--casablanca gif--If you wanted to be a rock superstar, you would know a great deal about a great many musicians who preceded you – and their work would profoundly influence yours. If you wanted to be a top athlete – same thing. But when it comes to wanting to be an A-list screenwriter, many emerging writers have very little knowledge of our own important tradition. We stand on the shoulders of giants and knowing the work of these giants, inside and out, is an enormous advantage. Understanding their approaches and techniques gives you tools you might otherwise never develop.

So who are these giants?

The WGA has a list of the top 101 screenplays. Look at the writers of these screenplays. Get to know them.

AskMen.com has a top ten list of legendary screenwriters. The author (whom I initially mis-identified as the scriboshpere’s own Craig Mazin, but see below) includes background on each writer. See how many of them you never heard of.

The book Framework: A History of Screenwriting In The American Film is an excellent resource for learning about the giants.

Many of the screenplays of these giants are freely downloadable online. Download them; read them. Learn and enjoy….


  1. Actually, I didn’t write that. It’s a different Craig Mazin, believe it or not. He must be a freelancer or something…I see his stuff pop up every now and again on ESPN.com and so forth.

  2. Wait– so now the story is that there are *TWO* Craig Mazins out there getting paid big bucks to sling words somehow connected to the topic of movies? That seems to stretch plausibility a tad tight.

    How do we know this ISN’T the same Mazin, and all these denials are just some clever ruse — a jape, a jest, a canard — to throw us off the scent?

    I smell conspiracy.
    B (ALSO not that Craig Mazin)

  3. It’s a pretty good bet that only one of the two has a 17″ MacBook Pro, an Aeron chair, a Biomorph Maxo and an Apple cinema display. The other one probably still totes a clamshell iBook….

  4. There’s no way the other Craig Mazin gets paid big bucks. I’m kicking his ass. If I were him, I’d just give up. Or change my name. And get rid of that crappy clamshell iBook.

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