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Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate Paperback – January 12, 2017
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- Item Weight : 9.1 ounces
- Paperback : 170 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0998534471
- ISBN-13 : 978-0998534473
- Publisher : Talking Drum, LLC (January 12, 2017)
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.43 x 9 inches
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #99,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Then, I started reading some of the excerpts he included as examples of great writing.
Umm... ick. I realized it's powerful writing, but it's also sad, tragic, or downright depressing. Maybe all three.
Also, after the second chapter - the "seven easy steps," which are brilliantly described - this book became increasingly less useful to me.
If you love stories that tug at your heartstrings because they're so sad/awful, or can overlook those kinds of emotionally charged triggers, this book may be a cover-to-cover gem. (I reached the point where the diminishing returns, in terms of advice, made the "ick" factor not worth wading through.)
But, if your public library carries this - or you can pick up a copy at a low price - McDonald's "seven steps" are succinctly described and a great template for stories... even if you have every other plotting framework (hero's journey, three-act story, etc.) known to man.
Invisible ink goes into great detail about the aspects of story telling that usually isn't apparent, the parts that are planned and guide and build the story without necessarily actually being a part of the story. Sub text and so on. While it might be apparent from the get go what makes this useful for a writer, it might not be so apparent what makes this useful for a reader. The truth is that this is maybe the best tool for getting enjoyment out of reading I've ever read. This book has some very simple concepts that will be relayed to you in a simple manner which does not presume you have any background in writing at all. Anyone will be able to follow and understand the concepts and the way the book builds on those concepts to deliver more makes it all the more accessible. If you enjoy stories, movies, books, comics.. You should read this book because you'll get way more out of them after reading this book than you did before.
One of the main concepts of this book is that stories should have a simple theme and follow them. This book is itself non-fiction, and yet it even follows that concept. The theme of having a theme is the glue that basically puts every concept together. The book will keep revisiting this theme itself and and further cement why it is important. Additionally in doing so the subject matter is easier for the reader to retain (I took notes while reading and plan to read again, but you by no means have to go through such lengths). If you've ever read a book, or watched a show and thought something was especially well done or bothered you, but couldn't quite put your finger on why, this book makes it clear.
As far as flow this book though non fiction really feels like a page turner. Through use of example and relating it back to stories you're familiar with, the lessons flow from the pages not like a lecture, but rather like you are actually watching an entertaining movie itself. Never a time did I find the material dry or especially difficult to trudge through. Finishing this book is something you could do quickly or savor it and re-reading potential, in order to retain more is quite high.
I do have one complaint and the author knew this would happen as he addresses it in the book. There is a time when he uses a gender tag for a concept that I personally wonder if it was a necessary way to describe the concept. He insists it is and spends a bit of time defending it in his work, but it felt a tiny bit like a distraction to me. I know some readers have found that section to be too much and stopped reading, but I personally think they missed out. It's a minuscule nitpick and for such an accomplished writer whose book is so extraordinary, I think we should forgive that section even if we don't entirely agree with it. I personally thought the content was spot on, just the labeling bothered me a tad. Small price to pay for this masterpiece book and I for one defer to the author's wisdom.
So in conclusion, who is this book for? Everyone. There is no one who could not benefit from the knowledge contained and it even reads a little like a fun little fiction. If you don't read this book you are seriously missing out.
And I found it was MORE than useful. It's practically my Bible now.
If you don't know how to write stories, read this book. If you THINK you know how to write stories, read this book.
"Invisible Ink" talks about the essentials of storytelling and that's it. There's no extra fluff like in other books. This book will help you solve many sticky issues about writing in the simplest manner. Problems from how to structure a plot to how to handle your characters to what you should make the story about.
I HEAVILY recommend this to anyone who wants to make a career with stories: whether it's comics, writing, screenplays, or whatever. This book is most likely the only book you'll need.
So, If you already have your structure, this won't help much but there are some little things that are interesting (such as character clones) which may make you see things in a slightly different way. If you have an idea and need it fleshed out more, it's a pretty decent and inexpensive book to help you out with that. Well worth the $5 in my eyes.
Top reviews from other countries
Were the book written in the dry and dusty format of educational books, I doubt this would have been so useful to me. McDonald has a very engaging 'voice', and the way he eagerly points out examples in films, books, plays and real life, shows a passion that quickly becomes contagious. It becomes easy reading, and very enjoyable.
The greatest thing of all, though, is that this is a book for writing stories. Not novels, or TV scripts, or stage plays. It goes back to the core of all these types of entertainment - telling a good tale - and as such it almost transcends genre. For myself, I've recently used it to help write a short graphic novel and to bring life back into my short stories, and I think this ability to go across genres and platforms makes this book invaluable.
Brian McDonald has a hugely engaging writing style; he delivers salient information in an entertaining manner, and without trying to sound either pretentious, or show off his extensive and impressive knowledge. Brian McDonald educates without being dry for tedious by telling you what you need to know and then moving on; making the book a joy to read, and you will probably devour its 153 pages of information very quickly. All the fat has been trimmed; there is no filler here.
Invisible ink uses real films to illustrate the points it needs to make in a very accessible and enthusiastic manner; you can feel McDonald's love for the films as he discusses them. It will enable you to analyse and understand theme, plot and characters.
The book covers how to structure a story, theme beating logic, putting l your character through hell, ensuring truth in your story, making things sound natural, how to avoid common pitfalls in storytelling and a myriad of other subjects that are all integral to good storytelling.
To summarise, invisible ink is an essential guidebook that clearly and effortlessly teaches you how to tell stories in an entertaining manner, no matter what medium you're creating in. Thoroughly Recommended.