The books below are all reference resources you should find helpful, but bear in mind that there's no such thing as a definitive work in this arena. Robert McKee's book, for instance, is pretty much accepted as the industry standard on screenplay structure, but many people find the style a little too grand for its own good, coming as it does from a man who has never in his life written a successful screenplay. Moreover, it advocates a standardised structure, a recipe for formulaic movie-writing. It's useful for grasping the terminology – most executives will have read it, or at least have had someone read it for them – so it's as well to be aware of it. It contains oodles of helpful insights, but I'm not convinced it's a terrific aid to creativity. Don't take it, or any of the other books, as gospel. They're aids. That's all.

STORY

 

CHARACTER

The Seven Basic Plots

Christopher Booker

 

7 basic plots

This is a link to the actual Google book itself. Free. Donʼt say I never give you anything.

Story

Robert McKee

 

Story

The de facto industry standard guide to screenwriting.

The 8 Characters of Comedy

Scott Sedita

 

8 characters of comedy

Interesting analysis of characters from a SitCom perspective.

     
     

SCREENPLAY

   

Screenplay

Syd Field

 

Screenplay

This is one of the best starter books for would-be script writers. Try and overlook the name-dropping.

Adventures in the Screen Trade

William Goldman

 

Adventures in the Screen Trade

Fun and often startling exposé about working in the movie Industry. A must-read for anyone thinking about becoming a professional scriptwriter

Three Uses of the Knife

David Mamet

 

Three Uses of the Knife

Invaluable insights from the master.

     

GENERAL

   

Stein on Writing

Sol Stein

 

Stein on Writing

Solid theory from a master editor.

Save the Cat

Blake Snyder

 

Save The Cat

Rather obnoxiously opinionated, crassly commercially-driven author, but some important tips on helping your characters engage your audience.