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The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller Hardcover – October 30, 2007
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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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
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Because of the success I had with this method, I used the book again for planning my novel. Now, with a novel there are a few changes that need to be made. More happens in a novel, and of course things like "the audience reveal" are generally strictly cinematic tools and don't translate well to literature. However, I found the same successes with it for novel writing. Same problems being solved, same richness added to the plot and character.
I would recommend this book to anyone writing something with plot. I bought this originally in paperback and purchased the kindle version so that I could just carry around my iPad. Use in conjunction with your favourite other texts (I like Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" beat sheet for pacing. I cross referenced this with my favourite novels from the genre I was writing in to find the appropriate pacing for the novel).
There is no such thing as a magic book that will make you a great writer, BUT if you have skills and a great idea, this will help you workshop and develop the idea to give you something you actually start writing.
This approach didnt feel like it covered everystory. Indeed, he had trouble bringing this to genre type projects. Also, the moral section troubled me because not every story has a moral. Some feel like explorations rather then declarations. Another issue i had with the content is the lack of outdated examlles. Gone with the wind, tootsie, La confidential. I feel updates are neccesary, and this applies to genre as well. More contemporary movies and novels will have a better time resonating with audiences.
Despite my skepticism, i started applying the tools and referring back to it when writing. When i looked at other theoretical frameworks for writing, i discovered there was a lot of overlap. Similar sections but with different language. A prime example of this is Story maps. It better suits my approach to story analysis, while ackowledging all the same topics including theme (which is what tryby referred to as the moral).
Overall i believe truby to be a great resource that shaped the way i approached writing and reading for the better.
I have some favorites out there when it comes to writing (Shawn Coyne, Steve Pressfield, Larry Brooks) and I'd been pretty well versed in outlining and structure. I work in novel writing as opposed to scripts, so I didn't think I needed to add this to my list.
I was wrong. I learned so much and I highly recommend this book.
A couple things were real eye-openers to me.
If you've been working with the three-act structure and doing things like "getting it down" then you might read this and at least see why you could be harming your craft with some habits that might be counter-productive. I know I learned a few things that will save me grief.