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The Anatomy of Story: How John Truby Teaches You to Master the Art of Storytelling in 22 Steps



The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller - A Book Review


Introduction


Do you want to write a story that captivates your audience, whether it's a novel, a screenplay, or a TV show? Do you want to learn the secrets of storytelling from one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry? Do you want to master the craft of creating a compelling and multifaceted narrative that expresses your vision and values?




The Anatomy Of Story 22 Steps To Becoming A Master Storyteller 19.pdf


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If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should read The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby. This is a book that shares all of his secrets for writing a compelling script for film, TV, or novels. Based on the lessons in his award-winning class, Great Screenwriting, The Anatomy of Story draws on a broad range of philosophy and mythology, offering fresh techniques and insightful anecdotes alongside Truby's own unique approach to building an effective, multifaceted narrative.In this book review, I'll give you an overview of the main points of the book, and show you how you can apply them to your own writing. I'll also provide some examples of how the book's concepts work in different genres and stories. By the end of this review, you'll have a better understanding of what makes a great story, and how to create one yourself. The Premise


The premise is the foundation of your story. It's the one-sentence summary of what your story is about, and why it matters. It's the hook that grabs your reader's attention and makes them want to know more. It's also the guide that helps you structure your story and make sure it delivers on its promise.How do you create a good premise? Truby suggests that you start with four elements: a hero, a goal, an opponent, and a disaster. These are the basic ingredients of any story, and they help you define the main conflict and stakes of your story. For example, here's a premise for The Hunger Games: A teenage girl volunteers to take her sister's place in a televised fight to the death against other children from oppressed districts.But that's not enough. A good premise also needs to have originality and plausibility. Originality means that your premise has something new and fresh that sets it apart from other stories in the same genre or category. Plausibility means that your premise has some logic and credibility that makes it believable and relatable to your audience. For example, here's a premise for The Matrix: A hacker discovers that his world is a simulated reality controlled by machines, and joins a rebel group to fight them.To test your premise, Truby suggests that you ask yourself these questions: Does it have irony? Does it have inherent conflict? Does it have audience identification? Does it have a twist? If you can answer yes to most or all of these questions, then you have a strong premise that will hook your reader and keep them engaged. Article with HTML formatting --- --- Plan is how your hero tries to achieve their desire. It's the strategy and tactics that your hero uses to overcome their opponent and obstacles. Your hero's plan should be logical, creative, and adaptable. It should also reveal your hero's character and values. For example, in Finding Nemo, Marlin's plan is to follow the clues and directions that he gets from various characters along the way, such as Dory, Crush, Nigel, etc.Battle is the final confrontation between your hero and their opponent. It's the climax of your story, where everything is at stake and everything is resolved. Your battle should be intense, suspenseful, and surprising. It should also test your hero's physical, mental, and moral strength. For example, in Finding Nemo, the battle is when Marlin and Dory try to rescue Nemo from Darla's hands, while Nemo tries to escape from the fish tank.Self-revelation is what your hero learns or realizes about themselves or the world as a result of the battle. It's the emotional payoff of your story, where your hero changes and grows. Your self-revelation should be unexpected, meaningful, and cathartic. It should also show how your hero overcomes their weakness and fulfills their need. For example, in Finding Nemo, the self-revelation is when Marlin learns to trust Nemo and let him go.New equilibrium is the new situation or status quo that your hero finds themselves in after the self-revelation. It's the resolution of your story, where you show how your hero's life has changed for better or worse. Your new equilibrium should be satisfying, realistic, and consistent. It should also show how your hero's desire has been achieved or not. For example, in Finding Nemo, the new equilibrium is when Marlin and Nemo are reunited and live happily in the ocean.These seven key steps of story structure can be applied to any genre or medium of storytelling. They can also be expanded or contracted depending on the length and complexity of your story. For example, here's a table that shows how these steps work in different genres:GenreWeakness and NeedDesireOpponentPlanBattleSelf-RevelationNew EquilibriumActionA physical or psychological flaw that makes the hero vulnerable.A life-or-death goal that involves saving someone or something.A powerful and ruthless enemy that threatens the hero and the world.A risky and daring strategy that involves physical skills and weapons.A violent and explosive fight that involves chases, explosions, and stunts.A moral or emotional insight that makes the hero stronger or wiser.A safer and happier situation that rewards the hero and the world.RomanceA personal or social flaw that makes the hero lonely or unhappy.A romantic goal that involves finding love or happiness.A rival or obstacle that prevents the hero from getting their love interest.A charming and clever strategy that involves flirting, seducing, and wooing.A passionate and emotional fight that involves jealousy, betrayal, and rejection.A romantic or personal insight that makes the hero more loving or happy.A more fulfilling and satisfying situation that unites the hero and their love interest.MysteryAn intellectual or ethical flaw that makes the hero curious or guilty.An investigative goal that involves solving a crime or a puzzle.A cunning and secretive enemy that hides clues and evidence.A logical and meticulous strategy that involves collecting, analyzing, and deducing.A tense and surprising fight that involves traps, twists, and reveals.An analytical or moral insight that makes the hero smarter or more righteous.A more clear and orderly situation that restores justice and truth. The Character


The character is the heart of your story. It's who your reader cares about and follows throughout your story. It's also who drives your story forward and makes it meaningful. To create a complex and dynamic character, you need to consider four aspects of character: the character's structure, the character's psychology, the character's morality, and the character's sociology.The character's structure is the basic framework of your character. It includes the character's name, role, function, and arc. The name is how your character is identified and remembered. The role is what your character does in the story, such as the protagonist, the antagonist, the ally, etc. The function is how your character affects the story, such as creating conflict, providing information, adding humor, etc. The arc is how your character changes and grows throughout the story, such as from coward to hero, from selfish to generous, from naive to wise, etc.The character's psychology is the inner workings of your character. It includes the character's weakness, need, desire, ghost, and values. The weakness is the flaw or problem that your character has at the beginning of the story. The need is the deeper issue or lack that your character must overcome or fulfill by the end of the story. The desire is the external goal that your character pursues in the story. The ghost is the traumatic event or memory that haunts your character and explains their weakness and need. The values are the beliefs or principles that guide your character's actions and decisions.The character's morality is the ethical dimension of your character. It includes the character's moral problem, moral argument, and moral choice. The moral problem is the dilemma or conflict that your character faces in the story. It usually involves choosing between two or more options that have different moral implications. The moral argument is the debate or discussion that your character has with other characters or with themselves about the moral problem. It usually involves presenting different points of view or perspectives on the issue. The moral choice is the decision or action that your character takes in response to the moral problem. It usually involves showing the consequences or outcomes of their choice.The character's sociology is the social context of your character. It includes the character's background, status, relationships, and environment. The background is where your character comes from and what shaped their personality and worldview. The status is where your character stands in relation to other characters and society in terms of power, wealth, influence, etc. The relationships are who your character interacts with and how they affect each other emotionally, mentally, and morally. The environment is where your character lives and works and how it influences their behavior and mood.To create a complex and dynamic character, you need to use all four aspects of character in a coherent and consistent way. You also need to create a character web, which is a network of characters that are connected by their roles, functions, values, and relationships. A character web helps you create contrast and conflict among your characters, as well as reveal their different facets and dimensions. The Moral Problem


The moral problem is one of the most important elements of your story. It's what gives your story depth and meaning. It's also what makes your story relevant and resonant for your audience. A moral problem is a dilemma or conflict that your hero faces in the story that involves choosing between two or more options that have different moral implications.A moral problem can be external or internal. An external moral problem is when your hero has to choose between two or more actions that affect other people or society in different ways. For example, in Schindler's List, Oskar Schindler has to choose between saving Jews from Nazi persecution or profiting from their labor. An internal moral problem is when your hero has to choose between two or more values that affect themselves in different ways. For example, in Breaking Bad, Walter White has to choose between being a good father and husband or being a successful drug lord.A moral problem can also be personal or universal. A personal moral problem is when your hero has to choose between two or more options that are specific to their situation or circumstance. For example, in The Godfather, Michael Corleone has to choose between staying out of his family's criminal business or taking over as the new boss. A universal moral problem is when your hero has to choose between two or more options that are common to all human beings or societies. For example, in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins has to choose between destroying the Ring of Power or succumbing to its temptation.To create a good moral problem for your hero, you need to make sure that it meets these criteria: It should be clear and compelling; it should be difficult and complex; it should be central and consistent; it should be personal and universal; it should be original and plausible; it should be relevant and resonant. Article with HTML formatting --- --- The story world is the setting of your story. It's where and when your story takes place, and how it affects your story. The story world includes the physical, historical, cultural, and emotional aspects of your setting. It also includes the genre, tone, and style of your story.The story world is not just a backdrop or a decoration for your story. It's an integral part of your story that supports and enhances your premise, theme, and mood. It also influences and reflects your character, plot, and dialogue. To create a good story world, you need to consider these factors: It should be specific and vivid; it should be relevant and consistent; it should be original and plausible; it should be dynamic and evolving.A specific and vivid story world is one that uses sensory details and descriptions to create a rich and immersive experience for your reader. It helps your reader imagine and feel what it's like to be in your story. For example, in Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling creates a specific and vivid story world by using details such as the Hogwarts castle, the Diagon Alley shops, the Quidditch game, etc.A relevant and consistent story world is one that relates to and supports your premise, theme, and mood. It helps your reader understand and appreciate what your story is about and why it matters. For example, in The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins creates a relevant and consistent story world by using the dystopian setting of Panem, where the Capitol oppresses the districts and forces them to participate in the deadly Hunger Games.An original and plausible story world is one that has something new and fresh that sets it apart from other stories in the same genre or category. It helps your reader get hooked and intrigued by your story. For example, in The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien creates an original and plausible story world by using the fantasy setting of Middle-earth, where different races of beings coexist and fight against the evil Sauron.A dynamic and evolving story world is one that changes and grows along with your character and plot. It helps your reader follow and engage with your story. For example, in The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis creates a dynamic and evolving story world by using the magical setting of Narnia, where different seasons and events affect the land and its inhabitants. Article with HTML formatting --- --- George Orwell uses an original and plausible symbol web by using symbols such as the animals, the farm, the windmill, etc.A dynamic and evolving symbol web is one that changes and grows along with your character and plot. It helps your reader follow and engage with your meaning on a narrative level. For example, in The Lord of the Flies, William Golding uses a dynamic and evolving symbol web by using symbols such as the conch, the fire, the beast, etc. The Plot


The plot is the sequence of events that happens in your story. It's what your reader follows and anticipates throughout your story. It's also what makes your story exciting and satisfying. To create a good plot, you need to consider these factors: It should be surprising and inevitable; it should be causal and logical; it should be progressive and climactic; it should be thematic and moral.A surprising and inevitable plot is one that uses twists and turns that catch your reader off guard but also make sense in hindsight. It helps your reader stay interested and curious about your story. For example, in The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan uses a surprising and inevitable plot by using the twist that Bruce Willis' character is actually dead.A causal and logical plot is one that uses events that are connected by cause and effect rather than by coincidence or randomness. It helps your reader understand and believe your story. For example, in The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris uses a causal and logical plot by using events that are driven by the actions and decisions of Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter.A progressive and climactic plot is one that uses events that increase in intensity and importance as the story progresses. It helps your reader feel the tension and emotion of your story. For example, in The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown uses a progressive and climactic plot by using events that involve more danger and mystery as Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu get closer to the truth.A thematic and moral plot is one that uses events that illustrate and explore your theme and moral problem. It helps your reader appreciate the meaning and message of your story. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses a thematic and moral plot by using events that show the racism and injustice in Maycomb County.To create a good plot, you need to use various plot techniques that help you create surprise, suspense, dilemma, revelation, etc. Some of these techniques are: foreshadowing, flashback, parallelism, contrast, reversal, etc. You also need to use different types of scenes that help you move your plot forward and show different aspects of your story. Some of these scenes are: exposition, action, dialogue, description, etc. Article with HTML formatting --- --- Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola use a clear and varied scene weave by using transitions such as fades, dissolves, cuts, etc., and by using different scenes such as the wedding, the assassination, the hospital, the funeral, etc.A relevant and consistent scene weave is one that relates to and supports your character, plot, theme, mood etc. It helps your reader connect and resonate with your story on different levels. For example, in The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris and Jonathan Demme use a relevant and consistent scene weave by using scenes that show the psychological and moral aspects of Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter's relationship.An original and plausible scene weave is one that has something new and fresh that sets it apart from other stories in the same genre or category. It helps your reader get surprised and intrigued by your story on an intellectual level. For example, in Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino uses an original and plausible scene weave by using scenes that are out of chronological order but still make sense in the end.A dynamic and evolving scene weave is one that changes and grows along with your character and plot. It helps your reader follow and engage with your story on a narrative level. For example, in The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson use a dynamic and evolving scene weave by using scenes that show the different journeys and challenges of Frodo, Aragorn, Gandalf, etc.To create a good scene weave, you need to use various scene techniques that help you create contrast and connection among your scenes. Some of these techniques are: intercutting, parallelism, contrast, repetition, etc. You also need to use different types of scenes that help you move your plot forward and show different aspects of your story. Some of these scenes are: exposition, action, dialogue, description, etc. Article with HTML formatting --- --- J.D. Salinger writes a natural and distinctive dialogue for Holden Caulfield when he says: "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield k


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