Index of Essays       Blog       A Story is a Promise       Script Services

Notes on All The Light We Cannot See, my latest MailChimp post on the craft of writing.


These essays explore how to write a novel, a screenplay, and writing for the stage. By offering scene by scene breakdowns of popular stories, you can learn to write well from understanding what successful authors are doing to create compelling stories.

Capsule reviews of current movies with an emphasis on story structure and lessons on how to write a movie script. Current reviews include Mad Max, Tangerine and The Visit.

This site offers writers new ideas on the essential elements of storytelling through reviews of popular novels, plays, and screenplays.

--Bill Johnson

"I have never reviewed anything on Amazon before but I feel so indebted to Bill Johnson that I have to give him a review. I went to a big name film school for college and throughout the entire 4 years and thousands of dollars, I never learned more about storytelling then I did reading this 3 dollar kindle book. Bill Johnson really gives you the map to the maze. After 6 years of making movies, I had some idea on what made a story work and what didn't, but Bill Johnson really gives the theoretical groundwork to what makes a story resonate with an audience. Not only did the book corroborate some ideas that I already had but enriched them and gave me so much more to think about. Thank You Bill!"

Posted from Bill's Amazon Central Author page.

Site Awards

What's new:

Mental Illness as a Literary Device

Notes on the opening chapters of Allen Eskens' novel The Life We Bury and how mental illness creates drama for the main character.

Writing Lean and Mean

A review of the Lee Child's novel Jack Reacher, The Midnight Line.

Using a Timeline to Tell a Story

A review of the movie Arrival.

Using an Unreliable Narrator in a Novel

A review of Paula Hawkin's novel The Girl on the Train.

Beginning a Novel With a Mysterious Stranger

Notes on the Opening Chapter of Hank Coben's The Stranger

Understanding Narrative Tension

A video created for an online class that I taught for Pennwriters. I use examples from Harry Potter, Prince of Tides, Funeral For Horses, the Ambassadors, and All Creatures Great and Small. I will be teaching classes on different topics for Pennwriters in 2018.


All material on this web site copyright 1998-2018 Bill Johnson; all rights reserved.

A video I created about the life of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain.

Bill Johnson's A Story 
is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling book cover

A fifth edition of my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling, is now available for $2.99 from Amazon Kindle.

This edition offers new, unique tools for creating vibrant story characters, how to outline a novel, and a guide to writing a novel, screenplay, or play, how to evaluate a manuscript, review a screenplay, and tools to revise a novel.

A fifth edition of my writing workbookA Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling is available as a trade paperback from Amazon for $13.99.


In I Am Light, a young man drops out of college and comes home to find his apartment burned to ashes. He adopts the mantra I am light to try and create a new life for himself.

Available on Amazon

The cover of Bill Johnson's novella, I Am Light.