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

John Truby
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

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

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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: #23,232 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
117 of 123 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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329 of 358 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
To date, several reviews have praised this book uncritically. This review takes a closer look. Truby presents excellent analyses/anatomies of numerous films and literary works. The book also includes some repackaged story-writing techniques. Several other earlier books, examples listed below, have explained these techniques succinctly.

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." 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."

However, 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; Syd Field's pioneering book, "Screenplay," Linda Seger's "Making a Good Script Great," and Robert J Ray's "The Weekend Novelist."

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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80 of 85 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 Insight into the secrets of anchoring a story
It has added an immeasurable depth to my stories, by sparking insights into theme, character, and story itself. Truly insightful and motivating.
Published 10 days ago by stewart wauchop
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and a lifetime of Usefulness!!
This book is excellent for laying out how specifically to to build your story before sitting down to write it.
Published 18 days ago by Reed Riggs
5.0 out of 5 stars Big like and full of details
Big Like
a four hundred pages full of details and examples, i will teach you all the secrets of the storytelling
read it in details and most-liked chapters are:
the... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Tamer Hanna
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book full of easy to understand examples but beware
I purchased the book and found the process well organized and the examples clear. As a non-MFA writer, I was able to follow the process. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J Hendricks
5.0 out of 5 stars Best on Screenwriting (I've read).
Some context: I've read Syd Field, Robert Mackee, Gabriel García Marquez, Blake Snyder; Truby's is the last one I read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by MartinC
5.0 out of 5 stars I was blind but now I see
I am just starting to apply Truby's book and for the first time I feel like a might be able to undertake a Novel project with a specific intent and direction instead of fumbling... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Loretta L. Green
5.0 out of 5 stars if there is a better explanation of how to write a compelling book,...
I feel foolish even reviewing this work, because anyone interested in writing has heard of it, and knows it is the standard by which all other "how to write" books are... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Steve Jennette
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best writing book ever
The Anatomy of Story is a rich, dense , detail-packed guide. I consider it my Bible of writing, a book I can and real refer to at many points in the future. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kim Wright Wiley
1.0 out of 5 stars Thank God I wasn't the only one who hated this book.
I was relieved to see that I was not the only person who hated this book. I was so excited to find it, and tried, tried, TRIED to read through it and give it a chance. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jennifer M. Howe
5.0 out of 5 stars Required for my college film class - Awesome book
This is a required textbook for my college film class. Very well written and informative without being dry. Easy to read and fun to apply. I like!
Published 2 months ago by Genghis
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