If you're ready to graduate from the boy-meets-girl league of screenwriting, meet John Truby. John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry, and his students have gone on to pen some of Hollywood's most successful films, including Sleepless in Seattle , Scream , and Shrek. The Anatomy of Story is his long-awaited first book, and it shares all his secrets for writing a compelling script. 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.
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At a glance, they might seem oversimplified. March 31, — pm. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Need: Both a psychological and a moral need. Ghost and story world Ghost : The history of the character. That which still haunts the character and may cause struggle. Weakness and need Weakness : The flaws in the character.
Usually, characters have both. In other words, the internal damage of the character that impedes them from becoming their best self. Need : The change the character must go through in order to become their best self. This event also challenges the character into action. Desire The goal that drives the character and the story. Ally or allies The best buds. The allies can also have a goal. This relationship is usually the most important one in the story as it provides conflict to the story.
Mystery : The opponent can be a mystery at its roots, therefore giving the protagonist the task of discovering their antagonist, and defeating them.
There is usually heartbreak and deception for the protagonist when the truth is discovered. First revelation and decision: Changed desire and motive A threshold in the story that becomes a point of no return for the protagonist. Usually prompted by new information.
Each revelation adds levels of complexity to the plot. These attacks can and should come at different points in the story and can be both overt or covert in nature.
Drive The way that I think about this is a football drive. Attack by ally The hero of our story is never perfect, otherwise, what would be the point of the story? The attack by an ally is the moment when the protagonist begins to diverge from their moral compass and gets called out by a true ally. This can result in a schism between the protagonist and the ally because no one likes a goody-two-shoes. This attack also gives the story a deeper conflict, where the protagonist must decide whether or not follow a moral path.
Apparent defeat All hope is lost and the protagonist is about to give up in the pursuit of their desire. This is the lowest point in the story and the reader might be uncertain if the protagonist will succumb to the opponent, or rally and succeed. Second revelation and decision: Obsessive drive, changed desire and motive Yay, the protagonist rallied! Perhaps with a changed perspective on their desire or a different goal, the protagonist continues in their pursuit.
Audience revelation At this moment, the audience is privy to crucial information before the protagonist. This gives the audience a clearer picture of the stakes and the power of the opponent. In addition, it also heightens the tension of the story. This information usually emboldens the protagonist and gives them an extra motivation to reach their goal. Gate, gauntlet, visit to death The highest moment of tension before the final showdown between the hero and the opponent. Visit to Death : Can be psychological, and might appear at an earlier moment in the story perhaps in the apparent defeat.
Battle During the battle, the goals of the protagonist and the opponent should be crystal clear. There should be no confusion about what each side is fighting for. The winner of the battle achieves their goal. Self-revelation The moment after the battle where the protagonist comes to a deeper understanding of their self and what they fought for and perhaps won.
The revelation should be meaningful and life-altering. Moral decision The moral decision is the course of action that the protagonist will take once the self-revelation happens. Andrew H Feldman says:. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Luisana Duarte Administrator. Looking for something?
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John Truby’s 22 Plot Building Blocks
Truby goes around the world giving lectures for how to write a great story and the backbone of these lectures is the 22 steps:. All of these 22 steps will not be in every film. Sometimes it suits the film well, other times it may backfire. For example in The Dark Knight Rises, although Batman has a extensive battle with Bane at the end, he does not fight the actual villain, and so it takes the edge off the film slightly. The reason this rarely happens is because of franchises.
Truby’s 22 Steps
I purchased one of his first video writing courses mumblety-mumblety years ago when I was writing comedy and spent a lot of time in L. The overall structure is loosely follows the three-act format. You have to be ready to write the sequel. His analysis and breakdown of various movies is well worth the read, even if you are writing genre or traditional storylines. And he offers classes, workshops, videos and DVDs on particular genres to make the examples specific to the context.