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The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller [Kindle Edition]

John Truby
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $8.89
You Save: $8.11 (48%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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What If? by Randall Munroe
From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, find hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. Learn more
Visualize Your Script: Hey screenwriters, check out Amazon Storyteller, a new (and free) tool from Amazon Studios that turns scripts into storyboards. Learn more.


Book Description

John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry, and his students have gone on to pen some of Hollywood's most successful films, including Sleepless in Seattle, Scream, and ShrekThe Anatomy of Story is his long-awaited first book, and it shares all of his secrets for writing a compelling script. Based on the lessons in his award-winning class, Great Screenwriting, The Anatomy of Story draws on a broad range of philosophy and mythology, offering fresh techniques and insightful anecdotes alongside Truby's own unique approach for how to build an effective, multifaceted narrative. Truby's method for constructing a story is at once insightful and practical, focusing on the hero's moral and emotional growth. As a result, writers will dig deep within and explore their own values and worldviews in order to create an effective story. Writers will come away with an extremely precise set of tools to work with--specific, useful techniques to make the audience care about their characters, and that make their characters grow in meaningful ways. They will construct a surprising plot that is unique to their particular concept, and they will learn how to express a moral vision that can genuinely move an audience.

The foundations of story that Truby lays out are so fundamental they are applicable--and essential--to all writers, from novelists and short-story writers to journalists, memoirists, and writers of narrative non-fiction.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Teacher and screenplay doctor Truby (responsible for popular screenwriting software Blockbuster) brings his complicated but time-tested story development system to print for the first time, a 22-point process that's more thorough-"an extremely precise map of your entire plot" that "shows you the most dramatic way to tell your story"-but also more unwieldy than the traditional "three-act" technique. For example, the first seven steps Truby introduces apply to structure: develop "weakness and need" and "desire" in your hero, give him an "opponent" and a "plan" for overcoming that opponent, then throw in a "battle" that leads to "self-revelation" and, finally, a "new equilibrium." Chapters build on each other, fleshing out these steps with a number of terms and concepts (character types include hero, main opponent, ally, fake-ally opponent and fake-opponent ally) that alternate between cagey (the "character web") and confusing (the nearly indistinguishable "designing principle," "theme line" and "moral argument"). Further frustration arises in Truby's examples, old movies retrofitted with his techniques (most notably The Godfather and Tootsie) rather than a script that has actually been put through Truby's paces (or, even better, a new script invented just to demonstrate the steps). Following Truby's complex system may yield a memorable screenplay, but writers without great patience may find it more trouble than it's worth.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"The Anatomy Of Story is concrete and practical without resorting to simplistic 'Three Act Structure' screenwriting clichés. It will be an indispensable guide to writing your first great script. Then, the perfect survival manual to help you negotiate the often confusing, contradictory and cutthroat world of professional screenwriting."  --Larry Wilson, co-writer /co-producer of BEETLEJUICE and co-writer of THE ADDAMS FAMILY

"A veritable bible for screenwriters." –Backstage 
 
"If you're ready to graduate from the boy-meets-girl league of screenwriting, meet John Truby...[His lessons draw] epiphanies that make you see the contours of your psyche as sharply as your script." –LA Weekly

Product Details

  • File Size: 803 KB
  • Print Length: 468 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0865479933
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0052Z3M8A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,755 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
133 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not only a "how to book" November 6, 2007
Format:Hardcover
I'm French and it's not easy for me to say in english simply this book is very important for the history of narration.

It's not a basic book about the three-act structure. It's not a "how to book" with a little formula and a couple of advice without interest for a real writer.

I'm a screenwriter in my country and I read a lot of books on writing - maybe hundred. Generally, it's always the same recipe again and again:
A story has to have a beginning, a middle and an end; a main character with a goal, then plenty of obstacles in a middle, and a climax at the end, and so on.
OK, and after that?
You are in front of your blank page and...
Nothing!
Just theory!

With this book it's very different. There are many techniques (real techniques, practical techniques) and a real point of view about what the narration should be in general.

What's a story? How to write something clever - not only with "suspens", "mystery", or "action" - but with meaning!
How to develop your theme, your values, your moral, through your story, step by step.
How to write something with your voice, your unique voice, your emotion, your personality, and very important: your own structure!!!

I don't know if John Truby is a "guru" or something.
But I know John Truby is a great "essayist" on writing. John Truby knows his subject very well and you can feel it, page after page.

All serious writers should read this book, a French is telling you.

Good reading

Marc Herpoux
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339 of 367 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truby's "THE ANATOMY OF STORY": A CLOSER LOOK November 13, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Truby presents excellent analyses/anatomies of numerous films and literary works.

On page 5, Truby writes: "My goal is to explain how a great story works, along with the techniques needed to create one.... I'm going to lay out a practical poetics for story-tellers that works whether you're writing a screenplay, a novel, a play, a teleplay, or a short story. I will show that a great story is organic--not a machine but a loving body that develops; treat storytelling as an exacting craft with precise techniques; work through a writing process that is also organic meaning that we will develop characters and plot that grow naturally out of your original story idea." Promising.

He goes on to present very engaging analyses of films and literary works: films like "Citizen Kane," "Casablanca," "Cinema Paradiso," "Shawshank Redemption," "Hannah and her Sisters," and "Lord of the Rings"; literary works like Jane Austen's "Emma," Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," Emily Bronte's "The Wuthering Heights," Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," James Joyce's "Ulysses," and Mario Puzo's "The Godfather."

Several of the techniques Truby presents -- such as starting with a one-sentence premise, developing the story line from the premise, creating contrasting characters, weaving in the inside emotional story -- are also the techniques in Lajos Egri's clasic, "The Art of Dramatic Writing" and in Syd Field's pioneering book, "Screenplay."

On the opening page, Truby says: "Terms like 'rising action,' 'climax,' 'progressive complication,' and 'denouement,' terms that go as far back as Aristotle, are so broad and theoretical as to be almost meaningless.
Read more ›
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87 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for novelists December 15, 2007
Format:Hardcover
This is easily one of my favorite writing books. Since other reviewers have taken this from a screenwriter's perpsective, I'm going to be different and come at from a novelist's.

So many books focus on fill-in-the-blank forms, checklists, and "hero's journey" archetypes (and its many variations), that you begin to feel like you're just spinning your wheels, piling up unconnected plot points and factoids about characters, but getting nowhere. It seems like you're doing all the right things, but somehow it's just not working.

What makes this book effective is its true emphasis on 'story.' Truby makes a sound case against relying on the 3-act theater paradigm for structure, including questioning its value for novelists - and he makes a good case. Abandoning that constraint opens up far more plotting possiblities to fill 250 to 400 pages. He also uses a variety of examples, from popular films to classic novels. Not being the hugest of movie buffs, I found that helpful.

His character-building gets away from the usual checklists and forms (those never really work for me), with a more organic, story role-based approach that makes you take a hard look at what significance each character has in your story, if the character's role needs revising to better fit that role, or even whether you need that character at all.

The emphasis on story means there's nothing really on page counts or screenplay formats or selling to Hollywood, so there's more grist in here for the novelist. Even if you're an experienced, published novelist, this book will give you a new way of looking at your current project.

I struggled haphazardly with a fiction project for over a year. This book helped me look at it in a new way so that I can finish it rather than abandon it. Now I feel it's getting back on track. "The Anatomy of Story" is a thick book, to be sure, but very readable, and it's a must-read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
This book was everything I anticipated and more. It even helped me see life in a different perspective. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Hannah
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific analysis of plot and structure
This book offers a very thorough analysis of plot and structure. If a writer has the patience to work through these steps, the resulting story would hold an audience's attention.
Published 5 days ago by Donna S. Meredith
2.0 out of 5 stars If you can check it out through your library then that would be...
Eh. it's okay, but not a necessary book for writers. If you can check it out through your library then that would be better, or just Google it as all the info is available for free... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Eddie the Lizard
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
Bought this on the recommendation of two writing friends and my regret is that they didn't speak up sooner. Read more
Published 6 days ago by H Mays
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Cool Book
Skip screenwriting school. I should have had this book years ago-- the lessons contained within would have made a difference.
Published 17 days ago by EW
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have!
Wow - any screenwriter would love the step by step in this book
Published 18 days ago by A reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I was looking for
Solid book that is just the right pace for me to grow in my writing. I recommend it for deepening your craft with good techniques.
Published 22 days ago by Robert Huerta
4.0 out of 5 stars Truby Takes Story to the Next Level!
I have read several books on how to craft a story and Truby's was a great breath of fresh air for me. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Tom V
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Informative, detailed, and practical advice.
Published 24 days ago by Sandra Gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars A great tutor at your fingertips!
John Truby is a great tutor for writers. I followed his seminar and learned a.o.t. about the necessity of outlining your story and about mixing different genres. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Vrancken
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