Books,  writers,  writing life

What Makes A Story

On my current reading list is a Christmas gift that was given to me by one of my critique partners. As a matter of fact she gave a copy to each of us in our small group with the comment of something like, “this book is making me miserable so I thought you all had to have it too!” Sweet. This is why I love my critique partners and wouldn’t trade them for anything. She did back it up with, “don’t get me wrong, it’s making me miserable in a really good way.”

The book in question is The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby.

Here is a blurb: “If you’re ready to graduate from the boy-meets-girl league of screenwriting, meet John Truby . . . [his lessons inspire] epiphanies that make you see the contours of your psyche as sharply as your script.”—LA Weekly. 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.

Now, I’m just beginning the book and am only up to step three. I’m horrible at finishing writing books. It’s a strange block with me or maybe they are just hard to get through. The only one I did do start to finish was Stephen King’s On Writing. He even made a writing book interesting. Go figure.

But so far this book has me with its talk about The Dramatic Code which says: character change is fueled by desire. Truby steps away from the classic 3 act structure of most stories. He promises you’ll enjoy the creation process as you follow his 22 step program then in the very next chapter on premise he challenges you to: Write something that may change your life! Gulp. Sure I’ll get right on that. And then he gives this little tidbit: 9 out of 10 writers fail at premise. Yeah, it’s a real upper. Tons of enjoyment there.

But I’m up for the challenge. I just adore my friends. Misery, company and all that.

So tell me, what makes a story good for you? Can you pin it down? Is it a feeling? The Characters? The flow? The tension? The suspense? Please share or give examples of your favorite stories, either books or movies. Don’t be shy now.


P.S. – Scroll down for Top Chef talk. Warning spoilers ahead.