Monday, April 30, 2012


Thought I'd share an excerpt from my International Bestselling eBook The Screenwriter's Fairy Tale: The Universal Story Within All Movie Stories:

When my first book Something Startling Happens: The 120 Story Beats Every Writer Needs To Know hit Amazon's Top 5 for Film and Television books in December of 2011, and then #1 on Kindle for Screenwriting, it blew my mind and humbled me. You see, originally the information in that book wasn't meant for the world at all. It was my own secret passion project to sharpen my writing skills. When you see the book on the shelves now, it's all clean and tidy, but in reality the research process accumulated messy reams of dog-eared and tea-stained legal pads, a scratched stopwatch, a casualty of spent pens, and piles of over 300 scuffed-up DVDs of classic films.

This new work you're about to read went through a similar process.

Why did I research so many movies? I wanted to get to the bottom of how stories worked so I could tell better yarns. The process reminded me of my teenage years. I loved peeking underneath the hood of my beat-ta-crap Chevy to see how the heap was put together. I would disassemble the individual parts that smelled of oil and gas, and study how they fit to make the engine rumble. I'm that same way today with stories.

When you immerse yourself that deeply into figuring things out, you can't help but walk away with a few insights. When I emerged from those four bleary-eyed years of story engine analysis, the knowledge I gained helped propel my stories towards the top of major screenwriting competitions, attracted options and script sales, and launched my book into the bestseller list, which led to other writing deals. But the coolest thing I gained from this whole journey, by far, was the worldwide emails from screenwriters who loved the book and benefited from it. It was those positive messages that inspired me to share even more insights.
Thus this new fable.

I adore screenwriters — we noble story warriors who toil countless hours alone in our rooms and in coffeeshops because we love movies so damn much. We savor how the stories make us feel, and we want — so desperately — to make others feel that same way. What a beautiful, precious cause.

This fable is dedicated to you.

In just a bit, you'll be reading the exact same four-act fairy tale I wrote for myself to help me assemble the bare bones of a story; it's also the template I use to write all my treatments. It's a distillation of what I've found to be common in all successful movies — an archetypal story pattern used since the ancient Greeks. To help you even further, I included a matching paragraph-by-paragraph example of the Academy Award-winning film, The King's Speech.

All the very best, Noble Warrior.


Once upon a time, in every great movie ever made, there was an incomplete Boy who lived his normal everyday life in his normal everyday world. This Boy, who was orphaned in some way, desperately wanted something and thought that if he got that particular something, it would fix his incompleteness. He didn't realize, however, that he had a much deeper problem on his hands -- he possessed a stubborn flaw, which he was blind to. In fact, this flaw prevented him from getting what he really needed in his life: true happiness or enlightenment.

Going about his usual business, the Boy interacted with friends or a love interest and discussed that thing he desperately wanted. Some of his friends were nice and helpful, while others were mean. But just when the Boy was going to continue on repeating his same ol' everyday habits, a predicament interrupted his life — a predicament that would eventually lead to the exposure of his flaw. The Boy found this predicament unsettling and feared it. In some cases, however, the predicament thrilled the Boy — he saw it as an opportunity. In this circumstance, his disquieted friends expressed fear for the Boy instead.

Soon after, the Boy met with a mentor. Sometimes the mentor was older and wiser and offered words of wisdom. Other times, the mentor appeared wise, but offered the wrong advice. Mulling over his chat with his mentor, the Boy realized that he still lacked something in his life. But the Boy didn't understand why he lacked this something because his flaw still blinded him. In the midst of all these happenings, a bully made his presence known — a powerful adversary who would eventually find a way to exploit the Boy's flaw in order to defeat him. As the Boy tried to maintain his bearings within his unraveling world, a startling life-changing event propelled him into uncharted territory.

End of excerpt.

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1 comment:

  1. i love reading fables. where can get this thing in pronted copy?