Monday, August 13, 2012

Screenwriting Resources to DIE for


Below is a list of materials I'd be lost without. If you're into screenwriting, you may find some (or all!) or them useful:


Save the Cat: The last book on screenwriting that you’ll ever need – Blake Snyder. Ironically Save the Cat was the first book on screenwriting I’d heard other fiction writers talk about and thus the first one I purchased…but I do return to it again and again.
Save the Cat: Goes to the movies. The screenwriter’s guide to every story ever told – Blake Snyder. Main plot points of films identified so you can make them happen in your own tales.
The Coffee Break Screenwriter – Pilar Alessandra. Fantastic resource for plot structure and dividing the task of writing a complete script into bite sized, manageable sections.
Your Screenplay Sucks: 100 ways to make it great – William M. Akers. I find this to be the best revision tool around. I use it for fiction manuscripts as well. It helps you identify problem areas and kick the snot out of them.
Four Screenplays. Studies in the American Screenplay: An analysis of four groundbreaking contemporary classics – Syd Field. Wonderful breakdown of Thelma & Louise, Terminator 2, The Silence of the Lambs and Dances with Wovles. In terms of understanding what makes a story work – this beast is priceless.
Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 most powerful film conventions every filmmaker must know – Jennifer Van Sijll. You’ll never watch a movie the same way again…and it will help you place your fictional cast on your stage with more finesse and creativity than ever before.


The Shooting Script series – as with writing fiction, the best way to learn what works is to READ. Here are some of the scripts I’ve purchased, but I also follow the Scott Myers blog for script evaluations and industry insight.
A Knight’s Tale – Brian Helgeland – great example of how to incorporate music, as well as take on a period piece with humour.
Dan in Real Life – Pierce Gardner and Peter Hedges – heartwarming example of family drama / romantic comedy.
Stranger than Fiction – Zack Helm – seriously brilliant…and offers tons of insight into the creation of the script.
Juno – Diablo Cody – groundbreaking, wicked cool and reads every bit as quirky as the film.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once more with feeling (the musical script book) – Joss Whedon – includes the sheet music for the songs Whedon composed for this episode, that’s right – words AND music, the background to its creation and then…the very cool script itself.
SIDE NOTE: I also study other script formats, such as graphic novels. Here are some resources if you’re interested…
Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative: Principles and practices from the legendary cartoonist – Will Eisner. Great insight in the development of comics and how to combine words with images.
Panel Discussions with industry storytellers – Durwin S. Talon. Everything you’ve wanted to ask about graphic novels…with real answers.
Panel One: Comic book scripts by top writers – Nat Gertler. Featuring scripts by Neil Gaiman, Jeff Smith, Kurt Busiek and more!

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