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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (3 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141978104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141978109
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Brimmingly insightful ... fresh, enlightening and accessible ... a gripping read from beginning to end (Robert Collins Sunday Times)

Terrifyingly clever ... Packed with intelligent argument (Evening Standard)

So detailed and engaging is his methodology that any consumer of books, plays, TV or films will find the experience enhanced; and scriptwriters themselves will find useful guidance - because when you know the why, the how is natural (Robert Epstein Independent on Sunday)

This is a marvellous analysis of screenwriting and, with any luck, should help a great many people achieve their dreams (Julian Fellowes, writer/creator of Downton Abbey)

Another book on screenwriting! Oh, how I wanted to hate it! I didn't. I loved it. Much of it was fresh to me. And always interesting, always intelligent and, for a writer, always rewarding (Jimmy McGovern, screenwriter, The Street and The Accused)

In an industry full of so called script gurus and snake oil salesmen, at last there's a book about story that treats writers like grown ups. This isn't about providing us with an ABC of story or telling us how to write a script by numbers. It's an intelligent evaluation into the very nature of storytelling and is the best book on the subject I've read. Quite brilliant (Tony Jordan, screenwriter, Life on Mars and Hustle)

Even for a convinced sceptic, John Yorke's book, with its massive field of reference from Aristotle to Glee, and from Shakespeare to Spooks, is a highly persuasive and hugely enjoyable read. It would be hard to beat for information and wisdom about how and why stories are told (Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director, The Globe Theatre)

This book is intelligent, well written, incisive and, most of all, exciting. It is the most important book about scriptwriting since William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade (Peter Bowker, screenwriter, Blackpool, Occupation and Eric & Ernie)

Part 'How-to' manual, part 'why-to' celebration, Into The Woods is a wide-reaching and infectiously passionate exploration of storytelling in all its guises ... exciting and thought-provoking (Emma Frost, screenwriter, The White Queen and Shameless)

Into The Woods is an amazing achievement. It has a real depth and understanding about story, a fantastically broad frame of reference and it's interesting and absorbing throughout. Full of incredibly useful insights, every TV writer should read the first chapter alone (Simon Ashdown, series consultant, EastEnders)

Testing the adage that "in theory there's no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is", this is a love story to story -- erudite, witty and full of practical magic. It's by far the best book of its kind I've ever read. I struggle to think of the writer who wouldn't benefit from reading it -- even if they don't notice because they're too busy enjoying every page (Neil Cross, creator/writer of Luther, Crossbones and writer of Dr Who, MI5)

Books on story structure are ten a penny but Mistah Yorke's is the real deal (Kathryn Flett)

All script-writers will want to read Into The Woods. All plots and archetypes BUSTED (Caitlin Moran)

Got to say Into The Woods by John Yorke is marvellous. The prospect of another screenwriting book made me yawn, but its terrific ... It's a great read, wise and cogent, and a must for all screenwriters (David Eldridge)

A mind-blower ... an incredibly dense but very readable tome about the art of storytelling ... Really worth a read (Lenny Henry The Independent)

I don't always enjoy books on writing, but Into the Woods by John Yorke is brilliant on story structure. (Ken Follett, author of 'The Pillars of the Earth')

In his brimmingly insightful, stimulating study of how stories work, Yorke compellingly unpicks how a whole range of films, plays, novels and fairy tales all display the same archetypal structures . . . His book, in telling scores of stories in such a fresh, enlightening and accessible manner, is a gripping read from beginning to end (Sunday Times)

The best book on the subject [of storytelling] I've read, tells us everything we need to know about it. Yorke's analysis is superb (London Evening Standard)

A mightily impressive opus, both hugely informative and highly educational. I love the way it's populated with so many examples - the many combinations of both mass market and the slightly more esoteric giving a something-for-everyone feeling. A brilliant work (Peter James, best-selling author of NOT DEAD ENOUGH and LOOKING GOOD DEAD)

Yorke sets out to analyse the patterns behind storytelling, explaining why the fundamentals of narrative have remained the same from Aristotle to Aaron Sorkin. A great starting point for anyone wanting to create a story (Stuff Magazine)

I've just read a book about professional writing which has genuinely helped me. It's for those who are serious about avoiding bad 'How To' books and want to raise their game, and it's more intelligent than most of the others. John Yorke's Into The Woods: How Stories Work And Why We Tell Them is a genuine game-changer and has helped me put past bad habits to rest (Christopher Fowler, Author of Bryant and May)

Into The Woods is utterly brilliant (Ed Cumming Daily Telegraph)

About the Author

John Yorke is Managing Director of Company Pictures, the UK drama independent producing Skins, Shameless, The White Queen and Wolf Hall. For many years he's been responsible for a vast array of British drama, as both Head of Channel Four Drama and Controller of BBC Drama Production. In 2005 he created the BBC Writers Academy, a year-long in-depth training scheme which has produced a generation of successful television writers. He's also worked as Editor of The Archers. John is Visiting Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jecelyn Latimer on 5 Nov. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm an aspiring novelist (I've been an aspiring novelist for about 5 years now, will probably still be an aspiring novelist in another 5) and have a degree in English and Creative Writing, so like most writers I've read countless books on how to improve my craft. When it comes to writing, I've held Stephen King's 'read a lot, write a lot' mantra in my head for a while, but I still flick through non-fiction books with the hope that a single sentence will unlock the magic genie lodged in my brain and a fully-formed manuscript will just appear right before my eyes.
Into The Woods was a fantastic surprise. Its main focus is on scripts, but talks about how to structure a story in general for different genres in 5 acts, and why those 5 acts are better than the common 3 that we tend to work to.
This has changed my perspective of how I structure a story. Some writers can go off without any sort of guidance, but I am not that writer. I need to break down my thoughts in a simple way. I think that now I have the tools to break my work easily, I can focus on aspects that I hadn't been able to before.
The writing is intelligent and full of cultural references whilst not being omnipotent and self-imposing. I've been introduced to theorists I never knew existed and perspectives I've never thought of.
Would recommend this book to anyone of all levels of writing who wants to learn how to best structure their novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Miss VINE VOICE on 2 July 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is a careful analysis of how stories have always been structured since we have record of them, and why certain patterns crop up over and over in every tv show/book/film. This isn't a how-to manual on script-writing, or a set of instructions on how to write a good story, but nevertheless a lot of the insights within the book are likely to help any writers who are struggling with an uncooperative story or characters that don't seem to work properly. It will be useful not only to screenwriters but to novelists and any writers who are starting out. It's unlikely to help generate any ideas for you or inspire you, but if you have an idea you're working on, the analysis of successful story patterns here may well help you to develop your fiction better.

At first I thought the author's style was good: it was accessible, easy to understand, and included lots of entertaining pop culture references to everything from Hannah Montana to classic Greek myth. However I soon found that the author made the same point over and over in different ways, and this repetitiveness became a little annoying. The structure sometimes seemed a little aimless too, and whilst the book never becomes truly dry, there are times when it does seem a little lifeless. Nevertheless, there are a lot of interesting points within the book, and I think it's worth a read for anyone who's interested in the way that we tell stories.

(A final point: this book has one of those weird covers that seems to get greasy fingerprints on it as soon as anyone looks at it.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Spanswick VINE VOICE on 23 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Many glued to their Eastender episodes may well be unaware of John Yorke's input ~ he gave us the fourth weekly episode,he wrote Ethel Skinner's emotional death and Dot's wedding to Jim. His influence is undeniable and was sadly missed but as in all good soaps he went back!!

His work in television drama is legendary so who better to write a book about how such drama works.

The book is very readable with references that can be assimilated without too much further research, he was a beltful of material to work from and though he doesnt give away all the secrets the book is certainly a must for any media student studying the structure of the most famous modern format ~ the continuing drama. One set up as long ago as Dickens and his episodic storytelling and creator of the "cliffhanger" now symbolised by the closing drums in the famous soap.

the very structure of this book is ingenious and although at times appears to be a compilation of researches into the history of Story couples with lecture notes and random musings the cohesion is not unlike thos continuing dramas when you have to "wait til next time" to see how it comes out. Soaps are the masters of conflict & resolution denied us mere mortals who must live our lives without the expertise of storyline writers.

As E.M.Forster once amusingly said, we are all Scheherezade's husband as we do want to know what happens next.

The book is a masterpiece of combining the scholarly with the everyday. He doesnt boast a background that is already there in his credentials.

He respects story as that central element in all our lives and his acknowledgement of the fairy story/folk tale is so pertinent as it can be found in just about every modern film or tv script
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By R. A. Caton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 July 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Peter Yorke has impeccable credentials in bringing successful drama to television. He clearly knows how to write a story. So he can tell us how to write another "Life On Mars"? well, no. And he isn't trying to.
This book does to the reader what good drama does to the viewer; it engages the brain, provides the data and the occasional pointer, and lets the audience connect the dots on its own for greater satisfaction.
Telling stories for the education and entertainment of others is one of the oldest of human occupations and it may come as a surprise to the newcomer exactly how closely the structures shown here fit well known stories, from Avatar to Watership Down, from Beowulf to Being John Malkovitch. The references given here are so up to date that I haven't seen some of them yet!

I found this volume an incredible insight into the way stories progress; as the protagonists make their way into "the wood" of the plot to re-emerge changed at the conclusion; that seems glib and if you want it in the detail it deserves there is no other way than to read this book, cover to cover, referring to the excellent notes in the 35 pages preceding the Bibliography, Acknowledgements, Credits and Index at the end.
There are 7 appendices which need to be read by way of illustration as well.

A hard book to read but worthwhile, especially if you have an interest in storytelling, as an author or a member of the audience.
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