3 Great Books For Screenwriters

The books on this list aren’t about how to write screenplays; there are countless books on that subject. These books are for those of us who are learning to write screenplays, and it isn’t practical to leave their day jobs to work in the film and television industry.  These books provide general knowledge about how the American film industry works. I’m Canadian, but that doesn’t change the fact that Hollywood still has the greatest influence.

On The Set: The Hidden Rules of Movie Making Etiquette (2012) by Paul J. Salamoff

One way to learn about how film sets operate is working as a Film Extra (Background Performer) but depending on an individual’s work schedule and family responsibilities this may not be practical. On The Set is an excellent primer on how the many roles work together to make a movie take shape. This book will help you learn the language of filmmakers.

What Happens Next: A History of American Screenwriting (2007) by Mark Norman

Although there are many thriving film industries around the globe, for many screenwriters, Hollywood and the American film industry is still the dream. What Happens Next describes how screenwriters were  involved in the evolution of the film industry. I remember watching an instruction video by a screenwriting guru that begins with him driving his European sports car past palm trees, on a beautiful day with clear skies. What Happens Next tells you about the storms.

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency (2016) by James A. Miller

How do deals get made in Hollywood? Although, as the title states, this book is about the history of the Creative Artists Agency, it also offers a clear picture of how deals are made in the film industry and how agents promote their clients. Before reading Powerhouse I understood that they represented their clients, but I had no idea how many other services they provide.  This is a fascinating look at how the players in Hollywood interact with each other.

Reading about the history of the film industry and how deals are completed is fascinating, but it doesn’t replace the essential learning experience of any writer, and that is actually writing. I enjoy watching interviews with famous writers on YouTube, visiting their websites, and reading their books, but if I’m not committed to sitting down and doing the hard work of putting my thoughts on paper, I’ll never reach my goal of becoming a full-time writer.  I hope that you’ll find some time this week to write, because you have unique stories, and unique points of view that only you can share with the world.

Copyright © 2017 by J. Paul Cooper







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