Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting” as Want to Read:
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  6,069 ratings  ·  401 reviews
A generation of screenwriters has used Syd Field’s bestselling books to ignite successful careers in film. Now the celebrated producer, lecturer, teacher, and bestselling author has updated his classic guide for a new generation of filmmakers, offering a fresh insider’s perspective on the film industry today. From concept to character, from opening scene to finished script ...more
Paperback, Newly Revised And Updated, 309 pages
Published November 29th 2005 by Delta (first published 1979)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Screenplay, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Stacey King I had to buy the paperback version of this one but I was able to get a Kindle version of Syd Fields "The Screenwriter's Workbook" on Amazon.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,069 ratings  ·  401 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting
Jul 09, 2015 rated it did not like it

It's a warm summer night. Crickets chirp rapidly. All the windows in the house are dark, except one on the second floor.



A woman is sleeping silently on the right side of the bed. On the floor, a small dog is curled up and lightly snores. A man is reading on the left side of the bed by the reading light.

THE MAN, a nerdy-type with glasses and a stack of books on his bedsi
Richard Wu
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
If Save the Cat is like arithmetic, Screenplay is like algebra.

What’s fascinating to me is the type of person each of these books was written for, which can be gleaned from the movies recommended by the authors. Blake Snyder loves Legally Blonde and Four Christmases while Syd Field is more of an American Beauty and The Shawshank Redemption guy. Snyder wants to cash in on the mostly clueless get-rich-quick crowd whereas Field aims at aficionados who have good concepts but no idea how to execute;
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was going to be a technical guide to formatting a screenplay.

I finished this book having no idea how to do that. Field spends half a chapter on formatting. Thank God for software like CeltX.

But I finished this book with a greater appreciation of the writing process. I now have a better idea of how movies are written, and thus a much more technical appreciation of the writer's creative decisions when I watch movies.

All movies are structured identically: 3 acts -- first, a kick
T.D. Elliott
Dec 03, 2007 rated it liked it
i'm going to say i've finished this book, though i skipped a lot of chapter 14 & left 15 for some other day, or need of reference.

syd field is a no-nonsense, bridle no shit, formulaic bastard - but this book is an indispensable reference to those who are, actually writing a screenplay. granted, this is more for those who are "writing to sell a screenplay to Hollywood" than those who want to experiment with the form. mr. field is relentlessly capitalist about his notion of a 'good script,' and b
Ken Poirot
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was just what I needed to further clarify the screenplay structure. The more one searches about writing screenplays the more it seems everyone has their own "formula" for how a screenplay MUST be written. All the "experts" want to sell their course, book, or "rules" on the ultimate, "guaranteed" way to write a screenplay that Hollywood will buy. This book was refreshing because it was light on rules and only laid out the basic structure while reassuring that the "rules" can be bent and ...more
K.M. Weiland
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I’ll preface by saying I’m a novelist, not a screenwriter. But I enjoyed and gleaned from this book on so many levels, not least in quenching my curiosity about some of the behind-the-scenes crafting of movies. Strictly from a novelist’s point of view, however, I found the book worthwhile for two primary reasons. 1) Its stripped-down, simple view of structure is fabulous. It allows you to see the basics of structure at a glance, break it down to manageable chunks, and realize the big picture. 2) ...more
Mojo Shivers
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I remember reading this in a previous form a few decades ago. It still holds up as a great tool for either starting in on a new idea to be put into a screenplay format or, like me, to take an existing idea that may have existed in another format (book, article, &c...) and fashion it into a screenplay. This is a must have for anyone with an interest in completing their first work. ...more
Louis Kirby
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all fiction writers
Shelves: about-writing
I first wrote shadow of Eden as a Screenplay and this book is on the must read list for screenwriters. Well, I must say, it is extremely useful for novelists as well. I learned several key things from this book: first: get in late, get out early. Second: make the scenes visual Third: every story had bones, structure. Know your structure and build on it. Otherwise you'll have no direction, no form and the reader will sense it in three pages and bolt - or give you a bad review.

Bonus: every movie
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Field has very specific ideas on what constitutes a good screenplay, and if you share those ideas and the philosophical assumptions that underlie them, this is potentially a very rewarding book. However, Screenplay does not allow for the existence of good screenplays that violate its underlying ideology, nor does it recognize the need for screenplays that expand the grammar of screenwriting. This is a very good travel guide to a very small world for people who don't plan on making any additional ...more
Bahareh Mahooti
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: screenwriting
Well I wasn't goin to read the book cause I'd heard rumors about how simple the book is. But I decided to give it a try and there we go... the book is actually good, explaining the whole process very well especially to those who search for something fundamental about screenwriting and are about to write the two first feature scripts.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is considered a bible in the industry -- ALL Hollywood screenwriters now conform rigidly to Field's notions of screenplay structure -- and that's why I consider this book to be the Root of All Evil.
Mar 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: screenwriters or film enthusiasts
structure is a beautiful thing. i carried this book around in my purse for weeks.
Jamie Grefe
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dramatic-arts
Still stands as the "foundation." It was the first screenwriting book I read, and revisiting it is like scrubbing that old knowledge back to the surface. It feels good. It feels necessary.
Shanmugam Udhayan
May 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Screenplay- Syd field

All drama is about conflict, without conflict there is no action, without action there is no character, without character there is no story, without story there is no screenplay - Syd Field

Cinema is one of the exhilarating experience of all forms of entertainment, which also has the potential of an art. Understanding the process of filmmaking helps to know the movie better. Screenplay is one of the renowned book about screen writing. This is one such book which helps to un
Michael Burnam-Fink
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
Every character has a dramatic need, something that drives them forward into action. As someone raised in the Hollwood foothills, I've long wondered how you can make a multi-million dollar movie and forget to have a story (Rise of Skywalker cough cough). Screenplays are the least expensive part of a film, probably below the craft services table, so why are they so frequently incoherent and mediocre?

Well, I'm still not sure, and having read Syd Field's classic guide, Hollywood has even less of an
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clear and straight to the point. Good practical knowledge and examples, still I wish Field would have used more than the same half a dozen books over and over again to prove his point. Would totally recommend for aspiring screenwriters of all ages and generations, this book has a few years on his hardcover but it still stands.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm so inspired.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
I read about half of the book but just could not absorb enough information to validate finishing it. It was fine.
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was great to understanding how and where to start writing a script although it’s lacking SOME info on formatting (font size? Etc.)
Victoria Bruno
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Read to p. 105 and p. 215-237.
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m a novelist, not a screenwriter, so it was fascinating to read a foundational guide to a similar but vastly different craft! Many of Field’s tips I think are applicable to a variety of writing formats, especially his advice for building characters, so I found those most helpful, but I also enjoyed learning about issues unique to screenwriting.
Amanda Erickson
I read this book because it was recommended in The DC comics guide to writing comics.

The idea was to use this book to help solidify an idea for a comic I'm wanting to create.

I'm really not sure how to review this book.

It's really bad in some areas and really good in others.

It has a few tips and tricks that I found helpful and a nice breakdown/description of all the different screenplay formatting and camera direction.

There are a couple exercises that are suggested that might be helpful (I haven
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-books
The author is truly a genius. This book is a guidebook written to teach the reader. I took copious notes while reading the book that I later highlighted in a notebook. The only negative thing I can think of is that because of the many examples of movies cited in his book, I started watching more movies than writing and watched them all with a critical eye. Now, It's more challenging than ever to enjoy a movie as I am always thinking, was that the best way to show this, should this be omitted, wa ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like film, but I don't write screenplays. Maybe I'll write one some day, though I'd much prefer to adapt my bestselling, breakout novel, whenever I actually get around to writing it ;-). But I saw an old copy of this lying in my neighborhood's "tiny library" book exchange, so I figured I'd give it a try. It sounds like Field provides some really good, basic tips on constructing and writing a screenplay. As I said, I really had no intention of writing one when I read this, but I certainly felt ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best screenwriting manual that I have read! I came across it quite by accident in a used book store when I was first getting into screenwriting and it has helped me immensely. I liked the author, Syd Field, so much that I then went and purchased all his other books. If you were to only choose one of his many helpful writings, I would say this is the one to choose! This got me excited and motivated to write! I would recommend it for anyone who is either beginning in the industr ...more
Ayush Kumar
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The godfather of screenplay books. Any book on screenwriting written after this one will invariably pay homage to the pathbreaking work of Syd Field, and that's for a reason. Field goes into the 'why' of every aspect of screenwriting - why 3 Acts, why character analysis, and he lays down a clear path without being formulaic or an oversimplification. Unlike a lot of other screenwriting books, he also doesn't talk down to the reader. You're on a journey with him into the world of screenwriting, an ...more
S. Willett
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
Even if I never write the screenplay, this book gave me a greater insight into writing in general. Learning about Plot Points enriched my idea of an outline giving me a better handle on my current work in progress.

I highly recommend this book to students and writers.
Sharif Khan
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
When it comes to understanding story structure and mastering the craft of storytelling and writing cinematically - Syd Field's SCREENPLAY is on my 'top ten' bookshelf of valued story writing reference books.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Read it mostly for the breakdown of Chinatown, which I just watched for the first time. There's a funny chapter at the end about how great computers are for writers, circa 1994. This word processing thing is gonna be big, I tell ya.
Oct 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
This guy is so fucking annoying.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Movies you wish were books 1 3 Feb 16, 2017 12:50PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need
  • Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting
  • The Art of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives
  • Making Movies
  • The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
  • Making a Good Script Great
  • On Directing Film
  • The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
  • In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing
  • Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen
  • How to Write a Movie in 21 Days
  • Rebel Without a Crew, or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player
  • Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey Into Story
  • Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen
  • Story Maps: TV Drama: The Structure of the One-Hour Television Pilot
  • The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script
  • How Not to Make a Short Film: Secrets from a Sundance Programmer
  • Directing Actors
See similar books…
Sydney Alvin Field was an American screenwriting guru who wrote several books on the subject of screenwriting. He also conducted workshops and seminars on the subject of producing salable screenplays. Hollywood film producers have increasingly used his ideas on structure as a guideline to a proposed screenplay's potential.

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We’ve got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
12 likes · 3 comments
“Confusion is the first step toward clarity” 19 likes
“Action is character. What a person does is what he is, not what he says.” 17 likes
More quotes…