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Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate Paperback – January 11, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Libertary Company; Reprint edition (January 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984178627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984178629
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian McDonald is an award-winning director/writer who has written for comic books, A&E's HOARDERS and directed spots for VISA. His film WHITE FACE has run on HBO and CINEMAX and is used in corporations nation-wide as a diversity-training tool.

A sought after instructor and consultant, Brian has taught his story structure seminar at PIXAR, DISNEY FEATURE ANIMATION and LUCASFILM's ILM.

McDonald is the author of INVISIBLE INK -- A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO BUILDING STORIES THAT RESONATE, THE GOLDEN THEME - HOW TO MAKE YOUR WRITING APPEAL TO THE HIGHEST COMMON DENOMINATOR, FREEMAN -- A NOVELLA IN SCREENPLAY FORM and INK SPOTS -- COLLECTED WRITINGS ON STORY STRUCTURE, FILMMAKING AND CRAFTSMANSHIP.

His books are considered required reading for Pixar story interns. McDonald has worked on the Red Badge project for the US Army - a program designed to help returning vets suffering from PTSD learn to write stories in order to help them in their healing.

Customer Reviews

This book is a must read for anyone who is truly serious about becoming a great storyteller.
Eddie Smith
With the exception of Blake Snyder's book, Save The Cat!, I've never had the enthusiasm to read through a screenwriting or story theory book in one sitting.
Ladfam
Invisible Ink is an amazingly lucid and gripping book on how to structure stories in a way that makes sense and will connect with your audience.
Jeremy T. Hanke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Marcio Catalano on March 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Great movies aren't made up of just a bunch of scenes with characters and dialog thrown together. They have a purpose and are well constructed. Films like Casablanca, It's A Wonderful Life, 12 Angry Men, Psycho, The Godfather, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Schindler's List, Star Wars, E.T., Aliens, The Terminator, Ghost, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, The Silence Of The Lambs, The Shawshank Redemption, Toy Story, Finding Nemo and other "classics" stand the test of time and still resonate with audiences many years later because at their core are perfectly constructed stories with a clear message. Any movie can entertain, but only great movies impact us on an emotional level and teach us something, while being entertaining.

When telling ANY story, the construction is what's most important (A good idea, executed poorly, is a bad idea). Every detail (plot, characters, scenes, dialog, etc.) all hang from it's skeleton. If the foundation is weak, the details won't matter.

I've read and owned every major book regarding stories, screenwriting, dialog and character development (Poetics, Robert McKee's "Story," Syd Field's Books and DVD, All of Joseph Campbell and Linda Seger's work, Bill Idelson's Writing Class, etc.)... and still NONE OF THEM teach what this book does!!! Brian breaks down stories better then anyone! He does to story structure what Bruce Lee did to Martial Arts. He's come along and smashed conventional wisdom by simplifying everything and getting to the heart of what stories are about and what makes them work. Here you will get the bedrock fundamentals on the purpose, creation and power of the art of storytelling. No frills, just the straight goods.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. Hamann on March 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
Brian McDonald's book is:

-Full of techniques I've never heard of (& yup, I went to film school)

-Ready-to-use: I learned to keep a notebook with me as I read. I kept finding solutions to problems with the play I was writing at the time.

-A fun read: Most books on screenwriting are a terrible bore. Reading this book is like sitting down with a favorite professor who tells you all the secrets of the writing universe.

On every future writing project, there will be an "Invisible Ink technique" pass. I highly recommend this book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jerry A. Guern on September 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a short book, strongly recommended to me by a Disney animator.

Wow! Without a doubt, this is the most useful and directly applicable book on the craft of storytelling I've ever read. It really shows that MacDonald is an industry pro and an educator, because he focuses on the mistakes that fairly practiced writers make, mistakes that beginners won't even get to for a while.

I've written many story stories, two published, one taking 1st Place in a Writer's Digest competition. I've struggled for a long time to figure out what-the-heck I did that worked so well in those two stories but was evidently missing from all the others. Thanks to Invisible Ink, now I know! And I'm excited to pull out those other stories and start rewriting.

If you're a practiced writer ready to take it to the next level, "Invisible Ink" is what you need.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Smith on March 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for anyone who is truly serious about becoming a great storyteller.

It is even more fit for anyone who thinks they ARE already a great storyteller and just need the book to give them confirmation. Because it WON'T. It will show you how much you don't know, and in some cases how much you have been cheated by movies today, and how much you'll be cheating your audience if you don't understand and LIVE by these story principles that are all bigger than us.

Knowing you don't know a thing - is the first step to becoming a great storyteller...Why? I'll tell you my story...

Once upon a time I first began screenwriting and filmmaking. Everyday I wanted to make films that were smart, powerful, got into festivals, won awards, and made you think. And, after four shortfilms, I have got into festivals and have experienced people tell me that my work was smart, powerful, I've even won some awards, and people said my films made them think...A lot. And immediately I began to think my work was strong, I was a good filmmaker, a good storyteller, I thought I was also a smart filmmaker.

Until one day friend of mine turned me on to Brian McDonald's storystructure course. And on that day, I discovered that I couldn't have been more dumb. WHY? Because nothing in my ambitions of telling stories had anything to do with making them resonate with audiences in a way that MADE THEM FEEL!! And because of this, I felt like I truly missed the boat with my shortfilms. I felt like I cheated my audience.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. H. Kim on March 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is literally true in my case. The contents of this book really messed with my enjoyment of films for a while. I've come to comfortable terms with it now, but beware! Change isn't always pleasant! But Brian's book is illuminating if you are interested in telling stories in any medium and not just films.

Some will look at the contents of this book and brush it off as Hollywood 'formula.' Just another in a long line of guides spouting more Joseph Campbellisms! I completely understand this sentiment. I admire that rebellious streak. But simply keep it in check while you take a gander at Invisible Ink and be open to Brian's wisdom and realize that most of our contempt for 'formula' stems from those who use it poorly. There will be great films mentioned in the book... true favorites... of which you won't even realize these fundamentals were chugging away without you even knowing.

Brian practices what he preaches. His writing is always simple, clear, and a breeze to read. The book will fly by. But don't think for a second that means its creation was a cinch. If you get anything out of this book, it should be that it takes a lot of hard work and discipline to make this stuff look easy. It is anything but.
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