View Full Version : Script Writing Books-Suggestions
October 2nd, 2006, 12:21 AM
So most of the suggestions from everyone on books for Lighting, Editing, and everything have been pretty good.
I'm looking for a suggestion or two on books that would help me improve the flow and rhythm of my dialogue.
October 2nd, 2006, 08:28 AM
I could be wrong on the spelling of his last name... but anything by William Frouge... actually I'm... but hopefully that's close enough...
October 2nd, 2006, 08:46 AM
While I have no specific recommendations, I generally like the offerings of Michael Wiese press (http://mwp.com/books/writing/).
October 3rd, 2006, 05:38 PM
How about finding a movie you like and getting the script from the bookstore?
The Art section at your local Barnes or Borders should have several movie scripts you can browse through.
I think it's the best way to see how the director intended to shoot the scene based upon the script.
If you're talking about formatting, try the demo scriptwriting programs like Final Draft, etc... and see if you like it.
October 3rd, 2006, 06:07 PM
This is just one persons opinion.
Iíve read stacks of screenwriting books and without fail the majority of them are loaded with device that offer nothing more then tricks and pretense that will get you no closer to learning how to write.
To learn to write means you have to dedicate yourself to subjects you understand and write about them with honesty and forget about what is cool.
People may have different opinions about approach but I think that understanding the basics of story comes first.
I would say you might want to take a look at "Story" by Robert McKee. It is caulked full of theory and complicated stuff, but will plant some good seeds even in your first pass at it. I have been returning to it for years and new things keep presenting themselves as I catch up with the text.
October 3rd, 2006, 07:30 PM
Lots of good books on format...any of them are alright. My favorite two books on the mechanics of discipline and narrative structure would have to be
How to Write a Movie in 21 Days - By Viki King. Nuts and bolts format, good tips for keeping your butt in a chair, and organizing your thoughts.
The Writers Journey - by Christopher Vogler. Excellent examination of the Hero's Journey in Cinematic Storytelling. A 'pocket guide' to Joseph Campbell if you will, outlining archetypes and turning points. Really good stuff.
If you could only buy two books... those two would be my recommendations.
My advice to first time writers.
"Don't get it right... get it written." The best advice ever given to me. Read up on the format... only takes a few minutes. And put your butt in a chair and WRITE. It's all about B.T.U's. Butt Time Units. Keep writing till you're done.
Rewrite Rewrite Rewrite and Rewrite again. That's when the books come in handy. Something is not clicking in the script? Check with the books for possible solutions. BUT GET TO THE END. I've known too many scripts that languish when they get to a hard spot... cause people keep trying to 'fix' a work in progress.
DON'T GET IT RIGHT - GET IT WRITTEN.
October 3rd, 2006, 08:03 PM
No one here has really addressed the initial question which is what resources (books, etc) one could look at for dialogue. I'd like to know as well.
My only answer is to read similar scripts in the same genre.
Also to make sure that dialogue furthers the story, not just is there for the sake of wit.
I cannot count the number of amateur screenplays I've read that take too much from Tarantino. The royale with cheese segment is cited too often. Or the Like a Virgin discussion from Reservoir Dogs.
October 3rd, 2006, 10:37 PM
I've read probably 30 screenwriting books and none of them dealt with how to write dialogue. The three best things you can do are: pay a heightened attention to every person you come across in your life (what do they talk about, what are their speech rhythms, what is their vocabulary level, how much swearing do they do...); study other scripts; and write write write. The more attention you put on it the deeper you will penetrate into how to duplicate it on paper. No one can teach you that.
I'd say of the 30 books I read only 5 or so were worthwhile. And of those five, at this moment, I only remember two of them, and not because they were just mentioned above: Story by Robert McKee is the most insightful book I ever read, but it is complex; and The Writer's Journey by Vogler is also a great book. Oh, just remembered one more: it's a combination seminar with Vogler and Michael Hauge. While Vogler focuses on the inner journey of the main character, Hauge focuses on the outer, physical plot that is the context for that journey. It's called The Hero's Two Journey's.
Get those three things, go over and over them as you write everyday until your eyes bleed, then in five years you'll know what you're doing. Good luck.
October 4th, 2006, 01:35 AM
I personally like "making a good script great" I forgot the author. I've found no books I've read are really good for dialog. I agree that before you can get a good feeling for dialog you need to concentrate on listening, and write what you hear and not what you think. but definitely write! I usually write very little dialog to start, do a read through with some friends, then work on it with the actors (they're gonna disagree with it anyway). Hope that helps
October 4th, 2006, 08:15 AM
My most valuable experience at the Praxis workshops was when a bunch of actors read through my entire feature. You get a real feel not only for the dialogue but also for pracing.
October 4th, 2006, 08:46 AM
Good Script Great is by Linda Seiger... I believe...
I like the Frogue books the best... most of the books are just different repeats or their take on the format...
What I don't like is the guys who teach... well this or that has got to happen on page 3 and this or that has got to happen on page 10...
Yes there are rules... but let the rules help you... so what if the thing that's suppose to happen on page 10 and it comes out on page 11... for example if your film is a comedy and the reader is laughing his or her ass off...they won't reject the script because "well gee the thing that was suppose to happen on page 10 happen on page 11... so I guess I can't buy the script because it didn't fit these writing guru's ideas... even though its the funnest thing I ever read"...
And basically what Richard said...
October 15th, 2006, 11:47 PM
They dont really deal with good dialogue writing techniques, the best teacher for that is observation but as far as flow and structure, I refer to Syd Field's Screenplay: The foundations of Screenplay and also The Screenwritings Bible by David Trottier. Both of these books are very helpful. Both books refer to Films both classic and newly filmed to explain their ideas and clarify their points. You combine these books with some creative writing guides and books. a little creativity on your own part, and they are very powerful tools in writing screenplays that are properly formatted and very interesting.
October 18th, 2006, 11:09 PM
I bought a DVD copy of Syd Fields 'Screewriting workshop' it's really pretty good. I think I found a link to it while checking out Final Draft.
October 20th, 2006, 04:46 PM
Margaret Mehring's The Screenplay (http://www.amazon.com/Screenplay-Blend-Film-Form-Content/dp/0240800079/sr=8-1/qid=1161377034/ref=sr_1_1/104-9500305-7035121?ie=UTF8&s=books) looks very interesting; anybody read it?
October 26th, 2006, 03:56 PM
I once recommended this one here, and I will do it again... :)
Writing the Character-Centered Screenplay
by Andrew Horton
nice, inspiring and interesting book. different approach than the other "mainstream" screenwriting books, but very useful reading...
November 16th, 2006, 07:16 AM
If I were making a bible for screenwriters these would be the books in it.
Syd Field's Screenplay, Robert McKee's Story, Which Lie did I tell by William Goldman, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Aristotle's Peotics and 500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader by Jennifer Lerch..
Read all these books and take lots of notes. When your done reading them, drive to your nearest lake or large body of water. Built a little wooden raft and put all the books (but one) on the raft. Then set the raft on fire, push the raft out into the water and sit on the shore enjoying the spectacle.
Why does your screenwriting library get a Viking's funeral? If you cling to these books too literally, these books will become barriers that will impede you from finding your own voice. You be constantly referrring to them and will end up not using your instincts but instead you'll be using Syd Fieids or Roger McKee's instincts. If followed to literally, your script will be formulaic piece of @#$%.
Only save 500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader by Jennifer Lerch.
Cheesey title but it's the one I turn to the most. The book offers no answers, just a series of questions. When your done your rough draft, open up the book and use it a check list when you're rewriting.
January 13th, 2007, 09:52 AM
My advice to first time writers.
"Don't get it right... get it written."
January 21st, 2007, 08:43 PM
Thanks for all the replies. Totally forgot about this thread.
January 21st, 2007, 09:14 PM
I'm generally not a fan of screenwriting books because all of the one's I have read reitterate the techniques - and they can all be learnt by studying screenplays and paying attention to the movies you watch for pleasure. The only thing you really need to know is the technical specifications, and you can learn the margins with a simple Google search.
That being said, I recommend "How Not To Write A Screenplay: 101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make." The thing with screenwriting is that you learn by screwing up. All writers make the same (or similair) mistakes starting out, you just have to recognize them as you make them and learn not to do it again. This book helps you recognize those mistakes and even helps you avoid some before they happen.
Also, the author was a professional script reader. The mistakes mentioned are things that turn off the readers, who are the people you want to impress. because the script readers are the ones who say to the higher ups, "You should read this."