“Daniel Calvisi’s Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay
is readable, insightful and exciting.
It focuses on the hard work and narrative strategies
the screenwriter needs to adopt to write a
commercially viable screenplay, and is up to date
and strategic in the clearest way. Dan’s book will help you
do what you must do to succeed with your screenplay.”
-Kenneth Dancyger, Professor of Film at NYU’s Kanbar Institute of
Film and Television and Author of
Broadcast Writing, Alternative Scriptwriting,
The Technique of Film and Video Editing and
Writing the Short Film (Focal Press)
“I love how Dan emphasizes the fundamentals of storytelling.
A great script starts with a solid structure and
that’s what one learns in Dan’s classes“
-Ryu Miyaki, four-time Act Four client and
winner of Amazon Studios Script of the Month $20,000 Prize
PRAISE FOR MY BOOK:
“There is a lot of great advice here…
Most important, as I read Calvisi’s Story Maps,
I was inspired to rethink my current project.
And that’s what it’s all about, right?”
-Heather Hale, Script Magazine (Full Review)
“”Writing a great screenplay is not easy. Dan has created a book that is straightforward and full of valuable insight and guidance for screenwriters at different experience levels. This book provides a simple way to approach your idea or rewrite for maximum results…and helpful to evaluate your work in whatever stage it’s at so you can make necessary improvements that will allow your unique story and vision to shine!”
-Laurie Lamson, co-editor Now Write! Screenwriting
“In truth, I found this book to be brilliant. [But] please don’t think the book is composed only of structural templates. It’s not, and I don’t want anyone to not buy the book because they have that expectation. Story Maps gives you excerpts from actual screenplays, showing you the format and language on the page in use by pro screenwriters. Any book that gives lessons in the skill of blowing the reader away is a book writers need to read. From the Introduction to Dan’s closing, “Good luck and Happy Writing,” Story Maps delivers. Imagine sitting around a coffee shop or a bar and talking one-on-one to a movie-writing, storytelling pro like Dan Calvisi. A no-holds barred, no frills, tell-it-like-it-really-is, no sugar-coating conversation. That’s what reading this book is like.” -Best-selling author Joan Reeves, Slingwords review
“Just finished your book. Loved it! Should be required reading in every film school.”
–Daniel Fazel, sold screenwriter and VFX Artist (Alice in Wonderland, Benjamin Button, Speed Racer, I Robot)
“I’ve read numerous books on screenwriting, story and structure but none come close to Dan Calvisi’s Story Maps – Calvisi simplifies structure, the principals of screenwriting and offers ‘real world’ insight into the profession. Put it simply – this book is a MUST for all screenwriters… Dan, I’ve referred it to some colleagues, produced writers who can certainly use your mapping techniques. Keep up the good work!”
–Michael Adante Writer/Director (Vanished, The Line)
“I’ve read your book, and can honestly say it’s one of the best. I’ve read a lot of them, and I’m in the camp that likes to know what I don’t know, so that I can work towards something, all the time trying to listen to one’s instinct or gut on story decisions … [Your method] resonates with what others say, but is so crystal clear, and defined that it’s actually refreshingly simple. I agree also with your analysis of what makes a good screenwriting teacher. Your experience…is perfect. You’ve read, reviewed, recommended/rejected countless scripts, unlike many of the gurus. You know how good scripts work. Congratulations on the excellent and extremely useful book. I’m about to re-read it so I have a thorough grasp, and apply it to my new script, and I’m very happy (and flattered) to write this testimonial.”
-Steve Isles Director/Producer, Authentic Films & Composer (Guy Ritchie’s RockNRolla)
“Calvisi’s Story Maps is a brilliant example of what every aspiring screenwriter needs to know about the art of writing screenplays. 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 (Tiger Claws I, II, III, The Veteran, Shadows in Paradise)
“Dan’s Story Maps e-book is an essential tool for screenwriters at all levels, providing invaluable insight into the architecture of screenwriting. The maps of produced films are great, especially his discovery of the ‘sweet spots’ for story turns, and learning the structure that Calvisi illustrates is something all writers should have engrained into their nature as creatives, before they type that first FADE IN.”
-Paul Van Carter, screenwriter, Lenny McLean [Hollywood Reporter]
“Your book is by far the best one on the topic that my wife and I have seen. My background is academic writing. I have written several books and many papers in the area of philosophy of education. I can say with some expertise, you are a natural teacher. The essence of good teaching is giving direction to tendencies already present. Anyone who already has the urge, drive, or passion to write screenplays cannot find better direction than that presented in Dan Calvisi’s Story Maps.”
-Jerome Popp, Professor Emeritus
“I vowed I’d never look at another story map/plot plan/paradigm etc. again because they seem to throw me in a different direction each time I read one. But your examples guided rather than confined me, so I broke my own rule.”
“Thank you for sending the e-book so promptly! It looks great in Kindle on my Ipad.”
“Really love your books. I pretty much have every type of screenwriting book out there.”
“I’ve read Story by McKee and a few other books etc. and they are very helpful but I’ve been trying to write for a while and always get stuck when it comes to moving things forward past the first few scenes. I always said to myself, Can’t someone just break down a movie in bullet point format so I can see how the thing is supposed to progress – much like writing a memo – so I can visualize the structure better? Looks like you’ve done that and that’s what led to the purchase.”
“I looked for something analytical and concise about screenplay structure without the You can do it and be reeeeally creative if you get in touch with your inner self stuff. [I wanted] something about mapping out the story and… voila!… your web site. I thought, ‘I’d better give your book a try.'”
“I have studied dozens of screenwriting books and I can say without any doubt that Story Maps is definitely within the top 3 of the books that most inspired me.”
“It’s way deeper than Save the Cat and other story mapping techniques I’ve read. I’m currently re-booting my latest script with Dan’s technique. Finally, things are flowing and hitting the mark. A must for beginners and pros.”
“Metaphorically speaking, Dan is a great Swordsman who knows, like Indiana Jones, how and when just to use a gun instead of fancy martial arts to make a point!”
“I stumbled upon your site as I was searching for different methods to write a screenplay. I have to say that I really like your method and look forward to applying it to my current project. I have written before but never a screenplay. My fiancee is a cinematographer and he pitched a story and believes I can write a great screenplay for it. Hopefully, with this I can. Thanks again!”
“To be able to read something before committing to buy…is the greatest marketing technique for e-books. (And why I also bought a Kindle) . I notice you let people read excerpts from your book at your website (which is great).”
“One of the most practical guides that I have seen and I’m not just KILLING ‘YOU WITH KINDNESS (AND/OR STROKING YOUR EGO!) Most books or online info is just the same stuff rehashed and packaged in a different cover. I can actually use this stuff and apply it to my work. Looking forward to sending you some questions. Thanks.”
SOME RAVES ABOUT MY CLIENTS:
Congrats to Sean Lynch on winning Amazon Studios’ $20,000 Best Horror Script for Darkest Before Dawn.
Congrats to David Loucka on the release of Dream House, a major motion picture from Dreamworks starring Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts.
Congrats to Glen Merzer on the staged reading of his comedy screenplay Best Seller at the WGA theater, starring Kevin Pollak and Ed Begley, Jr.
Congrats to Ryu Miyaki on winning the $20,000 Amazon Studios prize for his screenplay Rayfield Scott (which he developed in my Master Class and he has also adapted into a fantastic graphic novel).
Eric Wilson’s urban drama Graffitti Park has attached an agent who is currently shopping it.
Ron Cecchini was a finalist in the Silver Screenwritng Competition with his script Blue Lady.
Joseph Puterbaugh was a finalist in the Silver Screenwriting Competition with his script The Jack Johnson Story.
Alan Sproles & Lizanne Southgate won Second Runner-Up for the prestigious Kairos Prize for their historical drama The Translator.
TESTIMONIALS FROM MY CONSULTATION CLIENTS AND STUDENTS:
“I read over your notes, and it really made things much simpler for me. You made some really good suggestions, and I want to thank you for your time. Excellent service, Dan. I’ll be coming back to you sooner or later!”
-Gaurav M. 2-time client
“Hey Dan. Thanks for your help on the “Graffiti Park” script. Due to your advice, my writing partner and I were able to secure an agent who wants to work with us on possible packaging. I will be coming to you for more advice on making the script great.”
“What I value most about Dan’s consultations is the high level of experience that he brings to bear on your scripts. For me, his years of intense study of and dedication to the craft of screenwriting is most evident in the no nonsense way with which he pinpoints bad habits and blind spots in your writing, problem areas that you must address — invariably through outside help — if you are to write a screenplay that WORKS. Best of all, however, is how Dan prescribes a SIMPLE problem solving method that emphasizes that which is most important in screenwriting, but which often seems so elusive to writers who might have a great concept and interesting ideas, namely the basic mechanics of STORY! ”
“Dan took my logline from so-so to SO POWERFUL! in one conversation. This guy’s a genius!”
-Julie Lynch, Writer/Director of the Award-Winning Film, Remembering Sex, starring Amy Ryan and Brooke Smith.
“Dan’s Story Maps is by far the most concise method I’ve come across. Although I’ve only had a brief opportunity to work with him once on my first screenplay, I’ve used this method countless times to analyze movies I watch and to develop my screenplays. This method alone, made me understand structure, theme, character arcs and so much more. Not only does he outline the beats and turns in each act, but he gives examples from movies you’ve seen to get an idea of what he’s talking about. He’s also quite generous with his discounts and offers!”
“Your story maps are VERY helpful…REALLY HELPFUL.”
“Attached is my story map for “Rabid,” mapped out with the fabulous Calvisi structure paradigm! I found the paradigm clear, easy to follow and helpful.”
“Highly informative notations, easy to understand recommendations and criticisms that get to the point without stabbing in the heart. Consultation was outstanding, more like a meeting of creative minds than a critique. Ideas are bounced both ways and I genuinely felt they were all headed in the right direction…the best possible screenplay. Top notch.”
“Thank you for all the great feedback. I can honestly say this has been the most beneficial information I’ve gotten so far in my writing career since I got started.”
“Thank you Dan, your encouraging words have helped me a lot! THANK YOU! I’ll do as you say and study your As Good As It Gets Story Map and watch the movie. As I said, I’ll send you the next assignment on Wednesday and an update on my Full Story Map.”
“Dan, thank you for the notes. Very insightful and very helpful. I’m looking at the screenplay in a whole new way. Sorry for getting back to you late. I am back in the States, and I am enjoying myself before I leave in a couple days. I am working on another screenplay I will likely be sending your way soon.”
Sincerely, Lt. Steven V., 3-time client who wrote 2 scripts while stationed in Iraq (and you think you have good excuses?!)
“Hi Dan, just to let you know, I’ve been continuing writing, I’m almost half way through now and I’ll come back to you for a review of the completed first draft. I wanted to tell you how much our first consultation has helped me. I know that I would never be at the point I’m at now if it wasn’t for you.”
“Your notes were insightful. Professional criticism is why I hired you.”
“I have used Dan’s services twice and I can say that it was an invaluable resource as I begin the preproduction process of my film. I could tell Dan gave me the straight-talk on my script from the position of the audience and potential investors, and gave me the wherewithal to shape the script to its full potential, giving me the confidence to get the ball rolling with production and release it to an audience.”
“Hey Dan, not sure if you remember reading The Auteur, but your coverage was massively helpful. We made the film, it’s played festivals and can now be purchased through I-Tunes. Would be fun to hear what you think of the actual movie after having read the script.”
“I had used [popular service #1] and [popular service #2] just to realize they give “template” feedback. I’m not looking to waste my hard-earned money for zombie-like feedback. I look forward to working with you.”
“Thanks for your truly professional read of my screenplay. Your margin notes told me immediately how I’d gotten too close to the story and couldn’t see it clearly anymore.”
“Your notes are extremely helpful and I very much appreciate your time, attention to detail and professionalism on my script. I look forward to meeting you in person and also taking my script from good to GREAT!”
“Out of the 10 people who read my first draft, you were able to give me the direction the story really needed.”
“Dan, thank you very much for taking the time in going through my script so thoroughly. I enjoyed going through the notes and was very pleased at the rough amount of criticism I received, as it will only help me improve.”
“I don’t think my agent or her readers could have given even a hair’s breadth of the insight that you offered. In fact, they were pretty much done giving me notes, I was on an island…I really understood your Full Consultation notes better after reading your Story Maps e-book a couple times. It really helps organize the writing process…You taught me a great macro lesson about my writing: I need to head toward (escalating) conflict and drama…I really appreciated that in some places you pointed out problems, and even suggested solutions. Thank you.”
– Alex E., repped novelist and new screenwriter.
“Once again you demonstrate your UNCANNY SKILL for zeroing in on unclear thinking that leads to plot weakness! Your points immediately clarified some things for me — lightbulbs are clicking on all over the place.”
– C. Michelle Kaplan, produced screenwriter and playwright (client of screenplay consultations and online classes)
“In my two classes and one consultation with Dan, I’ve completed one screenplay and have a draft of a second one. ”
“Just wanted to thank you for a terrific job. Everything you said rang very true. I love the food for thought that you posed…perfect and so right on. Thanks again!
Sincerely, Cindy G.
“Dear Dan, Congratulations. Your story map which I followed for the rewriting of “The Message” is certainly the MOST POWERFUL TOOL I have ever used and heard of. It has helped my laziness, my lack of confidence and all my troubles. Thank you again.”
All the best, Brigitte C.
“Just wanted to thank you for the constructive thoughts on my logline. Interest in my logline on Inktip.com went up drastically and I have a company interested in reading the script. Several others have read the synopsis, since changing the logline.”
“Hi Dan: Just wanted to thank you for your input on my screenplay. It’s been through revisions since that time, and I’ve begun submitting it to screenplay contests. It was named one of fifty finalists in the Red Inkworks competition (#22), and I’m waiting to hear from a few more. Thank you also for the coaching on my pitch. Look forward to working with you again.”
Best Regards, Michael M.
“I just wanted to say you have a great website. The other day I spent a lot of time on your site and you have a wealth of information on it – all great stuff. I love your use of actual screenplays to drive your points.”
Best, Alan C.
“Thanks so much for your multiple rounds of notes on “Smilers.” “Smilers” is now the 9th most successful romantic comedy screenplay in terms of contest results, according to Moviebytes. It placed in the top 30 in Scriptapalooza (beating out 3950+ other scripts). And thanks for all the feedback on my two other scripts.”
“Last weekend, I returned from a Robert Mckee seminar in Vegas feeling both inspired and deflated all at once. I was feeling sorry for myself tonight and ran a search with the phrase, “Screenwriters who don’t give up.” Your essay, “Don’t Give Up” popped up first thing. I wasn’t looking for a motivational piece but rather something that would reaffirm for me just how stupid it is to hang on by a mere thread of faith/hope! After reading your essay, I read all your pages and felt I wanted to write and thank you. Something (everything) clicked for me. Thank you so much.”
“I have to say this exercise (Story Mapping the X-Men films) was really beneficial for me, as it made me think of the stories in a more structured way – this was better than merely reading Syd Field.”
“Dan, what can I say about your method, it works to the minute! I’d tried using [another consultant’s] beat sheets to do some analysis. Although I found some practical usefulness in them, the sheets didn’t really do much for me in terms of giving a fully rounded picture of the script. But…it’s your combination of all the areas – e.g. logline/engine/protag/ending and the map itself that really makes it easier to approach and I think, gave me some new insight into one of my favorite films. It’s also a very unpreachy, un-didactic skim through those notes which is a blessing and you have a bit of leeway on timings, etc. I notice that even the more offbeat films on your list seem to have a ‘conventional’ structure. Interesting…”
Cheers! Paul R. from the U.K.
CALL TO ACTION:
- Get professional notes and coaching on your completed screenplay.
- Develop a new screenplay from scratch with the guidance of an industry professional.
- Hire an industry pro to rewrite your script for you.
- Ask me a question.
Fluff-free and focused. I’d read Story Maps when it was e-version. I reread it in paper and keep it in my top drawer.
I was already hooked when I read the first few chapters of Story maps. He provided rich information to build solid storytelling skills. I even enjoyed reading the Boosters that Dan breaks down from several well known films. It helps me to break down my own story. Thanks Dan for providing us your knowledge. I look forward to reading more of your work. R…
After reading Dan’s free story maps provided on his website, I was hooked. I realized that this guy knows what he’s talking about, and that I was definitely missing key elements in my own work. His ideas make sense; if you watch any movie and read his story map, I guarantee you will see exactly what he is talking about. Thanks Dan, I can’t wait for the Nolan booster pack.