Thursday, 26 August 2010

Truby's 22 Steps

In my constant quest to figure out what the hell I'm doing at this writing lark I've been reading yet another screenwriting tome. John Truby's Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller is a very interesting book. He takes apart the traditional three act structure and in its place gives you 7 essential steps around which to build your story. Further to that, he details the eponymous 22 steps, not all of which have to be included, but the fact that he mentions them gives you food for thought.

I'm reading this book with mixed feelings. There are lots of Eureka moments where I can see what is wrong with my WIP, but also those sinking feelings when you realise you need to go back to the start and rework the characters and the premise at the most basic level. It's great and I'm loving it. Because if it means a lot of hard work it's probably improving the story as well as teaching me things I didn't already know.

He has an excellent website which promotes his software and add-ons to the book, but if you sign up to his mailing list you get a free Secrets of Genre booklet. You all know how I love my freebies!

I downloaded the Blockbuster demo yesterday for a free 15 day trial, but it looks complicated and the book covers all you really need to know so I don't know whether it's worth the expense.


Kate said...

I know reading these books can help to give us ideas, but I often wonder if trying to follow 'steps' doesn't restrict our writing rather than help it. It's like those rules you wrote about in your last post. Yes, it's good to know what doesn't work, but sometimes doing what just feels right actually makes for a fresh story.
Just my tuppence worth. :D

Sandra Patterson said...

Hi Kate. Yes, I couldn't agree more and I'm always wary of any 'formula' that claims to write the story for you. 'Steps' is a bit misleading - I see them as 22 questions to ask about your story to test its viability. They don't all have to be present in every story but it does make you think and explore options.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, it's worth a look at the software just to get a better visual picture of what Truby means by the "22 steps". However, as I recall, the software (BB6) doesn't really work with anything other than Final Draft (and I think that was somewhat limited), so as a novelist I didn't find it that useful. FWIW, his 3-day class offers insights not found in the book.