3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not a book I've been able to read alone (in a good way)
, 1 July 2013
This review is from: Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them (Paperback)
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This book seems to practically incite conversation at lunchtime:
`What's that you're reading?'.
`Um... story structure'.
`Why would you want to know about that?'
(I have a video DSLR camera and I bought a motorized dolly track, a steadicam, and Adobe Production Premium Suite, and now want to see about writing and creating some video shorts for the internet... but I don't say that because it would take too long, and instead I say):
`... so you can watch a film or TV programme and understand its structure and intent'.
`Doesn't that kill the enjoyment?'
`Only if you like being a passive audience.
'I don't follow..?'
'Um, ok. So for example, in Eastenders, they're always talking about family. That's their motive for everything, and it's what drives the plot. You'd expect to get things like gangsters and bad weddings in Eastenders, because that's an extreme part of their arc (family and honour), and once you know that driving force, you'd be surprised if there wasn't a Dirty Den and the Mitchell brothers in it. For Corrie it's all about community, and Emmerdale is tradition, so you get different dynamics and story arcs in both. It's fun actively picking that deeper storyline out rather than just watching it'.
Then I talk about this deeper storyline being so important that if it doesn't exist then someone has to invent it, otherwise you have no plot nor interest. This explains why you get backstories in Big Brother that the contestants later swear were manufactured for the screen. Even in reality TV and documentary we expect each character to have a definite purpose and an antagonist otherwise we will lose interest.
They go a bit thoughtful, um-and-ah a bit and we get onto films, and I say something like:
`Well, this book talks about Hollywood movies as well as television, but most competing books are all about movies, because they tend to be American and more aspirational: everyone there wants to do a big film straightaway. That makes this book much better for me: realistically, everyone's going to start on TV or web video, and this book was written by someone who's been involved in serials and TV commissioning'.
So they go on about enjoying a film and I say:
`How can you truly enjoy a film if you don't know why Citizen Kane is one of the greatest films, and Star Wars isn't?'.
Usually we meet somewhere in the middle (at around The Matrix).
I've had this conversation three times so far. Every one of them has looked at the blurb afterwards, and at the end have said
`Well, that sounds actually interesting. Can I, um, borrow it when you're finished?'...
So to conclude, both myself and a few of my nosier friends recommend this book.
I'm just psyching myself up to having to buy another copy when this one goes walkabout!
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