Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memo From The Story Dept.

Secrets of Structure and Character
By Christopher Vogler & David McKenna

Book Review
By Ann Baldwin

Christopher Vogler is a story consultant and author of The Writer's Journey. He advises major Hollywood studios and talent on their stories and presents workshops on mythic structure for Fortune 500 companies and audiences around the world. He wrote the screenplay for the animated feature Jester Till and was executive producer of the independent film P.S. Your Cat Is Dead. Trained as a theatre director, David McKenna has staged over one hundred plays, many of which were writer collaborations on new scripts. He has taught film courses for twenty years, notably at Columbia University, Barnard College, and NYU. He has written story analysis on more than ten thousand scripts for private clients as well as for Focus Features, HBO, and 20th Century-Fox. In their newest book, Memo From The Story Dept. Secrets of Structure and Character (Michael Wiese Productions July 2011), they fill your writer’s toolbox with a unique set of instruments and keys, while shining light on places and things hidden within a story, so you can better navigate the journey as you transport your audience.

There are at least two sides to every good story and when it comes to writers grasping an element in the storytelling craft, it can take two or more points of view sometimes to really understand it; Chris and David accomplish giving you many new perspectives and that “aha” feeling of clarity. They get you started with The “Want” List, things that drive you through life and your characters through your story (without a driver, no one goes anywhere).

They will show you how to be a good story mechanic by taking everything apart, so you can see how all the pieces work together, in order for you to construct a solid working story. Some of the areas you will examine are the Twelve Stages of The Hero’s Journey, secret to what a scene really is, simple mathematical equation for establishing theme, reciprocal action between two characters, four things that a character equals, character traits and functions, what creates a good rhythm and balance, and origins of storytelling and performance from fairy-tales to Vaudeville to films.

They will teach you how to be a great story detective by investigating your Six Environmental Facts and the use of polar opposites (like good cop/bad cop) to help you bring your characters out of hiding.

Memo From The Story Dept. is highly recommended for all writers who wish to gain the focused attention of their audience, one of the rarest and most valuable commodities of all time.

To learn more about Christopher Vogler you can visit his website at and contact David McKenna at and purchase a copy of Memo From The Story Dept. at Michael Wiese Productions, The Writers Store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Borders.

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