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Useful Books for creatives

Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Ar
Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Art

One of the most influential books in all history. Greek and English on facing pages, plus Butcher's famed 300-page exposition and interpretation of Aristotle's ideas. Seminal discussions of art and morality, poetic truth, much more.

Comedy Rules by Jonathan Lynn.jpeg
Comedy Rules by Jonathan Lynn

A host of hugely enjoyable examples drawn from Lynn's varied and successful career bring these rules to life, covering everything from inspiration, collaboration and the Seven Deadly Sins to the perils of unmotivated comic business, pitching screenplays in LA, sexist jokes and lunch with the Inland Revenue. Comedy Rules offers an enlightening journey into the world of comedy and an indispensable companion to the elusive art of its creation.

Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland

Award-winning novelist K.M. Weiland shares her acclaimed method for achieving memorable and moving character arcs in every book you write. By applying the foundation of the Three-Act Story Structure and then delving even deeper into the psychology of realistic and dynamic human change, Weiland offers a beat-by-beat checklist of character arc guidelines that flexes to fit any type of story.

Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger

Linda Seger shows how to create strong, multidimensional characters in fiction, covering everything from research to character block.

Crime Triller by Paul Tomlinson

To write a crime thriller you need to know the conventions of the genre – what elements people expect to find and what plot structure you should use. In this book you will find analyses and templates to write novels or screenplays. In these pages you will also learn the secrets of the buddy cop story and details about informants, interrogating suspects, surveillance & stake-outs, conducting missing person and murder investigations, and how to write a car chase.

Film Genre for the Screenwriter by Jule Selbo

Film Genre for the Screenwriter is a practical study of how classic film genre components can be used in the construction of a screenplay. Based on Jule Selbo’s popular course, this accessible guide includes an examination of the historical origins of specific film genres, how and why these genres are received and appreciated by film-going audiences, and how the student and professional screenwriter alike can use the knowledge of film genre components in the ideation and execution of a screenplay.

Freytag's Technique of the Drama

An analysis of dramatic principles by Gustav Freytag. Freytag seeks to determine the laws according to which great plays are composed, supplementing the rules of Aristotle’s ‘Poetics’ by reference to the works of Shakespeare, Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller. Freytag shows how the central idea of a play is selected and developed from the raw material, defines the dramatic as emotion leading to action, or action producing emotion, explains dramatic unity as the result of the adequate motivation of every action, emphasizes the need of probability, magnitude, and progressive interest in the actions chosen and discusses the nature of the “katharsis” or emotional renewal effected by tragedy.

Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Cam
Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.

How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett

When you feel anxious, angry, happy, or surprised, what's really going on inside of you? Pioneering psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett draws on the latest scientific evidence to reveal that our common-sense ideas about emotions are dramatically, even dangerously, out of date - and that we have been paying the price. Emotions aren't universally pre-programmed in our brains and bodies; rather they are psychological experiences that each of us constructs based on our unique personal history, physiology and environment.

How Plays Work by David Edgar.jpeg
How Plays Work by David Edgar

Edgar explores the building-blocks of structure, plot, genre and on through the construction of scenes and characters. He shows how plays share a common architecture without which the uniqueness of their author's vision would be invisible. How Plays Work is a masterclass for playwrights and all theatre practitioners, but also a fascinating guide to the anatomy of drama.

How We Talk: The Inner Workings of Conversation by N. J. Enfield

An expert guide to how conversation works, from how we know when to speak to why huh is a universal word. Whether we are speaking with the clerk at the store, our boss, or our spouse, language is dependent on things as commonplace as a rising tone of voice, an apparently meaningless word, or a glance--signals so small that we hardly pay them any conscious attention. Nevertheless, they are the essence of how we speak. From the traffic signals of speech to the importance of um, How We Talk revolutionizes our understanding of conversation. In the process, Enfield reveals what makes language universally--and uniquely--human.

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Into the Woods by John Yorke

John Yorke, the creator of the BBC Writers' Academy, takes us on a journey to the heart of storytelling, revealing that there truly is a unifying shape to narrative forms - one that echoes the fairytale journey into the woods and, like any great art, comes from deep within. From ancient myths to big-budget blockbusters, he gets to the root of the stories that are all around us, every day.

Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald.jpeg
Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald

Invisible Ink is a helpful, accessible guide to the essential elements of the best storytelling by award-winning writer/director/producer Brian McDonald. Readers learn techniques for building a compelling story around a theme, engaging audiences with writing, creating appealing characters, and much more.

Melodrama: Genre, Style and Sensibility by
John Mercer and Martin Shingler

This book identifies three distinct but connected concepts through which it is possible to make sense of melodrama; either as a genre, originating in European theatre of the 18th and 19th century, as a specific cinematic style, epitomised by the work of Douglas Sirk or as a sensibility that emerges in the context of specific texts, speaking to and reflecting the desires, concerns and anxieties of audiences.

Pixar Storytelling by Dean Movshovitz_ed
Pixar Storytelling by Dean Movshovitz

The book examines Pixar’s character development, unique, intricate story structure and use of theme, all of which are key to the studio’s storytelling achievements. This book is great for writers interested in writing for animation or mainstream feature films, animators or aspiring directors who want to know how some of the best-animated films work, and even Pixar fans or film buffs who are interested in learning more about the awesome world of storytelling.

Psychology for Screenwriters by William Indick

Storytellers must understand human behavior to make their stories come alive. This guide is based on the premise that screenwriters must understand human behavior to create believable characters. The theories of personality and psychoanalysis are clearly described, with simple guidelines, thought-provoking exercises, vivid film images and hundreds of examples from classic movies. You can learn the fundamental psychological models and how to apply them to your screenplays to make your characters come to life and learn how to write and reflect real human drama.

Screenplay: Writing the Picture, 2nd Edition by Robin U. Russin & William Missouri Downs

Screenplay is a complete screenwriting course-from developing a theme, researching a story, plotting and structuring a script, developing characters, and plying methods that aid the actual writing and rewriting processes through understanding the ins and outs of marketing and pitching scripts.

Secrets of Screenplay Structure by Linda J. Cowgill

Linda Cowgill articulates the concepts of successful screenplay structure in a clear language, based on the study of great films from the thirties to present day. Secrets of Screenplay Structure helps writers understand how and why great films work as well as how great form and function can combine to bring a story alive. Cowgill includes many helpful anecdotes, insider strategies, as well as do's and dont's which will help readers make their writing more professional, and therefore, more marketable.

Sixguns & Society by Will Wright

The purpose of this book is to explain the Western's popularity. The Western, like any myth, stands between individual human consciousness and society. If a myth is popular, it must somehow appeal to or reinforce the individuals who view it by communicating a symbolic meaning to them. This meaning must, in turn, reflect the particular social institutions and attitudes that have created and continue to nourish the myth. Thus, a myth must tell its viewers about themselves and their society. This study, which takes up the question of the Western as an American myth, will lead us into abstract structural theory as well as economic and political history. 

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Stephen King on Writing

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.

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Story by Robert McKee

A comprehensive and superbly organized exploration of all elements, from the basics to advanced concepts. It is a practical course, presenting new perspectives on the craft of storytelling, not just for the screenwriter but for the novelist, playwright, journalist and non-fiction writers of all types.

Teach Yourself Screenwriting Third Edition by Ray Frensham

"Teach Yourself Screenwriting" is a comprehensive, jargon-free guide for all budding screenwriters. Its aim is not just to guide you through the techniques and skills you need to write for the screen (film and television), but also to give you guidance on how to approach the industry as a whole. Focusing on every aspect of screenwriting, from how to start the writing process and develop your characters, plot, and structure, to how to break into this highly competitive industry and make a career for yourself as a writer, this book uncovers all.

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The Anatomy of Story by John Truby

Based on the lessons in his award-winning class, Great Screenwriting, The Anatomy of Story draws on a broad range of philosophy and mythology, offering fresh techniques and insightful anecdotes alongside Truby’s own unique approach to building an effective, multifaceted narrative.

The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egr
The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

Lajos Egri shows how it is essential for the author to have a basic premise - a thesis, demonstrated in terms of human behavior - and to develop his dramatic conflict on the basis of that behavior. Premise, character, conflict: this is Egri's ABC. His book is a direct, jargon-free approach to the problem of achieving truth in a literary creation.

The Art of Plotting by Linda J. Cowgill

Plot must be as much about the emotions of the characters as it is about the events of the story. Using examples from recent and classic movies, author Linda J. Cowgill demonstrates how the plot springs naturally from the characters - and how that technique makes audiences connect with the story on a more intimate level.

The Art of the Turnaround by Michael M. Kaiser

Many arts organizations today find themselves in financial difficulties because of economic constraints inherent in the industry. While other companies can improve productivity through the use of new technologies or better systems, these approaches are not available in the arts. Costs go up, but the size of theaters and the price resistance of patrons limit what can be earned from ticket sales. Therefore, the performing arts industry faces a severe gap between earnings and expenses. What, then, does it take to create and maintain a healthy arts organization? The Art of the Turnaround shares with readers ten basic rules for bringing financially distressed arts organizations back to life and keeping them strong. 

The Classic Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar.j
The Classic Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar

This Norton Critical Edition collects seven different tale types, including multicultural versions and literary rescriptings. Along with the introductions and annotations by Maria Tatar are twenty-four critical essays exploring the various aspects of fairy tales, and new interpretations.

The Eight Characters of Comedy by Scott
The Eight Characters of Comedy by Scott Sedita

Scott Sedita gives you advice and exercises for breaking down comedy scripts, writing jokes and delivering them with comedic precision. Plus, you'll find in-depth sections on Sitcom History, The Three Pillars of Comedy, Auditioning for Sitcoms, and his acclaimed comedic technique The Sedita Method! Most importantly, you will be introduced to his famous sitcom character archetypes.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk
The Elements of Style by William Strunk JR and E.B. White

A great deal of good writing is not just about crafting words with skill, it is about getting a clear idea of the logical relation between the ideas in every sentence. Once you understand that, you will not only create better prose but you will do it with less effort.

The Hidden Tools of Comedy By Steve Kapl
The Hidden Tools of Comedy by Steve Kaplan

This book offers a paradigm shift in understanding the mechanics and art of comedy, and the proven, practical tools that help writers translate that understanding into successful, commercial scripts. The Hidden Tools of Comedy unlocks the unique secrets and techniques of writing comedy. Kaplan deconstructs sequences in popular films and TV that work and don't work and explains what tools were used (or should have been used).

The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Crafting likable, interesting characters is a balancing act, and finding that perfect mix of strengths and weaknesses can be difficult. Not only does a well-drawn protagonist need positive attributes to help them succeed, they must also have flaws that humanize them and give them something to overcome. The same is true of villains and the rest of the story’s supporting characters. So how can writers figure out which flaws best fit their characters? Which negative traits will create personality clashes and conflict while making success difficult?

The Positive Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Building authentic, memorable characters is no easy task. To forge realistic characters, we must hobble them with flaws that set them back while giving them positive attributes to help them achieve their goals. So how do writers choose the right blend of strengths for their characters—attributes that will render them admirable and worth rooting for—without making it too easy for them to succeed?

The Psychology of the Western by William Indick

This book analyzes the archetypes, themes, and figures within the principal mythology of the western frontier. Western themes are interpreted as expressions of cultural needs that perform specific psychological functions for the audience. The chapters are devoted to the frontier hero character, the roles of women and Native Americans, and the work of the genre's most prolific directors, Anthony Mann and John Ford.

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us by James W. Pennebaker

In The Secret Life of Pronouns, social psychologist and language expert James W. Pennebaker uses his groundbreaking research in computational linguistics-in essence, counting the frequency of words we use-to show that our language carries secrets about our feelings, our self-concept, and our social intelligence. Our most forgettable words, such as pronouns and prepositions, can be the most revealing: their patterns are as distinctive as fingerprints. 

The Screenwriter's Workbook by Syd Field
The Screenwriter's Workbook by Syd Field

This book allows you to participate in the processes that have made Syd Field's workshops invaluable to beginners and working professionals alike.  Easy-to-follow exercises, a clear explanation of screenwriting basics, and expert advice at every turn--all the moment-to-moment, line-by-line help you need to transform your initial idea into a professional screenplay.

The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Boo
The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker

This book provides a comprehensive answer to the age-old riddle of whether there are only a small number of 'basic stories' in the world. Using a wealth of examples, from ancient myths and folk tales via the plays and novels of great literature to the popular movies and TV soap operas of today, it shows that there are seven archetypal themes which recur throughout every kind of storytelling.

The Uses Of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim

Fairy tales have been an integral part of childhood for hundreds of years. But what do they really mean? Bruno Bettelheim presents a thought-provoking and stimulating exploration of the best-known fairy stories. He reveals the true content of the stories and shows how children can use them to cope with their baffling emotions and anxieties.

The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogle
The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler

The Writer's Journey provides insights and observations from Vogler's pioneering work in mythic structure for writers.

Writing a Play by Steve Gooch

This book is a practical guide to the process of play-writing, from the original inspiration through plotting, structuring and characterisation to the successful realisation of the idea.

Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias

Writing for Emotional Impact goes beyond the basics and argues that Hollywood is in the emotion-delivery business, selling emotional experiences. Karl not only encourages you to deliver emotional impact on as many pages as possible, he shows you how, offering you hundreds of dramatic techniques to take your writing to the professional level.

Writing the Comedy Movie by Marc Blake

Marc Blake lays out the nuts and bolts of comedy screenwriting. His objective is to clarify the 'rules' of comedy: to contextualize comedy staples such as the double act, slapstick, grossout, rom com, screwball, satire and parody and to introduce new ones such as the bromance or stoner comedy. He explains the underlying principles of comedy and comedy writing for the screen, along with providing analysis of leading examples of each subgenre.

Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit

The first guide to ever focus on the romantic comedy uses examples from Bringing Up Baby, Notting Hill, and other films to teach the art of creating great characters and plots.

You Talking To Me By Sam Leith_edited_ed
You Talkin' To Me by Sam Leith

Rhetoric is what gives words power. It isn't the exclusive preserve of politicians: it's everywhere, from your argument with the insurance company to your plea to the waitress for a table near the window. It convicts criminals (and then frees them on appeal). It causes governments to rise and fall, best men to be shunned by brides, and people to march with steady purpose towards machine guns.

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© 2021 by Daniel Hallissey
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