Welcome to RSL’s list of useful screenwriting resources aimed at helping you navigate the wealth of screenwriting information that’s out there.
All links are un-sponsored and affiliate-free. They’ll be regularly updated, but if you have any suggestions for inclusions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also check out out free guide Putting Real Life on Screen
The Script Lab (an online screenwriting community that offers feedback from fellow writers and other resources)
Script magazine (lots of useful info and links)
John Truby’s Writer’s Studio (lots of paid stuff but also some useful free script reviews of popular films/TV)
Bang 2 Write (useful screenwriting info & free resources)
Celtx (free screenplay formatting software – they have paid services too but the scriptwriting program is free)
Adapting History and Literature by John Dean (useful article from the American Studies Journal, No. 53, 2009)
Robert McKee’s Storylogue (subscription service)
Screenwriters’ University (online classes)
Gotham Writers (online classes)
British Film Institute (BFI) Player (classic, contemporary mainstream and offbeat films to rent, as well as filmed events and interviews with notable filmmakers/writers)
Final Draft (industry-standard scriptwriting software – do some research before investing as there are often special deals on Final Draft floating around in cyberspace)
In no particular order, here is a selection of well-known titles on screenwriting and real life adaptations:
- The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler and Michele Montez (Michael Wiese Productions, 3rd edition, 2007)
- Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder (Michael Wiese Productions, 2005) – also see the companion title, Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies (same author)
- Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee ( ReganBooks, 1997)
- Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field (Delta, revised edition, 2005)
- The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby (Faber & Faber, 2008)
- The Art of Adaptation: Turning Fact and Fiction into Film by Linda Seger (Holt Paperbacks, 1992)
- How to Adapt Anything into a Screenplay by Richard Krevolin (Wiley, 2003)
If you’re interested in exploring topics discussed on RSL more fully, here are some authors and works you might like to track down:
Robert A. Rosenstone: An author and historian who a leading scholar in the field devoted to studying the relationship between history and the visual media. His work is very readable and accessible.
Titles to check out are:
- Visions of the Past: the Challenge of Film to Our Idea of History (Harvard, 1995)
- History on Film / Film on History (Pearson, 2006, 2nd edition, 2012)
- Revisioning History: Film and the Construction of a New Past (Princeton, 1995)
- A Blackwell Companion to Historical Film (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013)
The last two are essay collections (co-)edited by Rosenstone. In particular, the Companion to Historical Film contains interesting essays on the Oliver Stone film, Nixon, and the treatment of the Iraq war in cinema.
Rosenstone’s biography of John Reed, Romantic Revolutionary (Knopf, 1975), was used as the basis for the Oscar-winning Reds (1981), on which he worked as historical consultant, giving him a unique perspective on transferring history on to the screen.
Other books you might be interested in are:
Whose Lives Are They Anyway? The Biopic as Contemporary Film Genre by Dennis Bingham (Rutgers University Press, 2010): A useful resource for anyone interested in putting real life figures on screen, including detailed analyses and critiques of around 20 biopics.
Film Nation by Robert Burgoyne (University of Minnesota Press, 2010): Looks at American cinema, history and national identity.
Cinema and History: The Telling of Stories by Michael Chapra-Gant (Wallflower Press, 2008): Useful and readable guide to the relationship between cinema and history.
Writing History in Film by William Guynn (Routledge, 2006): A study of how film can function as a form of ‘historical interpretation and representation’.
Cinematic Uses of the Past by Marcia Landy (University of Minnesota Press, 2000): Looks at how British, American, Italian, and African films represent images of the past.
The Screenplay: Authorship, Theory and Criticism by Steven Price (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010): Explores various issues relating to the screenplay.
What have we missed? Let us know at email@example.com.