Throughout my journey with Main Character May, I’ve relied on a variety of sources to bring you the most practical insights about protagonists. Here, I’ve provided my thoughts on two more books that are essential tools for any serious writer.

The Story Solution by Eric Edson

I had the privilege of learning directly from Eric Edson, the author of The Story Solution, during my Master’s in Screenwriting at Cal State Northridge.  The concepts presented in class can be found in his book, The Story Solution, which delivers a fresh perspective on effectively constructing a compelling story.

Edson states, “if you choose to work in this magical medium of storytelling, for the screen or for the printed page, you can save years of trial and error in the pursuit of strong plotting craft by applying the concepts explained in this book” (Edson ix).  The book presents Edson’s carefully researched story structure concept, which he calls Hero Goal Sequences.

Every commercially successful movie contains the same detailed pattern in screen storytelling, consisting of 23 specific, linking story actions I call Hero Goal Sequences that must be included in a script if the movie is to become a hit” (x).  We are then provided with a detailed breakdown of each Hero Goal Sequence and its importance to the story. 

Edson also provides insights into creating a protagonist the audience can support: “When a person finds your hero sympathetic, they identify with that character.  They project themselves into your hero as a surrogate for the adventure ahead” (14). He then presents the traits this character must possess to make this sympathy a reality.

With plenty of examples from familiar movies, Edson gives plenty of reasons why his Hero Goal Sequence structure is the best way to craft your next story.

The Anatomy of Story by John Truby

At the start of his book, Truby declares that his “goal is to explain how a great story works, along with the techniques needed to create one, so that you will have the best chance of writing a great story on your own” (Truby 5). He comprehensively analyzes a story’s characteristics and many aspects, breaking each element into easily digestible pieces.

Even for those who aren’t writers who are just curious about the mechanics of a story, this book gives it to you in a way that will make you an expert in the field by its end.  There’s also plenty of solid analysis of a story’s characters and the role each plays in moving the story and protagonist toward the narrative’s climax.

Using films and literature, Truby is a master of getting his points across in a detailed but easy-to-understand way.  This book has a lot to explore, learn, and be inspired by, and Truby delivers solid information that will help anyone become a better storyteller.

Like Edson, Truby has his own sequenced structure with 22 steps. He states, “The twenty-two building blocks of every great story are the crucial structure events, or stages, in the unfolding of an organic plot” (267). His detailed structure promises to “show you the most dramatic way to tell your story to an audience” (267). He then analyzes each step with examples from various films.  

With plenty of Key Points highlighted throughout, Truby’s book is a comprehensive study of what it takes to craft a solid narrative.

Books like The Story Solution and The Anatomy of Story are always handy to reference when you get stuck during the writing process or need some quick inspiration. They also provide valuable insight and tools for strengthening your stories and characters.

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