Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them


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This was an interesting, if heavy, look into story structure. It can be applied to any form of creative storytelling: film, play, novel. I found the approach very dry and matter-of-fact, but intriguing all the same. John Yorke. What is a Story? ThreeAct Structure. FiveAct Structure.

The Importance of Change. How We Tell Stories. The Inciting Incident. Television and the Triumph of Structure. Series and Serial Structure. Gemma Hoyle While John Yorke valiantly attempts to break storytelling down to its fundamentals in terms of actually teaching you about the craft itself I would …more While John Yorke valiantly attempts to break storytelling down to its fundamentals in terms of actually teaching you about the craft itself I would have to hands down go with McKee.

That's in no way saying it's not definitely worth reading though. I would recommend both! They're currently my top two go-to books on the subject.

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Even though Yorke is at sometimes vague I especially like how he puts emphasis upon how when it comes to writing about narrative theory there's a lot of guff to wade through as well as about different snake oil salesman all trying to peddle their own variations on story structure. With his invaluable personal experience he helps to give some clarity to it all. See 1 question about Into the Woods…. Lists with This Book.

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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. John Yorke is a British TV producer. These books are essentially screenwriting handbooks, which try to surface and elucidate the hidden structure of storytelling.

This sort of research however can be traced back to Campbell's studies on myth, The Hero with a Thousand Faces , Propp's Morphology of the Folktale and first and foremost to Aristotle's attempt at describing how tragedies should work in his Poetics. Yorke's book is yet another attempt at understanding how storytelling works.

While doing so he criticises his predecessors for their lack of depth of view rather unsurprisingly: it's a typical way of justifying one's own work. His ambition in this book is to give some "scientific" he talks about the "physics of storytelling" or at least explanatory arguments to the structural patterns of storytelling. His enquiry contains a few very interesting elaborations on structure symmetry: stories often can be split in the middle and the two segments from beginning to midpoint and from midpoint to end present symmetrical patterns.

He also expands on the idea that story shapes have a fractal design: each scene in a play displaying the same pattern as the acts or as the whole play, etc. He finally insists on explaining why we tell stories, and gives a few possible reasons, the most convincing one being that they are essential to our cognitive process and to our need to instil an orderly pattern into the frightening and ever changing chaos of reality. When talking about actual storytelling structure, things get a bit muddy however.

As it is known, the fundamental structure that is advocated by most former screenwriting "gurus" since at least Syd Field is that of the three acts exposition - complication - resolution. York, however, starts out trying to vindicate the old Roman convention of a five acts structure. To support this argument, he borrows examples from Shakespeare, oddly forgetting that the divisions of Shakespeare's plays in five acts are the doing of posthumous sometimes ill fitting editorial decisions.

And, in conclusion, he concedes that the five acts division equates the three acts division, the essential aspect being that they both have an exposition, a mid-point, a crisis, a climax, a denouement. Better still, the three acts division borrows from the waltzed mouvement of Hegelian dialectics, founding principle of the way we structure the world perhaps even principle of how the world is structured?

This idea clearly comes from the fact that almost all his examples are from movies, TV dramas and performing arts, which in many cases are, indeed, conventionally explicitly or implicitly broken into three or five parts sometimes with a couple of intervals for the audience and the performers to rest. But they sound a bit too prescriptive to be true, and they would have needed to be crash-tested against a wider corpus of literary examples, especially from poetry, novels, even history.

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Sep 06, Fran rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction. The stories we choose to tell, and the ways we choose to tell them, speak who we are and how we understand our role in this world, or so Yorke tells us in his wonderful "Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey Into Story. Best of all, all the knowledge and wisdom Yorke bestows on us comes in the form of great, funny, engaging examples taken from the books and movies we all have read and watch. Yorke—professional screenwriter wi The stories we choose to tell, and the ways we choose to tell them, speak who we are and how we understand our role in this world, or so Yorke tells us in his wonderful "Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey Into Story.

Yorke—professional screenwriter with years of experience working in television—pours the light of his knowledge into the dark corners of story writing for us to see, and most important, to understand the significance of variation in stories and how these differences shape narratives in film, theater, and novels. Soon, given the universality of storytelling structures, it becomes clear that these patterns, these structures, must grow out of some kind of neurological basis. He sets out to explain what these universal structures are and, perhaps most importantly, to answer the question of why stories work the way they do.

However, faithful to Yorke's distrust of writing gurus with magic formulas, this book is less an instructional manual than a guide, carefully exploring the possibilities and recurring ideas of story through an extended metaphor of entering then leaving a forest. It flows easily and draws you along like any good story should, making for a compelling tale, appropriate for anyone who tells stories or is fascinated by them. View all 4 comments. Apr 27, Joseph D'Lacey rated it it was amazing. With Into the Woods, Yorke has performed a service to every writer on the planet. Personally, I found it uplifting and liberating because it encouraged me to do what has always worked best: following my own quiet, but deeply held instincts about what and how to write.

Into The Woods How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them

It's so easy to be swept away by creative self-doubt and the fear that, just because you're not a 'big name' in fiction or film, your work isn't good enough. That insecurity sells every 'how to' manual ever written and makes gurus ou With Into the Woods, Yorke has performed a service to every writer on the planet. That insecurity sells every 'how to' manual ever written and makes gurus out of those who, perhaps through some notable success, appear to have found a foolproof 'system'.

Writers with great talent but equally crushing self-doubt are all too ready to buy into such cults but consider this: if there was a foolproof system, every book would be a bestseller, every movie a smash hit. As Yorke points out when discussing Nassim Nicholas Taleb's studies, it isn't past blockbusters we should focus on. Every game-changing book, film or work of art is a Black Swan; something no one saw coming or had ever conceived of before. That's why they're ground-breaking.

Trying to reproduce the Black Swan phenomenon is impossible because each one is unique. Into the Woods does so much more than tell you how to write or 'succeed'. It's about the principles of story, their bedrock, their natural shape and their purpose. It's a book that, rather than hold you to hard and fast rules - no matter how reassuring such rules might seem - will set you free into the realms of story.

By doing what you already do best and loving every minute of it, you cannot help but bring the stories only you can tell to life. I think that may be what Mr. Yorke is telling us and I'm grateful for his message. Putting all this aside, the book was beautifully-written, told its own unique story and oozed fascination from every page. If there's any artistic logic or justice in this world, Into the Woods is destined to join the classics of writing theory. Jun 15, John Martin rated it liked it.

I've put this book aside after reading about 10 per cent of it. It came highly recommended, but it's a bit too academic for me. That's my failing, not that of the author who comes with a long list of achievements. I've given the book three stars but remember that's only based on 10 per cent of the book! Greater minds than mine rate it much more highly.

View 1 comment. Sep 23, Renee Godding rated it it was amazing. Review to come. Jan 01, F. It is fascinating to read John Yorke break down story to its core elements; stripping away plot, dialogue and motivation — and all other artifice and decoration — to really examine what makes stories work. Yorke pulls away at the very concept: working out how one particular component functions; then yanking away some more and examining another aspect; before holding it up to the light again and so on. Some of what he comes up with I already knew as, I think, would most consumers of books, TV and It is fascinating to read John Yorke break down story to its core elements; stripping away plot, dialogue and motivation — and all other artifice and decoration — to really examine what makes stories work.

When it challenges your preconceptions and makes you examine them again closely. Feb 18, Nick Imrie rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , writing. How to structure a story is a topic that's pretty much been covered. It's all just footnotes to Aristotle, right? In fact, it's been so covered that there are a great many writers who indignantly swear that they won't be constrained by stuffy old prescriptions on how to structure.

You'll notice those writers are still writing pretty well structured stories - almost as if it were an inevitable consequence of how humans understand the world and not just a bunch of arbitrary rules. The book is cleverly structured - as the title tells you - as a five act story. This is a nifty trick; because it has a narrative arc it's a very easy read, not at all dry or academic despite being highly informative.

Most fun was his concept of 'fractal structure'. A three-act story is pretty much the same as five-act or seven-act because it's all the same template, just cut up in different ways. An act has the same structure as a scene has the same structure as a beat etc. Retrieved December 15, January 6, Retrieved January 6, January 7, Retrieved December 11, January 14, Retrieved January 14, Retrieved on 18 March Retrieved April 13, Retrieved December 3, Satellite Awards. March 3, Retrieved March 3, December 10, The Awards Circuit. Retrieved December 6, Young Artist Awards.

Archived from the original on November 19, Retrieved October 3, Films directed by Rob Marshall. Grimms' Fairy Tales Rapunzel Rapunzel Cress Cinderella by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.

Hey, Cinderella! Cinderella complex Cinderella effect The Cinderella Movement. Blunderbore Cormoran Thunderdell. Jack, the Giant Killer. Jack the Giantkiller. Musicals by Stephen Sondheim. Categories : films English-language films s fantasy films s musical drama films American films American fantasy films American musical drama films American musical fantasy films Adultery in films Dark fantasy films Films about death Films about babies Films about children Films about curses Films about families Films about giants Films about orphans Films about royalty Films about shapeshifting Films about witchcraft Films about wish fulfillment Films based on musicals Films based on Grimms' Fairy Tales Films based on Cinderella Films based on Jack and the Beanstalk Films based on Little Red Riding Hood Films based on Rapunzel Films directed by Rob Marshall Films produced by Marc E.

Hidden categories: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter Use mdy dates from June Commons category link is on Wikidata. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Academy Awards [].

February 22, Best Supporting Actress. Best Production Design. Best Costume Design. January 31, Art Directors Guild Awards []. Excellence in Production Design for a Fantasy Film. American Cinema Editors []. American Film Institute []. British Academy Film Awards []. February 8, Best Makeup and Hair.

Peter Swords King , J. Roy Helland. Broadcast Film Critics Association []. January 15, Best Acting Ensemble. Best Art Direction. Casting Society of America []. Chicago Film Critics Association. Costume Designers Guild []. Detroit Film Critics Society. Empire Awards []. Best Male Newcomer. Florida Film Critics Circle. Golden Globe Awards []. Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy. Best Supporting Actress — Motion Picture. Kids' Choice Awards [].

March 28, MTV Movie Awards [] []. San Diego Film Critics Society. Satellite Awards [] []. February 15, Best Ensemble — Motion Picture. Best Sound Editing and Mixing. Best Visual Effects. Saturn Awards []. Best Fantasy Film. Best Costume. Best Make-up. Screen Actors Guild Awards []. January 25, Louis Film Critics.

Washington D. Area Film Critics Association Awards []. Best Ensemble. Young Artist Awards []. May 15, Wikimedia Commons has media related to Into the Woods film. Characters Blunderbore Cormoran Thunderdell.

Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them

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