- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 14, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0865479933
- ISBN-13: 978-0865479937
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 0.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 294 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller Paperback – October 14, 2008
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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Truby attempts to inform the entire story, addressing plot, character, tone, symbolism, and dialog. The key here is to grow a script organically rather than force the story into preexisting mechanics . . . Highly recommended.” ―Library Journal
“A comprehensive guide to writing stories of all kinds, Truby's tome is invaluable to any writer looking to put an idea to paper.” ―Booklist
“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
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Truby walks you through each step of getting to know your supporting characters to force you to think beyond cardboard cutouts. These characters can no longer stand in to artificially move you through your scenes—he shows how every character must serve the story to provide a distorted mirror reflection to your hero's moral problem. Truby provides exceptional examples of how screenwriters and novelists have integrated a moral problem into their works, and like some kind of alchemist, Truby unlocks the secrets of what makes these great stories work.
I applied these exercises to a novel I've been struggling with for almost a decade. This book gave me the tools to revisit these characters of mine as if seeing them in new dimensions. Their motivations became more clear, and the plot snapped into place from a rambling, unfocused adventure, to a taut, cohesive adventure-thriller. This will be my fifth revision ('revision' is not brutal enough of a word—I've rewritten this thing each time from scratch) , and will most likely the last time I'll ever have to write it from scratch.
And no. NO, using this tool does not make your story formulaic. 'The Godfather', 'Star Wars IV', 'Chinatown', 'Tootsie', The Harry Potter books, Faulkner, Hemingway, Twain, and Shakespeare are all used as examples how this system can work.
Shut up and try it.