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Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by [Yorke, John]
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Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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Length: 309 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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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 of Luther and writer of Dr Who, Spooks and currently NBC's Crossbones)

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')

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 he's worked on big popular works such as Hustle, Spooks, Casualty and Holby City alongside award-winners such as Bodies, Omagh, Sex Traffic, Not Only But Always and The Curse of Steptoe. His career began single-handedly story-lining EastEnders in its very first BAFTA winning year - beginning a 14 year association that produced some of the biggest audiences in British television history. As a commissioning Editor/Executive Producer, he championed some of the defining works of British television including Life On Mars, The Street, Shameless and Waterloo Road. 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. He lives and works in London.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1185 KB
  • Print Length: 309 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1468308092
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846146445
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846146442
  • ASIN: B00ADNP2P2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #20,192 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
There are a number of books around about the ten, or nine or four or fifteen or however-many basic plots, but this one claims to have found the _single_ ‘underlying structure’ to storytelling, and claims furthermore that it’s an archetype that we know already. In short: the empathetic (but not necessarily nice) protagonist one day has a problem (the ‘inciting incident’), refuses to confront it, then does and looks like failing, then succeeds (or, in a rarer variant, fails).

The problem takes the protagonist to a new environment (literally or metaphorically); opponents may be ‘internal’ (psychological) and external; there will be reversals/ surprises/ turning points (at least two: a ‘call to action’ and a ‘realisation of consequences’, spaced around the mid-point); there may be episodic sub-goals, with sub-problems and sub-reversals using the same structure; even individual scenes follow the same setup-to-conflict-to-crisis pattern (but the first and last of these can be implicit in earlier or later action, so sometimes the scene is only the conflict).

The protagonist has a flaw and changes, which means their eventual goal may change too; but nonetheless they use their new knowledge at the final climax which resolves the original problem (or, rarely, the flaw leads to tragedy);

These structural claims are the key part of the book. But it also contains sections on: showing not telling; using psychological theories in characterisation; making the most of characters’ facades; using dialogue that tells the viewer important background (without being obvious about it); and more.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is worth noting that, for a book about writing, written by a writer, for writers, Into the Woods is incredibly badly written. And I do mean just awful. The author adopts the tone, throughout, of an enthusiastic but hopeless missionary, trying to explain the holy trinity to a skeptical savage. Every sentence is so identical to the preceding one, each paragraph is the same as the last, so that eventually you have to read everything twice, just to extract the information from the sentence, because the cumulative effect is so boring. The book is so repetitive anyway, that you aren't sure if you've read this sentence before, or if you've just read one like it, or just feel like you have. Also irritating, in a book of this kind, is the personal opinions of the author being presented as fact, usually in the form of annoying assertions, like, 'Tarantino's achingly clever screenplay' or 'Jimmy McGovern's brilliant depiction of...' Let's all agree that value judgements are subjective, but that some things seem to be more popular for some reason. Let's work out why.

As for the content, it is varied. The book is about film and television writing exclusively. The author's ideas on story structure are interesting, and convincing in places. The book begins with an analysis of the parts of a screenplay, which offer quite little that is new to existing students of story structure, although the author goes perhaps further than others in believing that stories are broken down into parts that mimic the whole, in a process that the author likens to fractals in nature. In other words, he is an extreme structuralist. I found the author's explanation of structure, despite his dreadful prose, to be quite lucid, and insightful at times. Much to agree with and disagree with.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although on occasion Mr Yorke has the slightly annoying habit of drawing support for his arguments by appealing to authorities beyond his particular sphere of expertise - eg psychology, religion - this is nonetheless an excellent book. It is written in the context of the many American books on story structure, eg Field, McKee, but it succeeds in adding something fresh and new, not least a British perspective. In particular, hIs emphasis on the five part story structure and the significance of the midpoint is really helpful in dealing with the problematic second act (in traditional 3 act structure). If you are interested in how to make your own stories more compelling, then it's pretty much a must-read. No doubt I will read this book many times.
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