I’ve been thinking a lot about what books I benefited from when starting on in the business or along my path! Overall, I would say (and many writers would agree) that there’s not one singular book that is the end all be all. Or whose recommendations you should follow to the tee. I read a ton and pulled little pieces of wisdom from each book.
Often people get so outraged about a particular book and mock the author for only have produced 1 feature film. Not sure if it’s inspired by jealousy, or hatred of their movie, or what. But getting even 1 feature film produced and released might be one of the biggest accomplishments one can achieve. So if a fellow writer tells you that they don’t read books because they bastardize the craft, read it anyway and see what you can take from the book to help you learn more about writing. Here is a list of books that I have leaned on as well as recommendations from other writers who found value in these books.
Save The Cat – People feel like this book encourages a formulaic approach to writing a screen play. That is true and you don’t need to follow it exactly, but it’s helpful for understanding the basic structure of feature film. Also tips and tricks with character development and other things that help you in TV writing.
Story by Bob Mckee – It’s a lot more philosophical than formulaic. Especially useful for approaching second and third drafts.
Writing the TV Drama Series – If you’re interested in writing a TV drama, this is a great one to check out. She’s a professor at USC so this is a lot cheaper then tuition there!
Writing Dialogue – I think the title of the book says it all, but there’s more to this craft than meets the eye. Don’t write a single piece of dialogue until you know how to write for a character! It’s not as easy as it looks!
The TV Writers Workbook – Highly rated, 90% of those who read it, give it 5 stars! What I like most about this book is that it’s written by an actual TV writer. I have found tons of books that are not written by people who have produced anything and that is very frustrating. The best advice comes from those who have been in the trenches and know the truth behind the TV magic.
Sick in the head by Judd Apatow – This one is more about the process of comedy and the life of comedians. This isn’t a traditional writing process book, but nevertheless, an interesting look at life in comedy. It’s not all fun and games. In fact for many people there’s neither fun nor games! Read it to find out more. I love that Judd has this insane history or interviewing comics in high school because his passion for the genre is so deep.
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