Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
INSIDE STORY Paperback – 2007
Featured world language titles
Sponsored by McGraw-Hill Learn more.
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Part of what makes these problems sticky is that prior to Marks's theory, it was difficult to determine if these non-localized problems had been handled properly. Indeed, one didn't even know what questions to ask of the first draft.
On the other hand, it's easy to address localizable problems - is the hero committed to an external goal at the first act point, does the hero encounter escalating external obstacles in the second act, and does the hero succeed or fail in the third act's climatic battle.
As a script analyst for CAA, DreamWorks, and Fox, I've encountered hundreds of scripts with the same problem: the hero either doesn't have a clear character arc or the character arc is tangential to the climactic scene. (Writers often select an arc they can connect to the romantic subplot therefore they most often choose to have the hero move from fear of intimacy to embracing intimacy even when it's irrelevant to the thematic spine of the story.)
Though these scripts felt wonky, I was unable to diagnosis the above problem until after I'd read Marks's superlative book. Marks presents a simple test to determine if a character has a compelling arc - if the character could have engaged in the climactic battle at the beginning of the script, then the character hasn't grown or been transformed by the story's journey. In her lexicon, the character has only had a "really, really bad day at the office." This, of course, is enough if the external action is iconic and engaging (Apollo 13 - her personal whipping boy --, Predator) But the fact that one can craft marketable stories that don't display character transformation doesn't mean one ought to. If one does, it seems to me, it should be a conscious aesthetic decision - not technical laxity.
After reading Marks's book, one will understand how to do something remarkable - create a character that changes in front of the reader's/viewer's eyes. With this power, the writer can then decide whether a given work requires a character that transforms or would be better suited for a static character(Marks herself gives two instances where static characters are preferable -- Groundhog Day and Forrest Gump).
Marks argues each of us tend to hold onto calcified ways of being (our fatal flaw) until we decide to embrace change, moving toward the borderland - "a place where new consciousness is beginning to dawn, the place where we emerge from darkness into light." More than her insights on craft, Marks's book provides a lens through which we can view our own need/inability to change, for our characters face the same problem we face as writers and human beings.
I read the following with tears in my eyes: "If we chose to rise to the challenge, then we will inevitably engage a new part of our inner being in the struggle. As a result we expand and grow toward the fullness of our true nature. However, if we run from or avoid the challenge, we will remain stuck at the same level of existence - doomed to continually re-engage the same challenges until we finally rise above them or are destroyed by them all together."
Having shown the importance of character transformation, Marks goes on to connect character flaw to thematic resonance. In the same way writers lacked a method for depicting character transformation before Marks, they also lacked a method for embodying themes in story. Thankfully, Marks provides a method (I know methods aren't sexy, but when intuition and luck fail, a method is exactly what one needs!) that connects her insights on transformation and character flaws to illustrate how writers can make their themes "material, visible, and discernible."
In short, Marks provides a breathtakingly practical approach to some of the thorniest elements of storytelling- elements that before her seemed beyond formal analysis and resistant to practical solutions. Like Aristotle's Poetics, McKee's Story, Truby's Anatomy of Story, Freeman's Creating Emotion in Games, Marks's Inside Story is indispensable.
If there is a first and last book to read about writing a story, this is it. EVERYTHING else is filler, compared to this (no disrespect to other highly renowned authors, lol).
If you want to make your readers and/or viewers CARE about your character, their journey, your STORY, read this book.
Then read it a few more times. You'll be glad you did.
While reading the book I sold my first feature script entitled "Of Boys & Men". The movie starring Angela Bassett, Robert Townsend, Victoria Rowell and Faison Love is being filmed in Chicago this month. The re-write process was arduous to say the least but once I began applying Dara's thematic structure to it, the story went from good to great. Needless to say, everyone loved the revised script including Executive Producer and Star Robert Townsend who told me he is singing my praises. My writing career is officially launched!
I have now created a method, my method, to be used EVERY time I develop a new story using Inside Story techniques and am actually revisiting all my completed works to improve them as well. Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc changed my life and my writing in the process. Thank you Ms. Marks!