If you want to be a writer, you need to be a reader, too. The best way to find your voice is to read more established writers and see how the professionals put details on the page. 

Whether it's learning about story structure, character development, or dialogue, studying the works of successful screenwriters can provide valuable insights and techniques that can be applied to your own writing.

In this article, we'll explore some must-read screenplays that offer valuable lessons for any writer looking to improve their craft.

From classic films to modern masterpieces, these screenplays showcase exceptional storytelling, unique perspectives, and groundbreaking techniques that have helped shape the film industry. Whether you're an aspiring screenwriter or just looking to improve your writing skills, these screenplays are a must-read for any writer.

Here are some scripts I think every writer should read. 

Juno'Juno'Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

What Are Some Must-Read Screenplays for Any Writer?

There are many great screenplays out there that any writer would benefit from reading. Here are a few must-read screenplays that I recommend:

  1. The Godfatherby Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola: This screenplay is a classic example of how to adapt a novel into a successful film. It's a masterclass in character development, dialogue, and pacing.

  2. Chinatown by Robert Towne: This screenplay is often cited as one of the best ever written. It's a complex and layered story with unforgettable characters and a twist ending that will leave you reeling.

  3. Casablanca by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch: This screenplay is a timeless classic, with unforgettable dialogue and a story that still resonates today.

  4. Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary: This screenplay is a great example of non-linear storytelling and the use of dialogue to drive the plot. It's a fun and entertaining read.

  5. The Social Network by Aaron Sorkin: This screenplay is a great example of how to make a film about something seemingly mundane (the founding of Facebook) into a compelling and entertaining story. Sorkin's dialogue is sharp and witty, and the pacing is excellent.

  6. Annie Hallby Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman: This screenplay is a great example of how to write a romantic comedy that is both funny and touching. It's a classic for a reason.

  7. Juno by Diablo Cody: This witty and heartfelt screenplay is about a teenage girl who unexpectedly becomes pregnant, exploring themes of family, friendship, and identity.

  8. Erin Brockovich by Susannah Grant: Based on a true story, the screenplay follows a single mother who becomes a legal assistant and helps bring a major environmental lawsuit against a company, highlighting themes of perseverance, justice, and empowerment.

  9. Thelma & Louise by Callie Khouri: This groundbreaking screenplay is about two women who embark on a road trip that turns into a crime spree, exploring themes of gender, friendship, and rebellion.

  10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindby Charlie Kaufman: This screenplay is a great example of how to tell a story with a unique and unconventional structure. The story is emotional and thought-provoking, and the writing is top-notch.

  11. Networkby Paddy Chayefsky: This screenplay is a great example of how to write a satire that is both funny and prescient. The story is a scathing commentary on the media and the power of television.

  12. Taxi Driver by Paul Schrader: A classic screenplay about a mentally unstable Vietnam War veteran who becomes a vigilante, exploring themes of isolation, violence, and redemption.

  13. The Shawshank Redemption by Frank Darabont: An adaptation of Stephen King's novella that tells the story of two prisoners who form a bond and find hope in the most unlikely of places.

  14. Jaws by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb: A suspenseful and thrilling screenplay that has become a cultural phenomenon and redefined the summer blockbuster.

  15. The Silence of the Lambs by Ted Tally: A psychological thriller that explores the complex relationship between a young FBI agent and a cannibalistic serial killer.

These screenplays are just a few examples of the many great scripts out there. By reading them, you can learn a lot about structure, pacing, character development, dialogue, and other important elements of screenwriting.

Jaws-movie-screencaps'Jaws'Credit: Universal Pictures

Summing Up Some Must-Read Screenplays for Any Writer

These must-read screenplays offer valuable insights and lessons for any writer who wishes to improve their craft. By studying these works, writers can learn from the masters of the craft and gain inspiration for their own writing.

Whether it's mastering the art of dialogue, developing complex characters, or crafting compelling storylines, these screenplays offer a wealth of knowledge that can be applied to any genre or medium.

If you're an aspiring screenwriter or simply looking to improve your writing skills, make sure to add these must-read screenplays to your reading list.

Check them out. Let me know which to add.