4 Books Every Screenwriter Should Read

“Bad Boys” and “Die Hard 2” scribe Doug Richardson yanks readers down into the trenches of Hollywood and uses humor and blunt honesty to lead them through his adventures and misadventures. #TheNicestGuyinHollywood makes you feel like you’re in a bar somewhere as he’s telling you old war stories. Richardson guides readers through every aspect of a script; from creation to dealing with hotheaded studio executives. He leaves no stone unturned and no truth unrevealed. For anyone who wants to know what happens behind the scenes in Tinseltown, this is a must read.

If modern screenwriting were a school, William Goldman would be the headmaster. His screenplays ushered in a new style that breathed fresh air into screenwriting. His screenplays for “The Princess Bride,” “Marathon Man,” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” are still considered classics. From dealing with actors and producers to the heart of the craft itself, Goldman comes off as a wise great uncle with an arm around your shoulder, whispering advice in to your ear.  

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made A Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant

The minds behind “Reno 911,” and a dozen other films, bring readers this hilarious and useful screenwriting tool. Presented in a “get rich”-style, this book is one of the most honest and helpful for screenwriters. It reveals the ins and outs of the business while making you laugh till your side hurts.

Hollywood Animal by Joe Eszterhas

Raw. Scary. Honest. One of the highest paid writers in Hollywood takes you along a journey starting in war-torn Europe and ending in Shannon Stone’s bedroom. The “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls” screenwriter pulls back the curtain on his sex-fueled, booze-filled ride though Hollywood.

More From Writer's Bone's Library

6 Books You Didn’t Know Were Made Into Movies

By Sean Tuohy

Have you ever asked yourself, "Where the hell do screenwriters get ideas for movies?" Most of them come from the minds of deeply troubled writers or the back of Captain Crunch cereal boxes, but some originate from books! 

Here's a collection of some of the best films based on books.

Drive by James Sallis


“Drive,” the indie darling film of 2011 featured Ryan Gosling as a movie stunt driver who moonlit as a getaway driver. The film was filled with stellar acting, a pumping soundtrack, and a solid storyline. American post-noir master James Sallis wrote the novel of the same name. Mixing together a sparse writing style with heavy characters, Sallis created a stunning tale.

Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” was the kid’s movie that was really meant for adults. Overflowing with beloved cartoon characters, the film mixed together live action for the first time in history. The plot follows hard-boiled, cartoon-hating detective Eddie Valiant, who must help Roger Rabbit prove that he didn’t commit a murder. Where the movie is rides the line between adult and children, the novel is darker in tone and deals with a stranger world then the one in the film, It’s a fast, but odd, read.

The strange story of how “Die Hard” went from novel to screen could be it’s own book. Written as a sequel to the “The Detective” (also turned into a film starring Chairman of the Board), Nothing Last Forever follows retired detective Joe Leland as he visits his daughter’s Christmas office party in L.A. when it gets taken over by terrorist. Leland must fight his way though terrorist as he tries to save his daughter. There are major differences between source book and film. The ending the book much darker, the main character is a truly flawed hero with many issues, and the terrorist are not bank robbers. A solid, fast paced read that makes you need to take a shot of whiskey at the end.

58 Minutes by Walter Wager

To learn more about how this story became the basis for “Die Hard 2,” swing by The Nicest Guy In Hollywood Doug Richardson’s website and take a read, totally worth it. But in the novel, a father must save his daughter from a madman who threatens to crash all the planes at JFK during a snowstorm. It’s great little read, but, man, who doesn’t love watching this scene:

Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory by Mickey Rapkin

Before Fat Amy, there was the source book. A reporter spent one season following college-aged wanna be singers as they tried to win an a cappella championship.

The Running Man By Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

Arnold Schwarzenegger on a game show where he must stay alive for 24 hours? 1980s action gold! Before the one-liners and cheesy ‘80s effects there was the novel The Running Man by Stephen King’s alter ego Richard Bachman. A short, but wickedly fast novel follows Ben Richards, an unemployed father living in a broken world, as he completes in a popular game show. He must stay alive for a week while being chased by hunters. King claims that he wrote the book in three days.