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The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller Hardcover – October 30, 2007
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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.
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"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
Top customer reviews
John Truby has written a masterpiece! Now, when I see a well-made movie or read a really good book, I recognize the makings of his 22 steps lurking there beneath the story. I ask myself, how can I apply Mr. Truby's advice to my own writings? How can I make the plot thicken and my characters stand out from the normal run-of-the-mill stories that abound these days? The answers are here!
Highly recommended for any writer, beginners as well as seasoned veterans!
This is one technique book that I found hard to put down. And it's one that I will definitely reread. I wish Mr. Truby had more volumes printed about genres and craft, I understand that there are audio classes you can purchase and download. I'd much prefer more actual books, though.
Truby guides you through finding what it is you will be most deeply concerned with, because let's face it, only that will fascinate you sufficiently to sustain the long-term effort of producing a novel. He deals with the depths of plot, the characters, the symbolism, and those of the writer too.
And if this has you shrieking and running for cover? Unshriek, come out from behind the whatever, and buy this book. You will be shown through examples as varied as "The Matrix," "Casablanca," and "Pride and Predjuidice" how these authors worked their magic, and how you can too.
This is not "Go through your ms. and cross out all the adverbs." This is scene weaving, the moral redemption of the antagonist, and creating an organic plot, the titular 22 steps.
Because it is structured as it is, "Anatomy" is a book you are going to need on your bookshelf, or in your cloud. Some of the work you do with it will be done once every so often, to plumb your own depths, and some of it will be useful with every book you write. Along with Larry Brooks' "Story Engineering" and Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat," this is a book you learn something new from every time you pick it up.
Don't hesitate to buy this book. It's an investment in yourself as a writer. But read the other two first, and in the order mentioned.