How To Write A Screenplay Outline

Would you like to learn how to write a screenplay from a professional screenwriter and Script Doctor who has worked for major movie studios and is based in Los Angeles, California, Hollywood, the entertainment capital of the world?

I can give you the TOOLS — the professional screenwriting how to — to write a great movie screenplay or television script. My method is called Story Maps Screenwriting and it is the most simple, clear and effective roadmap to take you from your initial concept all the way to a polished draft that you can submit to agents, managers and producers in the movie industry in Hollywood.

  • 95% of great movies follow the Story Map

Let’s look at a few examples from popular movies: The Dark Knight, a Superhero Action movie, The Matrix, a Science Fiction action thriller and As Good as it Gets, a Dramatic Comedy. These movies are blockbuster hit films and employ strong Story Maps. They are very different stories in completely different genres, but employ the same storytelling structure.

As an example, I will highlight one of the unique beats found in my Story Maps structure.


  1. Upsets the established ORDER
  2. Ups the STAKES for the Protagonist
  3. Acts as a crucial CATALYST for the story.
  4. Occurs in the range of page 8 – 10 of the screenplay, or 8 – 10 minutes into the movie.


The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight - Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale)Exactly 10 minutes into the movie, BATMAN (Christian Bale) uses his incredible strength and technology to apprehend The Scarecrow and the last of crime boss Moroni’s crew, effectively ending crime in Gotham City and paving the way for a new threat, THE JOKER (Heath Ledger). One minute later, Batman pledges to Police Captain JIM GORDON (Gary Oldman) that he will stop The Joker.

The Matrix

Neo (Keanu Reeves) stops bullets in The MatrixExactly 10 minutes into the movie, NEO (Keanu Reeves) meets TRINITY (Carrie-Anne Moss), who tells Neo that the answer to the question “What is the Matrix?” will find him, but only if he wants it to. This introduces the LOVE INTEREST (Trinity), the THEME (Free Will vs. Destiny) and the main STORY ENGINE for Act One (Neo searches for “the Matrix.”).

As Good As It Gets

Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall in As Good as it Gets with dog Verdell.Exactly 10 minutes into the movie, MELVIN (Jack Nicholson) meets CAROL the waitress (Helen Hunt) for his daily meal. As they talk, Melvin makes a horrible remark about how her sick son will die just like the rest of us. This introduces Melvin’s LOVE INTEREST, the powerful CONFLICT between them (negative vs. positive), the THEME (Don’t let pessimism rule you) and Melvin’s central GOAL: to learn to love.

The FULL STORY MAPS for The Dark Knight, The Matrix and As Good As It Gets can be found in my books, STORY MAPS: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay and Story Maps: 12 Great Screenplays, which you can purchase in a special discount bundle in hi-res PDF format that includes a bonus story map here or in paperback here.

Special Offer on Story Maps E-Books“Dan has created a book that is straightforward and full of valuable insight and guidance for screenwriters at different experience levels.”
-Laurie Lamson, Editor, Now Write! Screenwriting

There are 9 other crucial story beats in the Story Maps structure,as well as 4 story engines and 9 main dramatic elements. These are the BUILDING BLOCKS of your story, and once you understand that I can teach you about proper screenplay format, how to write a screenplay treatment or synopsis and how to sell a screenplay.

Where are you at in the screenwriting process?


No matter if you’re just starting out or have written several scripts, I can help you achieve your goals.

Good luck and happy writing!

Dan Calvisi

Special Offer on Story Maps E-Books“Dan has a no-nonsense approach to screenplay analysis that cuts through the bull and delivers the goods. A must read for serious screenwriters.”
-J. Stephen Maunder, Writer/Director

“…as much as an analysis of Nolan the filmmaker as it is an analysis of story structure within his films.”
-Script Magazine

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