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on 23 July 2014
A great book for people who need more giudance on writing. Aimed mostly at screenplay writers, but also useful for novel writers (like me). Useful examples, and some of the films are my favourites, which increased my enjoyment of this book. It was interesting to see the interpretation of some aspect of their plot and how the author of this book found that particular film to be relevant. Easy to read. The only downside I saw was that I wished there was more directly related to writing a novel, and not a screenplay, but then, a scene is a scene and can sometimes be tweaked to fit a novel, after all, many stories are thought up as books first, and then bought to the big screen. I have the Kindle version of this, and it is a good reference book
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on 11 March 2013
The book is great, no doubt about it. Brian McDonald i sharp, direct, and easy to understand. There's only one minus: 80% of the content written in his book can be read on his blog, for free. Some of the content is almost copy/paste work. Please, do not misunderstand me, the content is great, but if you buy something, you might expect that you'll get more value for the money, but you don't.
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on 17 June 2015
There is some really interesting stuff in this book. However, I think the following observations may help you decide whether you want to read this:

* This is much more tailored to screen-writers than novelists. All by a small handful of the examples are from films, and the whole focus is on films.
* The style is a little bit holier than thou in regards to genre. McDonald appears to be of the opinion that if you can't see beyond genre, you are an inferior story teller. This began to get my back up after a while, especially because of...
* McDonald talks about internal vs. external conflict in a story as 'feminine' and 'masculine'. (i.e. feminine is emotions (internal conflict) and masculine is action (external conflict)). What was wrong with internal and external, I don't know. But perhaps it didn't allow the author to show the full range of his snippiness about inferior emotional stories or movies with lots of special effects (he harks on about these a lot). It also gave the author the chance to support his masculine/feminine idea with brief, superficial and selective evidence. There is also an odd contradiction about what constitutes a feminine film - he says chick flicks are feminine films and action films are masculine. But then says that people make feminine arty films and then wonder why no-one wants to see them, (in contrast to special effects masculine films, which he infers do well at the box office). But there was me thinking that chick flicks did well at the box office because people like them... And the generalisations about men/womens writing styles and what films they prefer is pretty insensitive. Ultimately, this chapter didn't need to be rage inducing. It could have been about internal and external conflict. I tried to keep this in mind, but still got pretty annoyed, as you can see.
* The focus here is on structure in a story (basically a beginning, middle, after type idea). If you're after help with characterisation, or specifics, this isn't it. I'm not sure about the 'resonate' claim either. A guide to making stories that feel complete would be more accurate.
* It says that it is useful for readers - I'm not so sure. As a reader rather than a writer I think this would be a guide to getting frustrated and feeling superior about story structure, especially in films. If that's what you want, go for it.
* It's short. The audio book was only a few hours long.
* It raises a couple of good general points, but I doubt that this is a book that I will come back to again.
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on 7 February 2013
This book is fantastic. It points out a number of key story elements that may seem so simple and obvious when he first mentions them, but are so integral to making the story work as a whole that you cannot begin to imagine why you left them out. Even if you haven't left them out, then it's interesting to hear it explained in such a clear way.

Were the book written in the dry and dusty format of educational books, I doubt this would have been so useful to me. McDonald has a very engaging 'voice', and the way he eagerly points out examples in films, books, plays and real life, shows a passion that quickly becomes contagious. It becomes easy reading, and very enjoyable.

The greatest thing of all, though, is that this is a book for writing stories. Not novels, or TV scripts, or stage plays. It goes back to the core of all these types of entertainment - telling a good tale - and as such it almost transcends genre. For myself, I've recently used it to help write a short graphic novel and to bring life back into my short stories, and I think this ability to go across genres and platforms makes this book invaluable.
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on 13 May 2015
Invisible ink is an outstanding book that tells you everything you need to know about storytelling. Invisible ink isn't just an invaluable tool for screenplays or scriptwriting; it's also useful for anyone interested in film, animation, illustration, character design and writing, as it covers the most important aspect of creating anything: telling the story.

Brian McDonald has a hugely engaging writing style; he delivers salient information in an entertaining manner, and without trying to sound either pretentious, or show off his extensive and impressive knowledge. Brian McDonald educates without being dry for tedious by telling you what you need to know and then moving on; making the book a joy to read, and you will probably devour its 153 pages of information very quickly. All the fat has been trimmed; there is no filler here.

Invisible ink uses real films to illustrate the points it needs to make in a very accessible and enthusiastic manner; you can feel McDonald's love for the films as he discusses them. It will enable you to analyse and understand theme, plot and characters.
The book covers how to structure a story, theme beating logic, putting l your character through hell, ensuring truth in your story, making things sound natural, how to avoid common pitfalls in storytelling and a myriad of other subjects that are all integral to good storytelling.

To summarise, invisible ink is an essential guidebook that clearly and effortlessly teaches you how to tell stories in an entertaining manner, no matter what medium you're creating in. Thoroughly Recommended.
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on 16 May 2016
How good is it? Well, I bought Ink Spots first and then ordered Invisible Ink within half an hour of opening it. I'm amazed that I'd never come across Brian's work before as he is obviously a gifted and generous teacher, full of great stories and fresh techniques. As someone who has bought dozens of Screenwriting books, I've developed a philosophy that if I can get just one good idea out of each book, they are worth the money. Most don't add anything to my game. But Invisible Ink (and its bloggy brother, Ink Spots) has re-energised my writing. I highly recommend them both to writers of all levels.
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on 19 August 2015
I'm still reading this, but I can already tell you that it's a thrill. McDonald's writing is so captivating, when I came back from lunch and picked the book back up, I looked for the "play" button. The book is entertaining as well as memorizing, it doesn't lecture you, but breaks apart and re-builds concepts that allow you to truly understand and contemplate on the book's ideas. This book is a mind-opener.
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on 1 August 2015
Brian McDonald takes the reader through story structure in a way that just makes sense. He shows how the layers of the onion lie and tells it in a way that somehow makes you feel you can already do it.

One of the best "how to" books on my bookshelf.
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on 26 November 2016
Clearly and thoughtfully written, the voice of the author is engaging without being verbose. I learned a lot form this book and it reaffirmed my love for story and its importance in EVERYTHING no matter what genre.
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on 27 November 2015
I love both books I've read by this author. (The Golden Theme was the other). The get straight to the point, showing real insight about storytelling that really speaks to people. Very highly recommended.
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