Everyone wants to know what’s the best screenwriting book they should get. The answer is simple, but it may still surprise you.
Look in your favorite bookstore or library and you can find dozens of screenwriting books. When confronted with this armada of screenwriting tutorials (including this one), the obvious question to ask is “What’s the best one?” The answer is all of them.
Every screenwriting book can teach you something. While some books are obviously better than others, don’t dismiss any book because one book might explain a topic better than another book. By reading multiple screenwriting books, you’ll also learn how different authors tackle similar problems and offer different solutions.
Now we’re back to asking the question, “Which solution is best?” Once again, the answer is all of them.
The reason why it’s impossible to tell you which book is best or which author’s solutions are best is because each person comes to a book with a different background. A complete novice might find a basic screenplay formatting book extremely enlightening, but a more experienced screenwriter might find that same book redundant with nothing new to offer.
Similarly, an experienced screenwriter might find another book about character development and dialogue extremely valuable while that same novice might find such a book too complicated and irrelevant simply because each screenwriter has different goals, expectations, and experience.
The best book for you is simply the one that happens to answer your questions right now. Tomorrow you may have a different set of questions and that means another book might be better for you, but that doesn’t take away the value of the first book.
So the best screenwriting book is simply whatever books helps you overcome the problems confronting you right now. The only way you’ll ever find that perfect book is to read as many screenwriting books as possible and learn from each one. Only after you’ve read a book will you know which book is the best one for you.
More importantly, the real answer to the question is that no screenwriting book will ever be the best for you since your needs and questions will always be changing. The best screenwriting teacher can never be found in a book but through your own experience. Nothing teaches you faster than yourself.
As you pursue screenwriting, you’ll make inevitable mistakes and write horrible scripts. That’s okay because each mistake and script you write will teach you what skills you’re gradually learning and what skills you need to improve right away. Tomorrow, your skills will have changed and a new gap in your knowledge may appear. Then you’ll have to learn from experience all over again.
Ultimately, you teach yourself screenwriting by writing lots of screenplays. When you need help, other people can answer questions and provide guidance, but nobody can or should do the writing for you. You are both the teacher and the student, and you must find your own way.
This site, like every other screenwriting book that’s ever been written, can only provide you with advice. It’s up to you to turn this information into knowledge and you can only get that from your own practical experience.
Start writing now. It’s the only true way you’re ever going to find out what you really need to know.