37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Steer Clear -- Read these instead,
This review is from: Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting; A step-by-step guide from concept to finished script (Paperback)
I won't go into why Syd Field is a mistake. Plenty of reviewers have written at length about it (myself included). Instead, I offer 2 alternatives. These are two of the best books I've read on narrative structure:
"The Tools of Screenwriting" by David Howard and
"Good Scripts, Bad Scripts" by Thomas Pope
These 2 books go a long way towards providing a structural understanding of how and why stories work or do not work. It's not snappy dialogue, great performances, direction & cinematography, or even a collection of great scenes that make a great story. It's the STRUCTURE of the entire script/film that makes it work or not work. These books offer a good explanation of the components of drama and provide thorough case studies of numerous films. They also avoid the other big trap of working from some "universal" STORY MODEL. Things like the Hero's Journey or Mythic Structure, or other phrases tossed around all too often.
Having said that, these books ONLY cover story structure. Things like script formatting, characterization, backstory, etc., are outside the scope of these books. They are not how-to screenwriting books. Instead they teach something far more important - how to understand (and hopefully create) good stories.