Below are the books I’ve find most helpful for writing novels and screenplays. I’ve read each one many, many times.
When I start a new creative writing project, the first thing I do is read Erik Bork’s The Idea. It helps me form and test the central unifying idea of my story.
From there, I usually read Save the Cat and The Story Solution to help me plan and storyboard my novel.
If you purchased them all, you’ll give your writing ambitions a tremendous boost and you’ll have a wealth of reference material at your fingertips.
If you can only get one book about writing a novel or screenplay, get Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. It’s fun and easy to read, and it will show you all the bits and pieces of an entertaining story.
Snyder wrote Save the Cat to help his screenwriting students, but the principles work just as well for long fiction.
Save the Cat is an excellent foundation in story structure and story boarding. Once you grasp the principles in Save the Cat, you’ll see them in nearly every movie the big studios produce.
If you can buy two books about creative writing, buy the The Idea, by Erik Bork. It focuses on the most important element of a commercially successful screenplay and novel – the story idea.
At least 60% of the success potential of a screenplay or novel is in the idea. Most plays and novels fail because the story idea is ill conceived or not conceived at all.
In his book, Mr. Bork shows you how to nail down a promising story idea BEFORE you invest months and years of your life in a manuscript.
As a creative writer, buying The Idea is the best $15 you’ll ever spend.
Story Solution, by Hollywood veteran, Eric Edson, is a deep dive into story creation. I consider it mandatory reading for any creative writer who wishes to fully develop his, or her, skills.
Eric Edson has written 17 feature screenplays and worked for all the biggest names in the film industry, including Disney, Sony and Warner Brothers. He is also a Professor of Screenwriting and the Director of the Graduate Program in Screenwriting at California State University, Northridge.
Although Story Solution is focused on screenplays, Mr. Edson’s 21 Step Story Solution is perfect for novels as well.
Story Solution will show you how create entertaining stories that speak to the human condition. You’ll learn why some stories last through the ages and how to write them.