Adventures in the Screen Trade
by William Goldman
Okay, Bill Goldman's glory days seem to have passed...but damn, he had some pretty glorious days: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride (like "The French Lieutenant's Woman," a GREAT example of making a good movie out of unique book by discovering the creative truth that makes the story work, rather than just transcribing it to a new format). This book chronicles his experiences making movies, and damn, it's a fun read.
Part of Goldman's appeal is both the big money he made (Butch & Sundance set records for a spec in its day) and the skill with which he represents writers. He very correctly pointed out that the problem with being a writer is that EVERYONE knows alphabet, so everyone assumes they can write, too. What writers need is a secret language, like cinamatographers have film speed and f-stops and whatnot, so people who don't know what they're doing will stay out of our work...
Enough: this book is required reading. Great stories, well told, what's not to like?
There's also a sequal, "More Adventures in the Screen Trade". It's somehow not quite as compelling, but there're plenty of good stories in here, too.