For budding writers – must have books

I love it when someone comments on my posts and asks a question about writing, whether it be screenwriting or fiction. Because of a recent query, I thought I would post an updated list of reference books.

Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat method of screenwriting: I use this method in writing my scripts because it is what is generally accepted as the ‘norm’ in Hollywood for action and character arcs. It also works well for fiction. I can easily break out the 3 Acts of my screenplay or fiction piece and see where I am either lacking character direction or action to keep the reader/viewer engaged. This is not a substitute for good writing, but it is a well structured guideline. I used this guideline to win and/or make the finals in four major screenwriting competitions… it works. Here is a template that you can paste into a word document: (page numbers are for a script only)

THE BLAKE SNYDER BEAT SHEET

PROJECT TITLE:
GENRE:
DATE:

  1. Opening Image (1):
  2. Theme Stated (5):
  3. Set-Up (1-10):
  4. Catalyst (12):
  5. Debate (12-25):
  6. Break into Two (25):
  7. B Story (30):
  8. Fun and Games (30-55):
  9. Midpoint (55):
  10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75):
  11. All Is Lost (75):
  12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85):
  13. Break into Three (85):
  14. Finale (85-110):
  15. Final Image (110):

As for fiction references, the following books are ‘must haves’ for the fiction writer:

On Writing by Stephen King

The Least You Should Know About English by Teresa Ferster Glazier

The Elements of Style by Strunk & White

Writer’s Digest Magazine is a great resource. They also put out a yearly publication with a list of publishing companies and agents.

A good Thesaurus.

There are lots of other helpful books out there, but the above list will get you started.

Cheers and Happy Writing.

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