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

4.5 out of 5 stars 220 customer reviews

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Length: 461 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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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: 805 KB
  • Print Length: 461 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0865479518
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Publication Date: October 14, 2008
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0052Z3M8A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,228 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Herpoux Marc on 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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Reviewed by C J Singh (Berkeley, California)
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MASTERING THE CRAFT OF STORY-WRITING

The publisher (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) on the book’s jacket says: “John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants…”

On page 5, Truby says, "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: organic story that grows "naturally out of your original story idea."

ORGANIC STORY is the core concept of Truby's master storytelling, lucidly emphasized throughout the book as story that's internally logical, arising out of characters' psychological and moral weaknesses or needs. The two kinds are differentiated as needs that hurt the character individually (psychological) and needs that hurt others in the story's world (moral).

In support, Truby presents back-engineered craft analyses of films and literary works. Films like “Tootsie,” “The Godfather,” "Casablanca," "Citizen Kane," “Cinema Paradiso," “Pride and Prejudice," “It’s a Wonderful Life.“ Literary Works Jane Austen's "Emma," Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," Emily Bronte's "The Wuthering Heights," Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," and James Joyce's "Ulysses.
Read more ›
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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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