Full title: "The Screenplay Workbook: The Writing Before the Writing". Authors: Jeremy Robinson and Tom Mungovan.
I just picked this one up today and oh my gosh I don't know how I got by up until now without it. I'm serious as a heart attack. If you don't own this, you need to know just how invaluable it is to you the budding (or established) screenwriter.
Basically it's unlike any screenwriting book already out there and the two ingenious authors know it. It's a book template of sorts - a series of worksheets and easy to understand explanation detailing every element you need to create a feature length screenplay. This is not a "how to" book, rather it asks you questions and gives you cut-out sheets in which to answer these questions as they pertain to your concept. Guaranteed if you don't know your (soon to be award winning!) script backwards and forwards by the time you complete your use of this book, you didn't do enough of the homework. This thing is pretty unbelievable and just what I was looking for!
Granted, I'm not the greatest fan of the rigid "plot point here/turning point there" method, but the authors do make a point: you generally do have to adhere to the rules as a novice in Hollywood. The town's been around way too long for spec writers to just come in and start changing up the program at their leisure. (Quentin is Quentin for a reason, folks.) But believe this: once you adhere to the rules and know them inside out, you can bend them.
I've just broken out of the book temporarily to write this glowing review. I read that some universities have this as a textbook in their screenwriting programs. Trust me. Check this one out. You'll be glad you did. I'm headed back to it now.
(Bonus: Check out the additional online resources at the back of the book, where our dear friend and webmaster Don is given credit as simply the best site on the net to find screenplays. Go Simply Scripts!)