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The Anatomy of Story

22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller

John Truby

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Anatomy of Story Download image

ISBN10: 0865479933
ISBN13: 9780865479937

Trade Paperback

464 Pages



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John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry. His students have gone on to pen some of Hollywood's most successful films, including Sleepless in Seattle, Scream, and Shrek. His first book, The Anatomy of Story is about the process of 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 and offers techniques and anecdotes alongside Truby's own approach to developing an effective, multifaceted narrative.

Truby's method for constructing a story is at once insightful and practical, focusing on the hero's moral and emotional growth. As a result, writers will explore their own values and worldviews in order to create an effective story. Truby provides a precise set of tools—specific, useful techniques to make the audience care about their characters, and that make their characters grow in meaningful ways. Writers will learn to construct a surprising plot that is unique to their particular concept, and they will learn how to express a moral vision that can genuinely move an audience.

The foundations of story that Truby lays out are applicable to all writers, from novelists and short-story writers to journalists, memoirists, and writers of narrative non-fiction.


Praise for The Anatomy of Story

"If you're ready to graduate from the boy-meets-girl league of screenwriting, meet John Truby . . . [His lessons draw] epiphanies that make you see the contours of your psyche as sharply as your script."—LA Weekly

"A veritable bible for screenwriters."—Backstage

"The Anatomy Of Story is concrete and practical without resorting to simplistic 'Three Act Structure' screenwriting clichés. It will be an indispensable guide to writing your first great script. Then, the perfect survival manual to help you negotiate the often confusing, contradictory and cutthroat world of professional screenwriting."—Larry Wilson, co-writer and co-producer of Beetlejuice and co-writer of The Addams Family

"Hollywood story consultant Truby commits his vast knowledge of screenwriting and storytelling to the page in this handy guide for aspiring writers of all types. Truby delves into the setup, from basic structure to the premise and the depth behind it. From there, he moves into character, emphasizing the importance of not only the hero but also the characters in the story who aid and oppose him. Truby illustrates the importance of setting to the story and how careful plotting is needed to weave the elements of the story together. He cautions that plot is not incidental and requires careful management and timely revelations. Although most of his examples are from movies, such as Tootsie, The Godfather, and Star Wars, Truby also draws from novels and plays, and his advice is applicable not only to the hopeful screenwriter but to the aspiring novelist as well. A comprehensive guide to writing stories of all kinds, Truby's tome is invaluable to any writer looking to put an idea to paper."—Kristine Huntley, Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

The Anatomy of Story

Story Space, Story Time
EVERYONE CAN TELL a story. We do it every day. "You won't believe what happened at work." Or "Guess what I just did!" Or "A guy goes into a bar ..."...

About the author

John Truby

John Truby is the founder and director of Truby’s Writers Studio. Over the past thirty years, he has taught more than fifty thousand students worldwide, including novelists, screenwriters, and TV writers. Together, these writers have generated more than fifteen billion dollars at the box office.

Truby has an ongoing program where he works with students who are actively creating shows, movies, and novel series. He regularly applies his genre techniques in story consulting work with major studios including Disney, Sony Pictures, Fox, HBO, the BBC, Canal Plus, Globo, and AMC. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Leslie, and their two cats, Tink and Peanut.

Russell Baer

John Truby

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