Screenwriting is a notoriously difficult thing to get right. Despite the fact that every other person you speak to on the street thinks that they could sit down and write a movie in a matter of hours, writing a screenplay is an extremely complicated and elusively arduous process.

There are many schools of thought regarding just exactly what makes the “perfect” screenplay – many would argue that no such thing exists. But there are a handful of screenplays out there that come pretty damn close to perfect, all of which make essential reading for anybody who hopes, dreams or has even fully-realised their dreams of screenwriting as a professional.

Here’s 10 essential screenplays for the aspiring screenwriter…


10. Groundhog Day (1993) – Danny Rubin/Harold Ramis


Though some people are quick to write this off as “another goofy Bill Murray movie,” comedy scripts seriously don’t come much better than this – in fact, Groundhog Day might have hailed from the greatest comedy script ever written. The magic working this screenplay is all in the concept. If this movie had never existed and you wrote it today, there’s absolutely no doubt that you’d sell within a week: the idea alone would be enough to make you a millionaire.

The fact that – beyond its concept – the script is so flawlessly written, is certainly what propels it into “masterclass” territory, but Groundhog Day is essential reading because it doesn’t – not for a single moment – waste the story opportunities brought on by its concept. The genius, of course, is that – despite its “stuck in the same day” premise – it works like any other generic rom-com. You don’t realise this, of course, because the idea is such a doozy.

Sensational stuff, and the high mark you should be aiming for when writing something of the high-concept comedy variety.

You can read Danny Rubin’s screenplay for Groundhog Day here.

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This article was first posted on March 28, 2013