production company, etc) their work is the best it can possibly be. Over the weeks I’ll blog not only on my experiences as a script editor but I’ll also try to pull together as much information as I can about what to do to become a professional screenwriter.
As well as checking out Script Angel, it’s other worth checking out Michelle Lipton’s Blog – a talented writer just starting to get her first commissions and helping others to understand the process as she goes through it.