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Story Structure Basics: How to write better books by learning from the movies (Screenwriting Tricks For Authors (and Screenwriters!) Book 1) by [Sokoloff, Alexandra]
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Story Structure Basics: How to write better books by learning from the movies (Screenwriting Tricks For Authors (and Screenwriters!) Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Length: 358 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Page Flip: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sokoloff's advice is spot-on, and her teaching style is direct and effective. A must-have book for authors and screenwriters."
--- JA Konrath, bestselling author of  A Newbie's Guide To Publishing

"Sokoloff is a generous mentor with the gifted ability to address a storyteller's practical concerns while encouraging artistic integrity and every author's unique voice.  Only three of my half dozen novels have been written with her unwitting guidance, but I can guarantee that with this book at my fingertips, all my future work- and my reading audience - will benefit from her advice. Recommended without reservation. "  
--- Vicki Pettersson, bestselling author of the Sign of the Zodiac series


"I loved this book! Alexandra Sokoloff breaks down the screenwriting process in easy-to-understand steps with examples from current movies and the BEST practical examples. Her unique and always lots of fun lessons are empowering for first-time writers as well as those with finished screenplays looking to take their project to the next level. Indispensable."
--- George LaVoo, co-writer Real Women Have Curves, writer/director A Dog Year

From the Inside Flap

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

PART ONE: STORY STRUCTURE

1. The Master List
2. What's Your Premise?
3. What is "High Concept"?
4. The Three-Act, Eight-Sequence Structure
5. The Index Card Method and Story Elements Checklist
6. Elements of Act I
7. Hero/ine, Protagonist, Main Character
8. Protagonist Case Study: Jake Gittes
9. What Makes a Great Villain?
10. Villains, Part 2: The Forces of Antagonism
11. Elements of Act Two
12. Elements of Act Two, Part 2
13. Elements of Act Three
14. What Makes a Great Climax?
15. Visual Storytelling
16. Creating Suspense
17. Plants and Payoffs
18. The Big Twist
19. Character Introductions
20. Fairy Tale Structure
21. Meta Structure
22. Your First Draft is Always Going to Suck
23. Top Ten Things I Know About Editing
24. Life is a Pitch Meeting

PART TWO: STORY BREAKDOWNS

25. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
26. Romancing the Stone
27. Chinatown
28. The Mist
29. Act Climaxes and Turning Points

PART THREE: THE BUSINESS


30. How Do I Get a Literary Agent?
31. Internet Resources for Writers
32. So You Want to Know About Screenwriting
33. Recommended Reading

Figure 1: Story Grid

Product Details

  • File Size: 919 KB
  • Print Length: 358 pages
  • Publication Date: January 1, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0032JSJ9U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,228 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think it was Blake Snyder in his book, Save the Cat, that said writers will do anything to keep from working--from writing--the single activity they love most in the world. He was right, of course, and one of the things writers do to procrastinate is buy books on writing. This is the perfect outlet, as the primary reason we don't want to write is because the editor in our heads keeps telling us we're just not good enough.

Me, yes, I'm a writer, and as such, I am a procrastinator and collector of fine books on writing. Honestly, there is no book on the subject, in print or out, that I do not own.

And just as Blake Snyder said his book was the last book on screen writing anyone would ever need, Sokoloff's Screen-writing Tricks for Authors is the last book on novel writing you'll ever need. She has condensed the best of the best--at least the most relevant to today's audience--into a no-word-wasted just-the-facts-maam book that no serious writer should be without.

If you buy another book on writing without reading this one first, you'll be wasting money.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I've been following Alexandra Sokoloff's advice for years now, hunting down informative gems in blog entries and online posts every time a structural problem arose in one of my WIPs. To say I'm thrilled that she finally compiled (and augmented) that advice in one place is an understatement. Sokoloff is a generous mentor with the gifted ability to address a storyteller's practical concerns while encouraging artistic integrity and every author's unique voice. Only three of my half dozen novels have been written with her unwitting guidance, but I can guarantee that with this book at my fingertips, all my future work - and my reading audience - will benefit from her advice.

As a side note, I generally don't like books with exercises. Everything I write is for use, not play, yet I felt no resistance in performing Sokoloff's suggested exercises because they're relevant and applicable to the story structure of everything I write - shorts, novellas, and full-length fiction. There are no shortcuts to craft, but this book can help authors avoid the structural pitfalls that might otherwise keep a story from being finished, or from selling. Recommended without reservation.
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I've never heard of Alexandra Sokoloff, but I'm just starting Chapter 6 (11% into the book on Kindle) and she has already completely altered my view on how to write a novel. I have at least 5 books that I've started, yet haven't gotten past page 30 before getting stuck and giving up. I've read tons of articles on outlining, but Chapter 5: The Index Card Method has completely altered my view on how it needs to be done and the benefit it will have when writing and completing a novel. I cannot believe this book on the Kindle is only $2.99. If you're a complete amateur like me but know you have a story inside of you the world needs to read, buy this book. I promise you won't regret it.
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Sokoloff covers Story Structure (three acts, eight sequences), Story Breakdowns, and The Business. Her workbook approach is based on developing your own Writer's Notebook, with lists of favorite movies/openings/endings, etc., and why they work for you. I'm not very good at that sort of thing, not patient enough, perhaps, but her suggestions are sound.

As the title suggests, much of the book is based on the analysis of various movies, used to illustrate all aspects of story structure. Most of the examples I have seen, and her descriptions are make even unfamiliar films useful. One of her favorite examples is Chinatown, which I haven't seen in a very long time--I was inspired to track down a copy at Half-Price Books. She includes a sort of viewer's guide for the movies she analyzes in detail, giving the timing for important points.

When I looked up the book for this review, I discovered that Sokoloff has issued a second collection: Writing Love, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II, with the emphasis on romance. I write romance, soI downloaded it immediately. I suspect it covers much the same territory with different examples, but for $2.99, how far wrong can you go?
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Format: Kindle Edition
Sokoloff's book is a valuable addition to any writer's library, whether published or unpublished. Ms. Sokoloff draws upon her years of experience as a successful screenwriter to explain how to structure a novel. Complete with useful exercises. Highly recommended!
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I have written and published my first novel, and I am in the middle of writing my second novel. On a recommendation from a friend who is also a novelist I picked up Mrs. Socoloff's book. It gave me some insights into plot structure that were essential at this particular phase of writing my current novel. It is like having a script editor look over your shoulder as you are writing and tell you that you need to have a climax here, and build your team at this phase and so forth. If you follow her rules to the letter it can come off a bit too formulaic, and she acknowledges this. The point as I take it from her book, is that if you were telling a story, and not following the guidelines here, you run the risk of violating expectations of the reader. The story structure had been used for thousands of years. What Sokoloff has done is give you the basic formula and structure, and it is up to the writer to take that into his or her imagination and turn it into a story that captivates the reader and take them places they never have been before. I would recommend it.
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