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The 5 Best Screenwriting Books

If you’re an aspiring screenwriter looking to hone your craft, you’re in luck. I’ve compiled a list of the top five best screenwriting books to help you develop your storytelling skills.

Whether you’re a beginner taking your first steps into the world of screenwriting or an experienced writer looking to refine your skills, these books have something to offer everyone.

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1. Story by Robert McKee

Best for: Beginners to Advanced Screenwriters

No list of the best screenwriting books would be complete without the inclusion of “Story” by Robert McKee.

This book is widely recognised as a seminal work on the art of screenwriting. Its content is dense, filled with complex principles that may require multiple readings to fully grasp. McKee’s insights will benefit both beginners and advanced screenwriters, making it a must-read for anyone serious about the craft.

2. Into The Woods by John Yorke 

Best for: Breaking Free from Three-Act Structure

“Into The Woods” by John Yorke is the perfect choice for writers who feel trapped in the rigid world of three-act structure.

Yorke introduces a more sophisticated understanding of story structure, emphasising the importance of character development and the role of turning points. This fresh perspective will help you break free from the predictable model of three acts and breathe new life into your storytelling.

3. The Idea by Erik Bork 

Best for: Crafting Compelling Story Ideas

Erik Bork’s “The Idea” is a valuable resource for writers in need of a strong story premise.

It’s particularly useful for beginners struggling to develop a script idea or experienced writers who find their stories losing steam after the midpoint. Bork presents seven key elements that every story should incorporate, helping you build a solid foundation for your screenplay.

4. The Science of Writing Characters by Kira-Anne Pelican 

Best for: Creating Complex Characters

Kira-Anne Pelican’s “The Science of Writing Characters” takes a unique approach to character development.

This book encourages writers to consider the specific traits and nuances of their characters. It challenges the notion that all extroverts are the same, highlighting differences in character warmth and assertiveness. By incorporating these details, you can add depth and complexity to your characters, creating a rich tapestry of personalities that can drive conflict within your script.

5. Screenwriting is Rewriting by Jack Epps Jr. 

Best for: Mastering the Rewriting Process

While many screenwriting books focus on the initial writing process, “Screenwriting is Rewriting” by Jack Epps, Jr. delves into the essential art of rewriting.

Epps suggests a practical approach to revising your script: rather than attempting to fix everything at once, make multiple passes, addressing different elements of your story with each revision. Whether it’s character development, theme, structure, or dialogue, Epps provides the guidance you need to fine-tune your screenplay. This book is a valuable resource that you can reference throughout your writing journey.

Nick Fore Script Doctor / Script Consultant

Nick Fore is an experienced script consultant who reads screenplays for the British Film Institute.

He has written comprehensive coverage on over 1,000 scripts and has helped screenwriters get their work into development with production companies such as Imagine Entertainment and Screen Ireland. 

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