7 best screenwriting books for TV and movies

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Learn about creating dialogue, writing a winning script, and other essentials of scriptwriting.

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Television writing is one area where the writer can become as popular as the show he creates. While there are fundamental similarities to all genres of screenwriting and scriptwriting, writing for television is its own area of ​​specialty.

If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a TV series, we’ve rounded up a bunch of books that must be on your reading list. Even if you are already working in television, or planning to write a screenplay, you will find some useful information in the headlines below. Advice on spec drivers, spec scripts, writing compelling stories, character development, cast size, creating shows for streaming services, and putting your script in between. hands from the producers, the seven books below cover important techniques and strategies to help you. For more literary recommendations, check out the Best Screenwriting Books and 10 Books Every Beginner Filmmaker Should Read.

Martie Cook’s “Writing on Television, 3rd Edition”

“Write to TV” details tips for creating smart, original stories and scripts for a bunch of different formats and genres, including comedy, drama, pilots, web series, and streaming services like Netflix , Amazon and Hulu. The latest edition of the book is updated with chapters on using free platforms such as YouTube, writing for niche markets, breaking into the writer’s room, creating worthy content. frenzy and detailed information on creating complex and compelling stories, including how to write an antihero or a strong female protagonist. The book includes over 20 interviews with direct contributions from studio and network executives, agents and managers on what they look for in new writers; how to avoid common pitfalls and tips from successful creators and showrunners on creating original content that sells. You’ll also find access to sample plans, checklists, script pages, and countless other resources.

“Save the cat! Written for TV: The Latest Book on Creating Frenzy-Worthy Content You’ll Always Need ”by Jamie Nash

When looking for screenwriting books, “Save the Cat! Blake Snyder usually appears on the list. Screenwriter Jamie Nash takes up Snyder’s torch in this step-by-step guide using his principles for new and experienced writers. “Save the cat! Writing for TV ”includes strategies for writing and structuring a compelling TV pilot, nuances, pilot writing tips and methods, plus tips for improving your story and pitch. The 272-page book includes pilot sheets from “Barry, Ozark”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “What We Do in the Shadows”, “Black-ish”, “The Mandalorian”, “This Is Us” and “Law and Order: SVU”.

“The TV Scriptwriter’s Workbook: A Creative Approach to TV Scripting” by Ellen Sandler

This how-to guide features nuggets of wisdom the author collected as a writer for hit shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Coach.” The manual outlines the steps to becoming a TV screenwriter, starting with tips for writing a winning screenplay. From elements of that essential concept line to ‘Exploring the 7 Deadly Sins’ for fresh and original stories, and ‘selling’ versus ‘telling’ stories, Sandler offers a comprehensive lesson in TV writing with graphics and script detailed distribution tables.

“Writing TV Sitcoms” by Evan S. Smith

It’s one of the oldest books on the list, but it’s still worth reading for sitcom writing. Writing Television Sitcoms offers suggestions for writing a fun script, creating jokes, punchlines, starting a new show, launching your career, and more.


“The Hero Succeeds: The Character-Centered Guide to Writing Your TV Pilot” by Kam Miller

“The Hero Succeeds” has it all from concept to writing a pro pilot, and covers essentials such as: characters, the show world, tone, story engine, and story themes. dramas and sitcoms. Veteran TV writer Kam Miller outlines the steps in creating your own TV series and details the revolutionary character-driven structure designed to help you solve even the most difficult scripting problems.

“Write the pilot” by William Rabkin

A simple and straightforward reading, “Writing the Pilot” walks you through the process of designing and writing a spec driver script. From the initial idea to the finished script, you’ll learn to identify a show concept that could span a hundred or more episodes, and create characters that will stay interesting year after year.

“Writing a captivating dialogue for cinema and television” by Loren-Paul Caplin

Understanding how to write a dialogue begins with a growing awareness among writers of what they are hearing. “Writing Captivating Dialogue for Film and Television” offers an assortment of dialogue and language tools, as well as exercises to understand function, intention and thematic / psychological elements that dialogue can convey about the character. , tone and story. Written by a seasoned screenwriter, playwright and writing teachers, this book offers a clear set of exercises, tools and methods to increase your ability to hear and discern conversation on a more complex level, and allows you to his turn to create better, more nuanced, complex and convincing dialogue.

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