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The Ultimate "How-to" Books for Writing Movies

If you want to be a screenwriter (or a director), the following books are highly recommended:

  1.  Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder. A classic “how-to” book for writing movies is Save the Cat, which gives a systematic approach to screenwriting based on the structure that almost all blockbuster movies have in common. That great idea you have for a movie? Read this book and you’ll find yourself sitting down—finally—to write it.

  2.  My Story Can Beat Up Your Story, by Jeffrey Alan Schechter. Another great book on structure. Are you having trouble with act two? Welcome to the club. But Schechter has a unique way to tackle act two. He uses the term “reversal pair.” First, it looks like your hero is going to reach her goal, then, she has a setback. That’s one “reversal pair.” Write 14 of those, and you’ve got a dynamite second act! Why is that so important? Because, in a 120-page script, your second act is 60 pages – half your movie!

  3. Making a Good Script Great, by Linda Seger. As you know, the process of writing is largely the process of re-writing. This book walks you through that critical endeavor.

  4. How to Write a Movie in 21 Days, by Viki King. Don’t be misled by the title—writing fast is not the point. This is a solid book with good information.

  5. The Hollywood Standard, by Christopher Riley. Unsure how to format a Flashback in your screenplay? You will find the answer in this book.


Bonus Tip: Print off the screenplays of your five favorite movies (usually available free online). Read them, mark them up, and read them again. You will be amazed what you learn!


Favorite software for writing a Screenplay: Final Draft.


So there you have it, five “must-read” books regarding the craft of screenwriting. What are some of your favorite books?

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