Mr. Trudy is a muckety muck premier storyteller in Hollywood. And sadly, no, he is not my BFF. He has worked as a story consultant and script doctor for Disney, Sony Pictures, Fox Entertainment Group, HBO, and others. Like I said, he isn’t my bestie but I’m game to try to be. What do you think Mr. Trudy? Wanna get coffee and talk strategy? Drop me a message and we can set something up. You know, have your people get in touch with my people. Wait- I don’t have people. Get in touch with me. That works. Onward we go…!
As I mentioned before, I will not be covering the entirety of this book because, well, we have done it all several times before. You are more than welcome to go back into the archives of this blog and catch up on anything you may have missed. The Anatomy of Story by John Trudy is 421 pages and 11+ chapters. My plan is to only cover 5 of these awesome-sauce, information packed chapters. We will look at:
- Chapter 3: Seven Key Steps of Story Structure
- Chapter 4: Character
- Chapter 5: Moral Argument
- Chapter 7: Story World
- Chapter 10: Scene Construction and Symphonic Dialogue
If you do a little bit of math you will see that is only 227-ish pages of this 421 full manuscript.
“What does that mean, Ticia?”
“I am so glad you asked. What that means is you should buy your own amazing copy of this book and read the remaining 194 pages all by yourself. Cool idea, right?”
We will start on page 39 Chapter 3, The Seven Key Steps of Story Structure. Ready? So, when we talk about a story and how it develops, we are talking about time. We always comment on how quickly a child grows up, but if you really pay attention you see steps that occur as they grow, like crawling, walking, running. The same holds true for a story. According to Mr. Trudy a story has a minimum of seven steps in its growth.
- Weakness and need
- New equilibrium
Let’s begin where it begins, weakness and need.
It tends to stand true that the hero of your story has one or two weaknesses that are holding them back from greatness. For example, Kryptonite for Superman. This is something that could ruin their life or hold your character back. For your character to have the happiness they desire more than anything, they must overcome their weakness.
Weakness gives your character, well…character. But need is important. Like, need moves the story. Keep these two things, weakness and need, in mind at each point of your story.
Key Point: (I will add these along the way as Mr. Trudy has. You’re Welcome.) Your hero should not be fully aware of his/her/their need at the beginning of the story.
If your hero already knows then the story is over. There can be no growth in your character without struggling to discover what they need.
Key Point: Give your character a moral need as well as a psychological need.
In most stories the goal is to get ‘the thing.’ There is always a psychological need. In better stories, the hero has a moral need as well. They must overcome a flaw and learn how to treat people better. Think of this as the Sherlock dilemma. He is a total jerk who does amazing things but has no clue how to treat people. His flaw would be learning how to treat people with respect. He never will but that’s the fun in it.
What you need to know now and why I tell you to buy the books we cover, is that Mr. Trudy is taking his list and giving you movies to relate to them. Buy the book.
Key Point: Keep the problem simple and specific.
- Weakness: coffee
- Need: always needed to refill coffee cup
That’s my weakness/need. Really, it is.
How do we create a moral need?
In many stories the moral need usually comes from the psychological need. Your hero has a psychological weakness that leads them to take it out on others. Therein creating a moral need to stop hurting people around them.
- Begin with the psychological need. (Money)
- What kind of immoral action might naturally come out of that? (Greed)
- Identify the deep-seated moral weakness and need that the source of this action. (Raised poor and treated bad.)
Another way to do this is:
- Identify a virtue in your character. Make him/her/them passionate about it. So much so that it becomes oppressive.
- Come up with the value the character holds then find the negative version of that value. (Religion can cause judgement.)
How are we doing? Is this helping? We will cover the second key structure, DESIRE, next time.
Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.
I’m always looking for new friends!
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Universal Code for O-B*tch-uary: https://books2read.com/u/bOZe8o
Universal Code for Sin Full: http://books2read.com/u/m2Vdqd
Author Page: amazon.com/author/nellawarrent