Impressions: Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay

Impressions: Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay

Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay
Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay by Daniel Calvisi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book on plotting for screenwriters or novelists. Calvisi distills a ton of information into concise chunks, and explains the beats of successful commercial fiction. I’m always on the lookout for plotting books, as it’s an area that interests me and continues to confound me. What I loved most in the book was his story map, both simple and detailed. By using this as a guide when planning a story, it really helps keep you focused, and ensures you’ve got a cohesive and cogent story. Excellent book and highly recommended.

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Impressions: Perfecting Plot: Charting the Hero’s Journey (Red Sneaker Writers Book Series)

Impressions: Perfecting Plot: Charting the Hero’s Journey (Red Sneaker Writers Book Series)

Perfecting Plot: Charting the Hero's Journey (Red Sneaker Writers Book Series)
Perfecting Plot: Charting the Hero’s Journey (Red Sneaker Writers Book Series) by William Bernhardt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

William Bernhardt’s Red Sneakers Writing series is one of the most useful writer’s aids I’ve come across. They’re like Cole’s Notes version of writing books, and each volume focuses on a specific aspect. Concise, and packed with useful hints and tips.

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Handwritten Plotting

Handwritten Plotting


Gay Talese’s outline for his classic profile “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”

I found an article by Emily Temple with some fascinating examples of author’s handwritten plots for their novels. I do everything in software these days, but I’m always interested in learning how the best plan their work. I’m on the hunt for those little secret nuggets that will make my books all that much better–like rare spices to ad to your favorite recipe.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorites from that post: The first is my favorite, and though for a magazine article, I love the little geometric sketches, and plan for emotional beats in the article.


James Salter’s outline for Light Years


J.K. Rowling’s spreadsheet plan for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.


Joseph Heller’s chart outline for Catch-22.


Henry Miller’s manuscript plan for Tropic of Capricorn


Norman Mailer’s character timeline for Harlot’s Ghost


Library Chair?

Library Chair?

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 3.02.18 PMI found this amazing library chair in Writer’s Digest this month. I think any of us bibliophiles and authors definitely need this!

If you have one, send me pics!

Here’s the description from ETSY:

Library Chair

Fully upholstered button-cushion club chair with armrests and a built in 27 feet of shelf storage for books and DVDs. Very comfortable deep seat, perfect for sitting and reading, enveloped by your library!

Secret compartment under seat, accessed from behind bottom shelf books, for hiding away those extra special things. On rolling castors for easy movement.

Can be upholstered in any material and painted in any color. Stained veneer surface available on top at additional cost.

  • Overall dimensions:
  • Width: 37 ½ inches
  • Depth: 33 ½ inches
  • Height: 31 ½ inches
  • Seat dimensions:
  • Width: 24 inches
  • Depth: 23 3/4 inches
  • Height: 18 inches
  • Shelf heights:
  • Top/Middle shelf: 8 1/4 inches
  • Bottom shelf: 9 inches
  • Total length of shelving: 27 feet

The Link on ETSY


Space Opera as its own Genre?

Space Opera as its own Genre?

9713725239_121288e999_science-fictionShould Space Opera (SO) be its own genre, as opposed to a sub-genre of Science Fiction? I think it should. To me, Science Fiction is Wonder Literature. Dave Farland thinks that books might better be categorized by the emotions they evoke:

…we don’t really even have “genres” in fiction. Books are sold based upon the emotion that they’re supposed to evoke. Thus, romance books evoke romance, thrillers arouse feelings associated with adventure, mysteries give us our dopamine rush, and of course we have horror. If you look science fiction and fantasy, you’ll understand why they were called “wonder” literatures as early as the 1960s. – Dave Farland

science fiction photoI think they would be great primary categories, but I’d still want to see more granular genres. Back to Space Opera and Science Fiction: When I think of Science Fiction, I think of new ideas, or hard-science. When I think of Space Opera, I think of drama in space, and re-packaged tropes. I’m not knocking SO, in fact, I love it, and it’s what I most enjoy reading and writing. But movies like Star Wars don’t inspire me to think of science, so why call it science fiction? It’s a Soap Opera set in space = Space Opera, right?

Many folks would say that there is already Hard Science Fiction, which is where the author tries to abide by the confirmed laws of physics and accepted theories. (Don’t get me started defending Warp Drive – Alcubierre Drive)

What do you think?


* Don’t forget to check out my latest novel: Star Viking 


Star Viking Available Now!

Star Viking Available Now!


Order NOW!

Star Viking

The first inter-stellar feudal state was dedicated to just one purpose: crushing the Hrymar.

Haldor Olsen has sworn an oath to see it done.

Driven to avenge his wife and son, he also seeks to protect the remaining human colonies, and to free those taken as slaves.

But there is a new urgency to the war. The Hrymar are experimenting on Human children.

In a universe where a five-year-old girl can destroy a battle fleet, where an ancient-evil awakens, and Viking gods still have a hand in the world of Humanity, can Olsen keep his oath, avenge his family, and save humanity from the Hrymar?

Across a thousand-light-years these forces threaten to become an apocalyptic future that could sunder the stars themselves.



* Haven’t read Books 1 or 2 yet? No problem! Download the Trilogy, plus the prequel, at 40% off cover prices! All in one eBook. For Kindle or Kobo.

About the series:

The Tribes of Yggdrasil series begins just over a century in our future, but it’s a time you might not recognize. A century has been shaped by contact with mankind’s mythological past and the intervention of ancient alien races. It’s a time where starships ply the stars, where Alfar build great living-cities on their planets, and where the Dvergar dominate the local stellar-economy. It’s a time where mankind meets a great evil, the Hrymar, a twisted offshoot of the elves, and it’s a time where the old Viking Gods walk among the stars.

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