Writers in Various Stages of Christmas Shopping

Looking for the perfect gift for the writer in your life?

Here are the top picks from writers who have been featured in the ‘Writers in Various Stages of Development’ series.

No, I’m not recycling content.

I’m re-gifting it.

Andrew Dawson (Big School, Peter Serafinowicz Show, Mitchell & Webb Look, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway)

With screenwriting books, for me it’s about finding the ones that click with the way you think. Some screenwriting books felt like a foreign language to me while I instantly tuned into others. Even in the ones that didn’t click, there are usually elements that resonate and I hold onto.

For what it’s worth, I have probably gotten the most from Save The Cat by Blake Snyder, Writing Movies For Fun And Profit by Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon.

I wish Joe Toplyn’s Comedy Writing For Late-Night TV had been around when we started out gag-writing as it would have saved us a few years of trial-and-error teaching ourselves on the job.

Emma Boucher (My Petsaurus, Go Jetters, Wanda and the Alien)

John Yorke’s ‘Into the Woods’ is the BEST book on structure.

James Hamilton (The Amazing World of Gumball, Space Chickens in Space, Unikitty, Casual Violence, a secret Netflix project)

Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. It’s a wonderful book that gives you the origins and etymology of well known turns of phrase.

Jeffrey Aidoo (The Now Show, The News Quiz, Dead Ringers, Newsjack)

After finishing writing my first drama script I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Then I read Blake Synder’s – Save the Cat. After reading this book, I tore up the script (virtually of course – so pressed delete) and started again based on the knowledge of structure and pacing. 

The concepts aren’t necessarily anything new or ground-breaking and you’ll find a variation of these concepts in just about any screenwriting book that you read. However I connected with this book, it’s a fun read and it really helped me shape my first script and I refer back to it all the time. So I’d always recommend Save the Cat. I’d also recommend saving a cat in real life if you see one in distress.

Alex MJ Smith (The Folded Hawk, White Label Newsjack, Breaking The News)

When it comes to scripts, I reckon the best approach is to read everything. You’ll quickly work out what you do and don’t like, and there’s always something to learn. I try to read a variety of genres and forms, including stage plays. I recently laughed out loud to ‘A Very Expensive Poison’ by Lucy Prebble, and cried actual tears while reading ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ by Duncan Macmillan — so maybe check those out.

Although it’s not a book, Alex has released his own audio comedy show – The Folded Hawk. I’m sure he’d rip a CD-R for you in exchange for money.

Sophie Dutton (Hey Duggee, Love Monster, Go Jetters, Luo Bao Bei)

I really like ‘Writing Screenplays that Sell’ by Michael Hauge.

Sophie has also recently published her own book which you can buy directly from here. Support artists and local ghosts.

Joanne Lau (Kit and Pup, Class Dismissed, Skethtopia).

True story: I own two dog-eared copies of How to Write a Movie in 21 Days by Viki King but I’ve never gotten through all 21 days. I think I got to Day 13 once? 

It’s perfect if you’re a procrastinator like me though! I use it no matter what project – stage, film, or TV. It just gets you thinking about your project and gets you started without being overwhelmed and half the battle is getting started, isn’t it? I keep one copy in my desk at the lab, and one at home so I don’t have to keep toting it around. It’s annoyingly not available on Kindle.

Also true: I had a comedian friend forcibly march me to the book store and make me buy a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I dutifully read it cover to cover but rebelliously hate-highlighted phrases like “creative moistening” just so I could repeat them to people at parties and watch them cringe. I’m probably going to hell. I will reluctantly admit I write better when I do my “morning pages” though, so maybe my “creativity” was “moistened” by the book after all? Shudder.

Luke Beddows (Class Dismissed, Crackerjack, CBBC)

I’ve read some of the Inside No.9 scripts and they’re great for naturalism. It’s interesting with Pemberton and Shearsmith because when you read their scripts you’re like ‘actually, I could write this’ as it’s so simple and the dialogue flows so seamlessly. But you can’t… you just can’t so stop thinking you can.

What do I recommend?

Check out this blog from last Christmas for my top picks.

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