Recommended Books On Screenwriting

One of the questions that comes up often is what books would I recommend for an aspiring or novice screenwriter to read? Here are a few standard suggestions for learning basic formatting guidelines and story structure.

This is not an exhaustive list and merely recommendations. Start with the basics and go from there. Once you have formatting down and an understanding of story structure, you can explore some of the deeper dives.

As always, apply your newfound knowledge to what works best for you and your story. There are no hard and fast rules. Take what you need, leave the rest.

The Basics

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

Robert McKee’s screenwriting workshops have earned him an international reputation for inspiring novices, refining works in progress and putting major screenwriting careers back on track. Quincy Jones, Diane Keaton, Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, John Cleese and David Bowie are just a few of his celebrity alumni. Writers, producers, development executives and agents all flock to his lecture series, praising it as a mesmerizing and intense learning experience.

In Story, McKee expands on the concepts he teaches in his $450 seminars (considered a must by industry insiders), providing readers with the most comprehensive, integrated explanation of the craft of writing for the screen. No one better understands how all the elements of a screenplay fit together, and no one is better qualified to explain the “magic” of story construction and the relationship between structure and character than Robert McKee.

Purchase book here.

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

As the first person to articulate common structural elements unique to successful movies, celebrated producer, lecturer, teacher and bestselling author Syd Field has gifted us a classic text. From concept to character, from opening scene to finished script, here are fundamental guidelines to help all screenwriters—novices and Oscar-winners—hone their craft and sell their work.

In Screenplay, Syd Field can help you discover:

  • Why the first ten pages of every script are crucial to keeping professional readers’ interest
  • How to visually “grab” these influential readers from page one, word one
  • Why structure and character are the basic components of all narrative screenplays
  • How to adapt a novel, a play, or an article into a saleable script
  • Tips on protecting your work—three ways to establish legal ownership of screenplays
  • Vital insights on writing authentic dialogue, crafting memorable characters, building strong yet flexible storylines (form, not formula), overcoming writer’s block, and much more

Syd Field is revered as the original master of screenplay story structure, and this guide continues to be the industry’s gold standard for learning the foundations of screenwriting.

Purchase book here.

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

Here’s what started the phenomenon: the best seller, for over 15 years, that’s been used by screenwriters around the world! Blake Snyder tells all in this fast, funny and candid look inside the movie business. “Save the Cat” is just one of many ironclad rules for making your ideas more marketable and your script more satisfying, including: The four elements of every winning logline The seven immutable laws of screenplay physics The 10 genres that every movie ever made can be categorized by ― and why they’re important to your script Why your Hero must serve your Idea Mastering the 15 Beats Creating the “Perfect Beast” by using The Board to map 40 scenes with conflict and emotional change How to get back on track with proven rules for script repair This ultimate insider’s guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a showbiz veteran who’s proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat.

Purchase book here.

Deeper Dive

500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader: Writing the Screenplay the Reader Will Recommend by Jennifer Lerch

If Your Screenplay Can’t Get Past the Hollywood Reader, It Can’t Get to Hollywood
This ultimate insider’s guide to screenwriting is designed to get you past the fiercest gatekeepers in Hollywood: the Hollywood script readers. This small army of freelancers will be among the first to read and evaluate your script and then to recommend it — or not — to the studios, directors, and stars.

Designed for quick and easy access, these 500 points are a step-by-step recipe. They cannot guarantee success, but failure to follow them can almost certainly guarantee failure.

Written by an industry insider who has recommended scripts that have sold for as much as one million dollars, this is the only book to show you what the Hollywood Reader wants to see. Clear, smart, and completely authoritative, 500 Ways to Beat the Hollywood Script Reader is by far the simplest, most practical book ever to hit the entertainment shelf.

Purchase book here.

The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting by Jill Chamberlain

Veteran script consultant Jill Chamberlain discovered in her work that an astounding 99 percent of first-time screenwriters don’t know how to tell a story. What the 99 percent do instead is present a situation. In order to explain the difference, Chamberlain created the Nutshell Technique, a method whereby writers identify eight dynamic, interconnected elements that are required to successfully tell a story.

Since its publication in 2016, The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting was an instant classic. It is the go-to manual many professionals swear by, and it’s on the syllabus at film schools across the world including the world renowned screenwriting program at Columbia University. It has also been published in Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Italian.

Purchase the book here.

On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft (A Memoir of the Craft) by Stephen King


Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

Purchase the book here.

As an Amazon Associate I may receive a small commission from purchases made through the links on this page.

How to Deal with Distractions When You Work from Home

Minimizing distractions is an important thing to master when you work from home.

Household chores, TV, social media, and kids are just a few things you will need to consider. How you deal with these distractions can make all the difference in whether you are being productive or not.

Below are a few tips to help you deal with distractions when working from home.

Use the distractions as a reward

Distractions don’t have to be a bad thing. They can be used to reward yourself after completing work tasks. 

For example, if you love nothing more than to curl up in front of the TV watching your favorite shows, allow yourself the opportunity to watch something after completing a project. 

Similarly, you could use social media in the same way. Once you’ve completed a task off your to-do list, reward yourself with a short period of time on your social media channels. 

Using distractions as a reward can help to keep you focused and boost your motivation to get your work done.

Consider working in various parts of the home

It’s common to set aside just one place to work from. However, did you know you may find it more productive to work in various areas of the home? 

It’s all about adding variety into your new working environment. Some days, the spare room may be the best place to get work done. Other times, you may find it more beneficial to work on the dining room table or in the back yard. Don’t limit yourself to where you can work, mix it up and watch your productivity levels increase.

Add a little background music

This tip might not be useful to everyone, but many professionals claim working with background music on can limit their distractions. You’ll want to focus on calming music, rather that something that makes you want to sing along.

Alternatively, listening to podcasts and audiobooks in the background can also work well. So, if you struggle with productivity, try adding a little background noise and see if that helps. 

Reside to check emails sparingly

Checking emails is important when you work from home. However, it can also take up a lot of time. So, you’ll want to limit how many times you check them during the day. 

Ideally, you’ll want to check them first thing in a morning, then after you’ve completed each task you’re working on. 

Turn off notifications

Finally, turn off those notifications. Social media, email, news, and app notifications can all prove really distracting when you’re working from home. So, turn them off until after work to boost productivity.

It’s not always easy limiting distractions when you work from home. However, if you follow some of these tips, you can minimize distractions and maximize production.

Managing Emotions in a Time of Uncertainty – A Statement on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Dear Friends,

The world is facing an unprecedented challenge. In this time of uncertainty and doubt, it’s important to remember to be compassionate to ourselves and to others.

Our minds are trying to process an overload of information. It’s coming at us from every direction. Television, radio, social media, the line at the grocery store. The word “Coronavirus” is on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s minds.

With so much being thrown at us, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and anxious. Emotions are flying high. Tempers are flaring. 

That’s why it is vitally important that we be vigilant of the information we put out into the Universe, and that we act with grace and compassion when dealing with others.

It is up to each one of us to lead by example. 

So, as we settle into isolation, we have choices to make. The Universe is asking us to step up. It asks how you will pass this time? What will you put forth into the world? How will you react to any challenges that may arise?

As we ponder those questions, we can also bring into consciousness that for which we are grateful. We have roofs over our heads, clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet. We have clean drinking water, access to healthcare, food in our pantries. We have friends and family who love us. We have the internet. We have cars or public transportation that take us where we need to go. 

We have so much to be thankful for.

Focus on those aspects of life and it will be easier to handle any obstacles you may face in the coming weeks.

Over the last several days, I have been asking myself how I can be of service to you. As always, I will hold space for you and do my best to provide useful information via email and on The Write Mind Coach website. New on the blog is a simple affirmation to promote calm during this time. You can read it by clicking here.

The 5 Day Mindful Writing Challenge will begin on March 23 as planned. I believe this is an excellent opportunity for nurturing our minds, body, and spirit. The mini-course is free and open to anyone. It includes basic mindful meditation techniques, a breathing exercise, affirmation, and journal prompts. Be sure to share with friends so you can support each other as you move through each day of the challenge. 

Anyone who takes part is invited to join a private pop-up Facebook group. It will be a safe place to discuss any difficulties you may be experiencing and to share your successes. I hope you will take advantage of the tools and resources provided. Join the challenge by clicking here. 

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay present.

With Love and Light,
Joy Schoeph 
The Write Mind Coach

Affirmation for Staying Calm During Trying Times

A calm soul makes trying times conquerable.

Difficulties give me an opportunity to exercise my focus and determination. During trying times I concentrate on maintaining a calm soul. This approach helps me to conquer the challenges that face me.

I avoid being reactive to difficult situations that catch me off guard. While it is easy to allow confrontation to anger me, I choose to take the higher road.

I train myself to keep calm when that is the least natural approach.

I spend a lot of time on nurturing my mind and spirit. It forces me to develop the will to overcome the toughest situations.

When I encounter resistance, my first step is to silence my soul. I ignore the stirrings of impatience and anger that pull at me. I block them out completely.

My focus is on overcoming the challenge at hand by counteracting negativity with positivity and peace.

I realize that giving in to negativity only serves to worsen any situation.

My wisdom in handling trying times encourages me to act from a place of calm reasoning. When my soul is calm, I am able to think things through. By rejecting unease at my core, I am able to make smart choices that produce finer results.

Today, I am a conqueror.

I can overcome any obstacle.

With serenity, I can see the value in all my life experiences. Even obstacles become worthwhile and meaningful when seen in this light.

Self-Reflection Questions:

What exercises can I undertake to help me develop a consistently calm soul?

How often do I encounter situations that are difficult for me to control?

What assistance can I get from outside sources when dealing with trying times?

10 Valuable Meditation Tips for Beginners

Meditation and mindfulness are popular topics. Executives, athletes, educational organizations, health enthusiasts, and many more are joining in the mindfulness movement every day.

This is for good reason, there are countless benefits to be gained through meditation, but beginners often struggle to develop a meditation practice. There is a lot of confusion around the simple, but challenging, practice of meditation. A few tips can make a significant difference.

Meditate more effectively and enjoy greater benefits:

  1. You don’t need anything to meditate. It can be nice to have a proper cushion, loose fitting clothing, and a quiet location. However, you don’t need any of those things. You can meditate on the bus in a suit. You always have everything you need with you to meditate properly.
  2. Start with mindful breathing. Other forms of meditation can require higher levels of focus and discipline. Arguably, mindful breathing is the most valuable form of meditation. Simply focus on your breathing. When your mind wanders, gently return your focus to your breath.
  3. Move if you need to. That doesn’t mean to squirm around in your seated position. Get up and take a walk instead. Be mindful in your walking. Ideally, find a peaceful location where you can still focus on your breath, free from the worry of being run over by a car. The more distractions you have, the more challenging it will be.
  4. Use a timer. Imagine that you plan to meditate for 15 minutes. That’s great but sometimes it can be distracting to wonder how much time is left. So, you open an eye to peek at the clock and mentally calculate how much time is left. Use a timer instead and keep your attention where it belongs.
  5. Be mindful throughout the day. Use a timer app on your phone or computer to remind you to be mindful. Set the timer to notify you every 15-30 minutes. Take a few mindful breaths and return to your previous activity.
  6. Meditate several times each day. Use your trusty timer again. Perhaps you can meditate for one minute each hour or 10 minutes every 4 hours. The goal is to maintain a mindful state 24 hours per day. This is more easily accomplished if you meditate several times each day.
  7. Be gentle. Meditation isn’t about forcing yourself to concentrate with tremendous effort. Meditation gives energy. It doesn’t take energy from you. Use gentle, persistent attention. You’ll be more successful and enjoy the process much more.
  8. The longer you meditate, the more important your posture becomes. Almost any position can be comfortable for a few minutes, but few positions are comfortable for 20 minutes or more. Even your comfy couch is inadequate. It’s important to maintain a well-supported position with a straight spine. Leaning or slouching will create tension and discomfort.
    Have you ever wondered why the full-lotus position is so popular in meditation? It’s because your ankle bones aren’t digging into the floor like they would be if you had your feet folded underneath you. It’s also very stable and allows for a straight spine.
    Find a position that works for you. Consider using a wooden chair if you’re unable to find a comfortable position on the floor.
  9. Avoid meditating after a large meal. Meditation isn’t a form of sleep. A big meal can make you sluggish and uncomfortable.
  10. Add time to your meditation practice slowly. Avoid pushing yourself. Five minutes is a good start. Add a few minutes each week. A long session of 30 minutes per day is a worthwhile goal to work up to.

Meditation is a subtle skill that requires time and practice. Many beginners give up before realizing the benefits that it provides. Make mindful meditation one of your daily habits, and it won’t take long before you consider it to be one of your most important activities.

« Older posts