The truth is, thanks to a book called The Anatomy of Story, by a script-guru named John Truby, I actually do know a lot more what the next book is shaped like than I did only two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, this idea was a jumble of notes and rejected pages, a pile of characters and a daunting list of research. What I do remember is that the day we bought my copy of Truby, which, as you can see, has been well-loved, I was feeling totally stuck. I had a new idea for a novel but no plan about how to execute it.
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Or so I thought. Big mistake! Note: I was going to post the third and final part of my "Narrative Setting" series today. I will post that on Wednesday instead. Truby writes that if the story you tell is a good story, two things will happen: 1. In other words, a good story makes the reader identify with the protagonist. But, more than this, the reader will ideally be so caught up in the story they will experience her emotions, they will feel her both her happiness and her pain.
This is what happens when we cry at the end of a sad story. Truby writes that: "[ These moments are so charged that the listener feels he is living them himself. It gives them the experience of that life. Truby writes: "The storyteller is first and foremost someone who plays. Stories are verbal games the author plays with the audience.
The author creates this puzzle in two major ways: he tells the audience certain information about a made-up character and he withholds certain information. Often there are several exclamation marks. But why? It forces the audience to figure out who the character is and what he is doing and so draws the audience into the story. Feeling: Character Identification Members of the audience--the audience as a whole--must feel as though this is the goal they have lived through the events of the story with the protagonist.
This is part of character identification. Truby holds that three things must happen for an audience to identify with a character. The audience must: a. Understand the forces that led the protagonist to do what he does. Understand the choices that led the protagonist to do what he does. Understand the emotions that led the protagonist to do what he does.
Thinking: A verbal game or puzzle We need to give the audience enough information about a character to identify with them, but withhold enough so that they are still curious, so that they want more. Figure out who the character is. Figure out what he is doing. Change: The heart of story Change lies at the heart of every story.
What causes change? What inspires it? What drives it? Truby writes: " Whenever he learns new information, he makes a decision and changes his course of action. And that struggle makes him change. This is what everything so far has let up to, all the character identification, all the verbal puzzles. Truby writes: "The focal point [of a story] is the moment of change, the impact, when a person breaks free of habits and weaknesses and ghosts from his past and transforms to a richer and fuller self.
That is, I agree with him to a point. I think it depends on the kind of story one wishes to write. At least, not that I could tell. That movie was just about being a terrific action tale and, of course, answering the question: What will happen if they open the ark?
Truby focuses on internal change--and so he should. Some, like Indy in Raiders, only have an external one. Good writing!
The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
It will be an indispensable guide to writing your first great script. The Anatomy of Story is a step-by-step guide to constructing the best story possible—be it a screenplay, short story, or novel. Truby, who has taught his twenty-two-step Great Screenwriting and Genre classes to more than 20, students worldwide, is available to discuss: Top 10 mistakes writers make about story. Five best and worst questions about screenwriting.
The Anatomy of Story Quotes