Recently, I had a young screenwriter ask me what books I have read on screenwriting. My first recommendation was Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. My autographed copy sits on the top shelf of my writing desk.
I also recommended the Save The Cat series, including the one on writing a novel, by Blake Snyder. All four of the books have provided me with many light bulb moments. I really enjoyed reading Save The Cat Goes To The Movies as it breaks down genres and beats by referencing films and shows you where the beats are within the film.
When it comes to the actual script’s format, my go-to book is The Screenwriter’s Bible 7th Edition by David Trotter. Over the last few years there have been significant changes when it comes to the nuts and bolts of formatting. Readers and industry professionals will be quick to pass on your spec script if there are issues with its format. Another formatting book I keep on my desk is Screenplay, Writing the Picture 2nd Edition by Robin U. Russin and William Missouri Downs.
There are many other books that are excellent sources of inspiration and education. William Goldman, Stephen King, Tom Lazarus, John Truby, and Denny Martin Flinn are just a few of the authors whose books occupy the top shelf of my desk.