The Screenwriter’s Bible by screenwriter David Trottier is something I recommend every writer pick up. Whether you write short stories, scripts, novels or poems (okay, maybe not poems) this book will help you with overall story structure and planning. Obviously from the title it’s geared more toward screenwriting, but I find it’s been helpful with my novel writing as well, in terms of character creation and pacing among other things.
I have the 4th Edition (pictured) but apparently there’s also a 5th edition out. And I’ve just thought about my “no poems” statement from earlier and I think that if you write poems, you should pick this up because who knows what it will inspire?
TSB is basically 6 books all rolled into one and it starts with the basics of screenwriting including the basics of stories, “high-concept”, and character creation and then moves to a workbook that takes you step by step through creating an outline. Following this, in book 3, formatting is discussed and then books 4 and 5 deal with writing, editing and marketing. Book 6 is where you find a plethora of resources covering bookstores, periodicals, contests etc.
The only drawback I found (and it was a personal one) was the confusion between certain names for things (i.e. Catalyst vs. POA and Pinch vs. Midpoint). I have taken two screenwriting courses with Nika Rylski at George Brown College (which you should all take because Nika’s awesome!) and her names for things were different from Trottier’s in the book, but it was no big deal figuring it out.
Check out David’s web site – www.keepwriting.com
And take Nika’s GBC courses – GBC Screenwriting Home