Nihon Hustle

Get better at business storytelling by analyzing screenplays

(One of the best ways to tell your company story, is to practice with some of the most accessible stories of all… scripts)

(originally posted on LinkedIn)


When you learn how to pull apart a screenplay, you’ll start to get really good at figuring out how to nail your own story so it connects with people—immediately if you want, viscerally if you want. Here’s how to get started.

Here’s a great way to practice your storytelling chops.

Grab a movie. Start with a film you know well, or challenge yourself with something new. Then, do a scene-by-scene breakdown of the film—essentially, detail what happens on screen in writing. Get a copy of the script. It will help you with some of the language you’ll need to finesse things, and help you better understand the story.

The goal of this is exercise is to help you find ways to write about things you SEE and HEAR, and in doing so, allows your brain to open up to storytelling language.

When I work with students, I often remind them every conversation we have that’s of any length is simply us telling a story. When I have them make fools of themselves doing improv, the same applies.

Because storytelling is about having fun.
About loosening up.
About emboldening ourselves to screw up and be cool with that.

You WILL find the language, and the courage, I promise. Because most of what will help you get better at writing is just practice, and the injection of your personal style. Once you start, you will reach worlds (and words) you didn’t know you possessed.

And I’m not just talking about fiction. I’m talking about:

—Making your sales emails pop.
—Reinventing how you message your loved ones.
—Learning how to craft a letter (yes, a letter) to the owner of the company you’re hoping to work at that is so damn good, she can’t wait to pick up the phone and call you.

Writing is a skill you can learn. And hone. Just like cooking, running, sex.

Aim to be free of templates so you can find the words that allow your voice to pour onto the page… not the words of someone else in the form of a template. Because you will never sound like your neighbor, and you don’t want to.


Here’s my write up for “Birdman. ” I wrote it back in 2015. I hadn’t seen the film before taking on the assignment, and watched it three times to get a feel for the story. But the real learning came from reading the script, which, God, I must’ve read close to half a dozen times. That ain’t an easy movie to grasp.

It’s also worth noting I did this for free (practice!), and spent money on an editor to help me fine tune it. It also took me upwards of 50 hours to do the work. I wanted to get better at screenwriting, and establish more connections in the film industry. It paid off. You can do the same.

The project was for Scott MYERS’s “Go Into The Story,” which I’d say is the best resource for learning the craft of screenwriting, and writing on the whole.

The breakdown is linked in the first comment if you want to dig in deep.

Have fun. Keep writing!


A fireball descends from the upper atmosphere … pointed, with two trailing ends. (CU on intense flame.)

1–2: Riggan Thomson levitates facing the window of his small theater dressing room. He appears to be meditating, wearing only his underwear, and in full lotus position. A voice: “We don’t belong in this…

Here’s the scene-by-scene breakdown.

#storytelling #writing #film #screenwriting


If you’d like more practical tips like this, as well as access to stories I only release in my “Head Down, Beard Out” email, you can get in on that goodness below. Cheers, D

Cleverly LinkedIn Ad