Danny's Reviews > The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller

The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
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's review
Sep 12, 09

Read in July, 2009

I actually stumbled upon The Anatomy of Story more or less totally by accident while I was searching for online writer's resources. I was sure someone somewhere must have at some point sat down and picked apart great stories, broke them down to their constituent components, and analyzed what elements worked in which plots, and why. I didn't find much. It dawned on me while I was trying to come up with more refined search terms that what I was looking for was the fundamental anatomy of the stories. So into Google it went, and, low and behold, someone had done just that, and his name was John Truby.

So, The Anatomy of Story isn't exactly the definitive bible for fiction writers, but it's pretty close. What it is, is dead helpful for learning how to construct a viable, solid story, and knowing the shape of things before you ever start actually writing it. And really, that's only a bit of what Truby covers in this book. He also covers scene construction, effective dialog, character building and interplay, genre, and more. It's incredibly dense compared to other books I've read on plot construction and scene writing. Where in many of those other books you may only find a couple of gems scattered across each chapter, I found The Anatomy of Story to be packed wall to wall with helpful and useful information. Truby could have easily stretched the subject of each chapter into an entire book of its own.

My only real dislikes about this book were that I felt some of the examples he uses to illustrate his subject matter could have clearer, and the overall structure of the book seemed a little disjointed, like each element could have fit together more smoothly than it did. But, that said, it's definitely a must-read for any beginning fiction writer, and even for people who just want to become more effective readers, this book would be immensely helpful in that regard as well. The principles Truby lays out are not only present and visible to me, but obvious and unmistakable in every novel, movie, short story, and television show I've seen since I've read this book.

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