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Offbeat Script Writing Books for Serious Screenwriters

Updated on September 9, 2016

Not every script writing book retreads the same material.

There are a lot of great screenwriting books in print. Many of those script writing books offer brilliant insights into how to properly and effectively compose a screenplay. Unfortunately, there are a number of books on screenwriting that are more than a bit derivative. They plainly rehash a lot of the same material. Besides, a lot of the advice in the books is irrelevant...but that is another story for another day.

And then there are all those gimmick-oriented screenwriting tomes that try to deliver the elusive and long sought after "perfect formula" for crafting a screenplay. With this words, a hefty "buyer beware" warning is levied. Screenwriting is not a talent developed through following a gimmick.

And then there are some truly novel and unique books out there. For those fans of the art of writing a script, adding the following three offbeat and interesting writing a script books to your collection might be a wise plan.

Within these three books, a great deal of unique an interesting material can be found. For those looking to hone their craft, reading what these excellent books have to offer is worth the investment.

Three Unique Script Writing Books

Not every book on the subject of screenplays follows a tired How to script writing paradigm. Nor are they all of the screenwriters on screenwriting mold. There are quite a number of excellent screenwriting books that cover the topic from unique and different angles. The following three books definitely a change of pace from the ''same old, same old '' so many books on screenplays embody.

How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn

You could all this book the inverse of the common ''how to script writing'' books on the market. While you might think the book might be a cynical one based on its title, it is actually a very well written and intelligent book that covers the common mistakes new (and even experienced) screenwriters are prone to make. The goal of this book is to help eliminate common errors that automatically make a screenplay bad. If you do not want a good screenplay to be sunk, picking up this book would be a great help.

Good Scripts, Bad Scripts: Learning the Craft of Screenwriting Through 25 of the Best and Worst Films in History by Tom Pope

What is better from learning from your mistakes? Not making any mistakes and observing those mistakes made by others. If you want a great book that covers major, supreme errors committed by screenwriters, you will find this book a must have for your screenwriting library. Sure, there are chapters on really great screenplays such as Chinatown and Romancing the Stone. Admit it though, you want to read the chapters on the really rotten films that make it to the screen. My favorite chapter is the one that deals with The Last Action Hero. This utterly disastrous screenplay was the first notorious bomb for Arnold Schwarzenegger and the huge narrative errors in the screenplay contributed to the fiasco. Reading that chapter alone will give you a lot of food for thought about how a decent idea for a screenplay can go painfully wrong.

Going to the Movies: A Personal Journey Through Four Decades of Modern Film by Syd Field

Anyone with even a passing interest in script writing has read Syd Field's Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. Serious students have read his other how to script writing works. This particular book is not designed to teach anyone the art of screenwriting. Rather, it is a mix of an autobiography and a film lover's personal journey of cinema appreciation. For those that want an insight who Syd Field is, this book is well worth reading...and rereading.

A Never Ending Library of Script Writing Books

As you can see, these books each have a different take on how to write a screenplay. These are not gimmicky works. They are serious and well thought out. And yes, they can be quite a bit of fun to read. Adding them to your library would be a smart move.

Of course, there are far more excellent screenwriting books on the market that are well worth reading. If you are serious about script writing, then you will definitely want to keep adding such excellent books to what should be an always growing collection.

Not the Theater of the Absurd

Last, it is important to note that offbeat does not mean absurd or ridiculous. There are surely to be gimmick oriented screenwriting books to be published that offer very foolish or silly advice. Niche books do have to set themselves apart in order to stand out from the crowd. No one is going to fault this approach when the advice given is good and makes sense. However, really awful advice is going to hurt a newbie screenwriter who is trying to receive serious consideration for his or her work. If the advice seems dubious or the style professed just too off the wall, put the book up for sale on eBay and get some of your money back.

You can also check out:

On Writing the Average Screenplay


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    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Thanks for your information. I'm just very new in the idea that I could learn the art of script writing, so I will do a lot of research before I get going.

    • Snackula profile image

      Charlie Dalrymple 4 years ago

      A humorous screenwriting book would be How To Write Movies For Fun And Profit by Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon. Funny throughout, stories from the trenches, and good advice. It's a good one.

    • TCaro profile image

      Tony Caro 4 years ago

      Thanks. There are some truly excellent books out there that cover the subject from a lot of angles. Some are even quite humorous.

    • Snackula profile image

      Charlie Dalrymple 4 years ago

      Some good choices. Another one I like is Maverick Screenwriting by Josh Golding. Really gets into the "outside the box" approach. You can check out some others suggestions on my page: