This month, we’re taking a look at another reference book to help us with our craft. The Screenwriter’s Bible (I read the 5th Edition) by David Trottier is an absolute must for anyone looking to write and sell a screenplay or TV script. When it says on the cover, “A Complete guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script,” it delivers on its promise. Even though I mostly write fiction novels, you should see how many sticky notes I have tagged on pages throughout my book. I would recommend this to anyone who writes; there are several elements that apply to other forms of writing as well.
The Screenwriter’s Bible is divided into Books, from I to VI. It begins with “How to Write a Screenplay: A Primer” discussing “How stories work” going through discussions on concept, plot, character creation, theme, dialogue, and scene-making. And that is just Book I. Book II covers, “7 Steps to a Stunning Script: A Workbook,” allowing you to create a screenplay concept and write down your thoughts and outline, helping you develop your story thoroughly from Act I to finish.
Book III is, “Proper Formatting Technique: A Style Guide.” Mr. Trottier doesn’t mince words here, if you want to get your screenplay past the initial screener, it has to be formatted correctly or it won’t get looked at. Period. He offers sample scripts for you to follow, “Formatting in a nutshell,” to each part of the screenplay—what they’re called and how they should be formatted on the page. Book IV, “Writing and Revising Your Breakthrough Script: A Script Consultant’s View,” gives you insight into breaking into the industry and “key principals and exercises in revising scenes,” so your work stands out along with your formatting.
Book V informs on “How to Sell Your Script: A Marketing Plan.” It goes over everything from selling your work, protecting your work, preparing your script for the market, creating a marketing plan, how to find an agent, “How to pitch without striking out,” and even “How to sell your script without an agent,” and so much more. The last part, Book VI is, “Resources and Index,” with a link to updates on the Bible’s latest editions, industry organizations, writers’ organizations, schools, software, directories and more. The index is thoroughly organized, so if you’re looking for something specific, it’s easy to find.
If you’re serious about scriptwriting and breaking into Hollywood, this is your guide to getting your screenplay or TV script past the front door. Read it, follow the guidelines, do the workbook and you’ll have a knock-out story concept and correctly formatted script that with luck and perseverance will get your script seen where others don’t get past the front door.
(As mentioned, I read the 5th edition, so if there are later additions, they can only have even more helpful information for you, staying on top of an ever-changing industry.)