more screenwriting books…

Posted by admin  /   May 08, 2009  /   Posted in Recommended Screenwriting Reading  /   2 Comments

Some more recommended books about screen-writing that may be of interest:-

The Pitch by Eileen Quinn & Judy Counihan

As far as I’m aware the only UK book specifically about pitching, treatments etc, and by people who work in the industry and know from personal experience what works and what doesn’t.

Conversations With My Agent by Rob Long

Gives a really good insight into the working life of a successful US writer. And it’s very funny.

Bambi vs. Godzilla : On the Nature, Purpose & Practice of the Movie Business by David Mamet.

A good section on ‘the screenplay’ – also ‘technique’, ‘genre’ and other interesting insights.

Monster : Living Off the Big Screen by John Gregory Dunne.

A fascinating insight into the work of a US screenwriter

Do The Right Thing by Spike Lee

As well as the screenplay, the book contains Lee’s journal about the writing and making of the film.

Going Mad In Hollywood by David Sherwin.

Autobiography by the writer of ‘If’ and ‘O, Lucky Man!’

Save The Cat! By Blake Snyder

A lot of this book did nothing for me – far too much structure that came across as formula, and a lot of the movies he references – eg Aladdin – don’t really inspire. But as with all these books it’s a question of cherry-picking – there are some gems in there if you look hard enough. In this book it’s the end section – his insights on various ‘rules’ of screenwriting that he’s formulated stumbled upon in his years as a screenwriter.


Philip Shelley


  1. Anthony Rothe March 31, 2012 11:20 am

    You would probably agree that the efficacy of a good screenwriting book is relative to the leval of the writer – some are entry-level, others more advanced, but there are few from which I have learned little or nothing.

    I have read dozens of good books on the subject but only one great one (well, two if you count Aristotle) – John Truby’s “The Anatomy of Story” – 22 steps to becoming a Master Storyteller.

    Worth a look are a couple by British writers: David Baboulene’s “The Story Book: A Writer’s Guide to Story Development, Principles, Problem-solving and Marketing”


    Paul Ashton’s “A Writer’s toolbox for stage, screen and radio”. Paul is the Development Producer for the BBC’s Writersroom.

  2. fraser may April 28, 2012 5:57 am

    Dear Phil

    thanks for your latest email. Up to date and informative as ever, especially the insights on football. what beter example of the underdog than the 4-4 at old trafford last week? Everton, insipid at wembley but magnificent at the theate of dreams (why couldnt they do it at the soulless bowl known as wembley the week before?)
    Your team are playing at Goodison today I think? That reminds me of an incident a couple of seasons ago when Fulham came up to attend their usual defeat. A well dressed gentleman in loafers and Barbour coat inquired of a local hoodie as to where the away supporters sit. The hoodie looked the raffish chap up and down and replied. “Fuck me lad, i had yer down as a friggin Blue nose!” the Fulham supporter blanched as he made his way to the turnstile .
    As for telly this week. I loved the Shiela Hancock Paul O grady play on sky Arts. Full of warmth and humanity. A little twee but you could forgive it that because of the performances. Thanks again for your bulletins.