[article first published in ScriptMag]
One of my favorite lines from THE AVENGERS occurs when Black Widow tells Captain America not to mess with Thor and Loki, saying “they’re basically gods.” With no hesitation, Cap replies, “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.” Then he jumps out of a plane. read more
Story Maps: 12 Great Screenplays (a.k.a. “Booster Pack #1″) is now available in its revised version AND it now includes a BONUS 13TH MAP OF THE BRILLIANT THRILLER “SEVEN!”
The e-book breaks down 13 GREAT MOVIES, primarily from the past decade, into a detailed but easy-to-follow structural analysis known as the Story Map.
The trilogy (of articles) is complete!
Here’s the third part of our analysis of the story structure behind great Science Fiction and Fantasy sagas, using the original Star Wars Trilogy and the Halo Trilogy as focus points. I’d like to thank James Robert Martin for his fantastic work on these essays, and I invite you to revisit Part I and Part II and to post a comment below.
TRILOGY BUILDING PART III: The Saga
by James Robert Martin read more
I’m teaching a weekend “Boot Camp” online workshop on November 15-17th, 2013, with Screenwriters University. This weekend seminar will give you a great crash-course in my Story Mapping method and a critique of your own story map plus a bonus webinar on mapping Oscar screenplays. The price is $199 and it includes an exclusive webinar lecture, a worksheet, a private 3 hour message board forums Q&A session and my notes on your work. Go HERE to sign up.
What do 95% of great movies have in common? They all follow the STORY MAP. read more
This is the most detailed structural analysis of the blockbuster Man of Steel you will find anywhere. With Story Maps Screenwriting Podcast Episode VIII: Man of Steel, we wrap up our analyses of Christopher Nolan’s biggest films (here, Nolan acts as producer with co-story credit) with Man of Steel, written by David S. Goyer and directed by Zack Snyder. You can follow along with the Full Story Map for Man of Steel, link below. read more
The summer movie season is known for convention — sequels, remakes, broad comedies, CGI spectacles; rinse and repeat. But the films that really stand out and distinguish themselves creatively are those that break with commercial movie conventions in major ways, beginning with the script. Here’s three examples from recent years…
James Robert Martin returns for the second part in his guest blog series about the structure of a trilogy, using my Story Maps method to break down the Halo game universe and the classic Star Wars trilogy. [Part I here] read more
For its subject matter, Zero Dark Thirty became the most controversial movie of 2012, but the storytelling is what makes it the year’s most bold film. The screenplay breaks a lot of rules, but it works, in large part because of the weight of the subject matter and the knowledge that the audience brings into the theater. read more
The new Story Maps book is here! Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan is the most detailed analysis of this brilliant director’s storytelling techniques ever written, and is sold exclusively in PDF format here…
Calling all screenwriters, story analysts, fans of The Dark Knight, Inception, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, Memento, Insomnia and The Prestige:
I invite you to attend my upcoming Webinar hosted by The Writers Store: Story Mapping the Films of Christopher Nolan!
This Webinar includes a FREE CRITIQUE, a Q&A session and an exclusive Inception Story Map (you’ll notice that I’ve never uploaded a map of Inception in my various blog posts about the film, which many call Nolan’s masterpiece.) read more
The trilogy is complete! How close did I get with my predictions?! (Not too shabby, if I may say so myself.)
We’ve seen The Dark Knight Rises twice in the theaters and we have lots to discuss about the film, the story, themes, logic issues and Bane’s voice. Read along with the free The Dark Knight Rises Beat Sheet download as you listen.
the Story Maps Screenwriting Podcast #3:
The Dark Knight Rises:
In anticipation of The Dark Knight Rises opening in theaters on July 20, I’ve been analyzing Christopher Nolan’s films, especially the first two chapters in his Batman trilogy, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I’ve found myself buried so deep into Nolan’s complex story structures that it’s been impossible for me to watch the trailers and not start mapping the story in my head. It’s been keeping me up at night. Even before this latest one, The Dark Knight Rises – Official Trailer #3 [HD], I started to write a Full Story Map for The Dark Knight Rises, sight unseen, based solely on the limited clips and information available on the web.
There’s a lot of speculation online as to the story, but no one has attempted to break down the entire film.
Until now. read more
I’m almost done reading The Hunger Games trilogy of books on my trusty Kindle and I’m seeing the movie in a few hours (as it unleashes a Quarter Quell on the box-office in its opening weekend), so until I can offer an analysis of the screenplay or movie, I thought I’d share one of my first impressions of the story when I read the book. read more
I came across this TED talk by writer/director Andrew Stanton, whose credits include Toy Story 1-3, Finding Nemo, Wall-E and the upcoming John Carter. He’s got some really interesting things to say about the emotional connection between screenwriter (storyteller) and audience (listener), touching on WHY we love a great story, what we expect and how the storyteller should meet these expectations. read more
Gladiator (screenplay by David Franzoni and John Logan and William Nicholson; story by David Franzoni) is a true Hollywood epic that breathed new life into the swords-and-sandals genre, made Russel Crowe a star and gave director Ridley Scott another opportunity to make a brilliant, large scale Hollywood masterpiece.
The film runs at just under 2.5 hours but the story never slows, due to a rock-solid structure that’s focused on a hard-charging throughline and an ever-present controlling theme. read more
Story Maps: How to Write a Screenplay has received another glowing review, from best-selling author Joan Reeves on her site, Slingwords.com. Here’s some excerpts from the review…
“In truth, I found this book to be brilliant.”
Keep reading, and, by the end of the book, it’s as if you absorbed the structure. There’s a harmonic resonance between the story map structure and your writer’s consciousness.
The Shawshank Redemption screenplay by Frank Darabont, based on the novella by Stephen King, is a powerful character-driven drama that covers many years in the lives of multiple characters, all tied together around the theme of “preserving hope in the most hopeless of situations.”
Dan’s 2-Minute Screenwriting School strikes again, this time with a short interview with actor Elijah Wood (the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Ice Storm, Green Street Hooligans, Sin City, and the American version of the single-camera sitcom “Wilfred”).
I’m equally attracted to just simply a great script and not necessarily great character.
I asked Elijah the same question I’ve been asking of other actors/filmmakers, like Louis C.K., Vincent Kartheiser and Graham Yost, and his answer was quite intriguing… read more
<–Back to Part I
What initially caught my eye about this page of text from Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather, with hand-written notes by Francis Ford Coppola, was that this is the scene in The Godfather that I have mentioned for years to my students and clients and one that I highlight in my book, Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay: read more
The Godfather may be the most famous example of a great movie made from a poorly-written book. With the release of this page of text from Mario Puzo’s novel with hand-written notes by Francis Ford Coppola, we can see this claim in action! In other words, if you click on the image below and actually read the text, you can see how bad Puzo’s writing really was and breathe a sigh of relief that Coppola meticulously planned his translation to the screen.