27 Essential Principles of Story: Master the Secrets of Great Storytelling, from Shakespeare to South Park

Daniel Joshua Rubin. Workman, $19.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-5235-0716-0
Rubin, a playwright and TV scriptwriter, aims with this manual to give writers “enough direction to avoid getting lost, but not so much that it strangles your creativity,” and succeeds in creating an invaluable resource. He offers an array of techniques (escalate risk, provoke dilemma, confront evil, etc.) for effective storytelling, first demonstrating how a master used a technique to great effect, and then explaining how neophytes may do so as well. His choices of “masters” may surprise. Rubin includes the usual suspects—Shakespeare (who “drops the hammer” when he has Hamlet learn the truth behind his father’s death) and Shirley Jackson (who “confronts evil” with her depiction of a seemingly tranquil small town’s dark side in “The Lottery”), among others—but he also uses TV shows, movies, and even a video game, Red Dead Redemption, the runaway success of which he attributes to its creators obeying the principle “make your hero active and decisive.” This is a no-brainer for both pro and would-be novelists. Lisa DiMona, Writer’s House. (July)
Reviewed on : 03/17/2020
Release date: 08/18/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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