university imageMany of you might be wondering if it’s absolutely necessary to join an MFA program in Screenwriting in order to break into film or television. More of you (myself included), may want to go to a screenwriting program, but simply can’t afford the $100,000 price tag. Does this mean that you’re doomed? Absolutely not! As someone who believes very strongly in the art of the hustle and in trying one’s best to make his own way, I sought after some sound advice. I asked folks who have been in my position re: trying to break into Hollywood, walking the hot-coaled road, and finally succeeding. Writers from shows like Leverage on TNT, movies for TV on Syfy, Thundercats, and former TV Writer Fellowships participants all chimed in with their wonderful pieces of advice. The one overriding message I got was:

You do not have to go to an MFA program just to break into Hollywood!

In fact, many folks in the biz won’t care at all that you have a screenwriting degree. They care more about your skills and talent as a writer, the relationships you’ve fostered with people, and your work ethic and passion!

As I take the plunge and focus on all three of these areas (honing my craft, fostering relationships, and displaying work ethic and passion), feel free to join me on my journey. We can learn from my mistakes and my successes together! In the meantime, check out this killer book list that you can invest in (below) that will help you to start honing your writing and professional skills as you make your way towards writing for the big and small screens. Get a head start on your reading because we’re about to throw on the travel packs and head to the City of Angels!

Books on Television Writing (General)

Small Screen. Big Picture: A Writer’s Guide to the TV Business by Chad Gervich

Byte Sized Television: Create Your Own TV Series for the Internet by Ross Brown  tv writer workbook

Beyond Screenwriting: Insider Tips and Career Advice from a Successful TV and Film Writer by Sterling Anderson

Writing the Pilot by William Rabkin

The TV Writer’s Workbook by Ellen Sandler

Breakfast with Sharks by Michael Lent (for films, but get it anyway)

Books on Writing for TV Drama

Writing the TV Drama Series by Pamela Douglas

writingthetvdramaseriesTV Writing Toolkit by Jen Grisanti

Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide by Angela Ackerman

Books on Writing for TV Sitcoms (Comedy)

The Comedy Bible: From Stand Up to Sitcom by Judy Carter

What Are You Laughing At?: A Comprehensive Guide to the Comedic Event by Dan O’Shannon

The Little Book of Sitcom by John Vorhaus elephantbucks

Elephant Bucks by Sheldon Bull

Writing Television Sitcoms by Evan S. Smith (recommended for everyone)

The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus (an oldie but goldie, let’s petition Vorhaus to write a new edition!)

Books on Screenplay Structure and Formatting

The Hollywood Standard: The Complete & Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style

Screenwriter’s Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script

Books on Breaking In, Pitching, Selling, and Assisting

Hollywood Game Plan by Carole Kirschner hollywood game plan

Good in a Room: How to Sell Yourself and Your Ideas by Stephanie Palmer

The Hollywood Assistant’s Handbook: 86 Rules for Aspiring Power Players by Hillary Stamm and Peter Nowalk

Write on, rock on,
<3 Colby