“In the Books” is the handy guide on where to find specific writing topics in your current musical writing book library. In this list, William Squier cites books and pages on writing the musical book and structuring your story. Don’t have one of the books listed? Click on the book or title and to go straight to Amazon.

Writing the Book: Structuring the Story

What’s the first step in constructing a libretto?

“It’s an odd little profession…like making barrels.” – John Weidman

The Art Of The American Musical: Conversations With The Creators

  • Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty describe the discussions (with Terrance McNally) that resulted in the first draft of Ragtime (pg. 17).
  • Tommy Tune describes creating the book for ‘Nine’ by staging wordless scenes that Arthur Kopit translated into dialogue (pg. 254).
  • John Weidman creates a new book for Anything Goes (pg. 263).
  • Burton Lane tries to turn down Finian’s Rainbow (pg. 124).

The Producers: The Book, Lyrics, and Story Behind the Biggest Hit in Broadway History!

  • Mel Brooks and Tom Meehan tackle book problems over bagels (pg. 27).

Broadway Song and Story: Playwrights/ Lyricists/ Composers Discuss Their Hits

  • Adolph Green talks about adjusting On the Town to suit director George Abbott (pg. 8).
  • Jerome Robbins claims the everyone but the director (George Abbott) was in on the plotting of On the Town (pg. 5).
  • Richard Rodgers makes a plot suggestion for Act Two of West Side Story (pg. 43).
  • Stephen Sondheim marvels at the “leanness” of the book for West Side Story (pg. 44).

I Got the Show Right Here : The Amazing True Story of How an Obscure Brooklyn Horn Player Became the Last Great Broadway Showman

  • Cy Feuer shows how accommodating the needs of a star (Ray Bolger) resulted in a better story structure for Where’s Charley  (pg. 81).
  • Cy Feuer finds the conflict in the book for Guys and Dolls (pg. 114).
  • Cy Feuer comes up with a story for Can-Can (pg. 167).

Making Musicals: An Informal Introduction to the World of Musical Theater

  • Tom Jones describes the steps taken to adapt ‘The Rainmaker’ into 110 in the Shade (pg. 108).

Original Story By : A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood

  • Arthur Laurents explains how content (Vaudeville and Burlesque) determined the form of Gypsy (pg. 383).

Present at the Creation, Leaping in the Dark, and Going Against the Grain : 1776, Pippin, M. Butterfly, La Bete, and Other Broadway Adventures

  • Stuart Ostrow discovers the dramatic tension for 1776 (pg. 42).
  • Stuart Ostrow says that Bob Fosse’s fondness for anachronisms reshaped Pippin (much to the composer’s dismay) (pg. 66).
  • Stuart Ostrow puts in his two cents on the structure of Sweet Smell of Success (pg. 112).