What could be better than sitting down and watching a great film? How about watching a great film based on a script you wrote and knowing that people all over the world are watching it as well! Screenwriting is a specialized craft that involves rules and formatting unique to the discipline. For example, novel writers try to create a world for a reader to experience in their mind. Screenwriters provide a framework that helps a director, actors, crew, and others creates a visual representation of their words for film goers to watch and enjoy.
To start on the path to learning more, check out The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style by Christopher Riley. This reference provides a great basic guide to formatting your script from the right place to capitalize as well as how to avoid deadly formatting mistakes.
For a humorous take try Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder. Showbiz veteran Snyder claims that his book reveals secrets to screenwriting that no one else dare share. However, many screenwriters share their entertaining, and sometimes startling, experiences in Peter Hanson's Tales from the Script: 50 Hollywood Screenwriters Share Their Stories. The exclusive interviews range from "Halloween" director John Carpenter to Shane Black of "Lethal Weapon" fame.
In Screenwriting is Storytelling: Creating an A-List Screenplay that Sells! Emmy Award-winning screenwriter Kate Wright tackles what she views as the key factors to a successful script. She feels too many writers forget to develop memorable characters and breaks down such films as "Tootsie" to illustrate her point.
So once that screenplay is written, what is the writer's next step? This subject is tackled by the following two books. Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, creators of "Reno 911," attempt to show that anyone can make it as a screenwriter even in the absence of training and talent. Despite poking fun at themselves and the process, the two authors still provide valuable information based on their own experience on such topics as getting your foot in the door as well as obtaining royalties. Writer with a newly finished script might also benefit from Brooke A. Wharton's The Writer Got Screwed (but didn't have to): Guide to the Legal and Business Practices of Writing for the Entertainment Industry. One of the first books to untangle the complex legal and business aspects of screenwriting, Wharton helps writers wade through lawyers, agents, contracts, and more in order to protect their creative work.
If you have the desire to tackle writing a screenplay, or have one already in the works, the Abilene Public Library can offer these and many other titles designed to help you get the most out of the process. You never know, with a little help, and likely a lot of effort, you may one day see your creative work find its way to the silver screen.
Article by Deborah Tarsiewicz, Information Services at the Main Library