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Customer Review

51 of 66 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Snake Oil, 9 April 2013
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This review is from: Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them (Paperback)
This book is a disappointment.
Relentlessly repetitive, it takes five acts to describe a one-scene story.
A harping, irritating prose style forever exclaiming how 'simple' and 'clear' things are, and forever promising some great insight into storytelling yet delivering bland obvious-isms. And the same ones over and over and over again.
If you've ever wondered how British television drama became thin, bland, predictable in its patterns and empty of idiosyncrasy or living characters, it could just be that this one man, John Yorke, is responsible... and now he wants everyone else to know how to do it.
More annoyed than I otherwise might be because of the claims the publicity makes that this is something different. Well done Yorke/Independent, you got £10 out of this sucker.
It's a cynical, massively padded, repetitive, strident, dull, pale, thin ghost of Booker's Seven Basic Plots from which, as far as I can tell, it takes a very great deal.
Seriously terrible, and not to be taken seriously by anyone who loves beauty, depth, idiosyncrasy or originality in their stories.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Apr 2013 06:38:46 BDT
clive says:
Can't say i agree with you in anyway.To take the prose style i didn't even notice it, which has to be a good thing.Some of the concepts i found quite hard, especially when the they were by thinkers or philosophers i had never heard of.I came away with the feeling that he'd done a lot of boring reading for me.I don't want to bother with people like hegel if i don't have to.And all that stuff about reality tv fitting the story paradigm, i never knew that, nor even guessed it.I can see, as he explains why some shows work and others don't.It's come in quite handy actually because i'm on hols at a big posh place and the manager wants a reality concept/format- and i'm like well we need a plausible story engine thats renewable every week, and the drama is only in conflict,and we need a clear act structure.I've told them to call it guessed relations and have nicked most of it from don't tell the bride- but you wouldn't believe the upgrades and free eats and fluffing that we are getting.So as far as i'm concerned yorkie can do no wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2013 09:20:18 BDT
and i'm like well we need a plausible story engine thats renewable every week, and the drama is only in conflict,and we need a clear act structure.I've told them to call it guessed relations and have nicked most of it from don't tell the bride- but you wouldn't believe the upgrades and free eats and fluffing that we are getting.So as far as i'm concerned yorkie can do no wrong.

Er... like I said:

If you've ever wondered how British television drama became thin, bland, predictable in its patterns and empty of idiosyncrasy or living characters...

Own goal, Clive.

Cheers

In reply to an earlier post on 29 May 2013 22:34:07 BDT
I disagree with your conclusion, but I think the point is well-made that this book tells us how all British screen-writing is done, rather than uncovering what makes the best screen-writing good and the weak bad.

Posted on 7 Jun 2013 18:07:39 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jun 2013 18:24:45 BDT
I don't think it's as bad as Voracious Reader makes out. There are some useful bits in it - I thought the essays on TV format and structure were quite interesting. But I would definitely agree that if you took away the sections which rehash "Seven Basic Plots" you aren't left with much. If you've not read many books on this subject, you'll probably enjoy it, but if you have read Christopher Booker and Robert McKee then you'll struggle to see exactly what Yorke's book is bringing to the table. (It's also surprisingly poorly edited, with typos and spelling mistakes throughout, which you would not expect from a prestige Penguin title.)

It is however significantly less bad than Paul Ashton's "The Calling Card Script" which is atrocious.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2013 19:24:11 BDT
I'm surprised you think this is relies on a rehash of Seven Basic Plots. This book is infinitely better, and benefits from being written by someone who knows how to write scripts. I didn't find anything in Booker that was worth taking away.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jul 2013 01:52:54 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jul 2013 01:57:35 BDT
@ clive:

You're an oaf. Your standard of English is so atrocious that it startled my cat. 'i'm like well...'. Dear me. The kids today...

What the hell are the likes of you doing in reviewing a book on story structure? You need a waterproof one, with pictures, about fairies, mate.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jul 2013 07:40:25 BDT
clive says:
'significantly less bad'- I bow to the master of bowderlised bad speak.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jul 2013 21:25:39 BDT
clive says:
What would be interesting is if someone like gladwell took on this topic and went for the implications of what could be deduced in business or life. For example if you look at your own life in narrative rerms, it might be that you got divorced or started a business- whatever, but you could track it back to the initiating incident, you could spot with hindsight where the curtain on act two was. In short you could affect outcomes because you would be armed with a script in life for when the next divorce/business/event happens because it will unfold according to the paradigm. Or take the life of a product, a model T or an Ipad or a Land camera, using the paradigm you can predict outcomes, and to a degree that's probably how people like Jobbs already work. IE You bring the T/i out only in black, later you do a colour.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jul 2013 10:24:43 BDT
@ Clive

I think stories make life seem like it might make sense, give us the idea we might have some agency in the events of our existence, and that's one reason we like them. But life's a messy crawl uphill in the heat with guts hanging out prey to random acts of a carrion-seeking fate, isn't it?

Er, sn't it?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jul 2013 23:01:32 BDT
clive says:
I run a business, you'd laugh if you knew what it was, but the point is i gain and lose customers in a begining middle and end manner.They call this churn, and typically the energy suppliers, and broadband people have this too.Each customer has a life expectancy, probably two years, there will be a reason they picked the phone up and got me (iniating incident), and a reason they sack me.As you mention (your english is not bad by the way,but why do you keep using your mangy maggot infested cat as the metaphor?) most would happen anyway, but i am able to predict future behaviour by a few giveaways (story theory). The worst being a promiscous customer (who sites previous duff suppliers etc) or a fussy customer.So a bit like cracker profiling killers, the rapist will start with small random acts etc.Even the madelane thing could be approached in a fresh (story) way.
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