Skip to main content

10 Great Mistakes with Story by John Truby

Hi Writers,
As promised, in follow up to yesterday's online-exclusive interview with Hollywood script doctor John Truby, here are 10 Great Mistakes writers make with story:

Great Mistake 1: The story idea isn't original.
Great Mistake 2: Writers often use the wrong genre to develop the idea, or they impose the pre-determined genre beats onto the idea instead of finding events that are original to the idea.
Great Mistake 3: They think a hit movie script is all about
finding the high concept premise. But they don't know how to extend the premise, from the two or three scenes suggested by the high concept to a 110-page script.
Great Mistake 4: They don't know how to hang the story on the seven major story structure steps, so the plot fails to come out of character and the main character does not change.
Great Mistake 5: They think of the hero as a separate individual with a
list of superficial character traits instead of as part of a web of characters, each character structurally different from the others.
Great Mistake 6: They try to create their plot using the three-act structure, which doesn't work and causes a weak middle, instead of using the 22 building blocks of every great story that builds the plot steadily from beginning to end.
Great Mistake 7: They fail to give their hero a moral as well as an emotional weakness at the beginning of the story.
Great Mistake 8: They don't know how to create the story world or how to connect it to the hero.
Great Mistake 9: They think the story is carried in the dialogue, or they force the dialogue to do the work that structure should do.
Great Mistake 10: They don't know that rewriting is a set of skills, just like plot and character. So they rewrite in the wrong order, and their second draft is worse than their first.

Please see my previous post for the full interview. John's book is The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller in bookstores now.

Keep Writing,
Maria
P.S. Here's sending good vibes to all our screenwriter friends on the picket lines. We appreciate the work you're doing to protect writer's rights!

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Rolling

The occasional bump in the writing process is normal, but it can be difficult to work through. Here, author Genevieve Essig shares five ways to keep your writing rolling.

From Script

How to Write from a Place of Truth and Desire and Bending the Rules in Screenwriting (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with screenwriter Steven Knight (Spencer), Mike Mills (C'mon C'mon), and David Mitchell (Matrix Resurrection). Plus, how to utilize your vulnerability in your writing and different perspectives on screenwriting structure.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is forgetting to read.

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Sharing even a fraction of our feelings with our characters will help our stories feel more authentic. Here, Kris Spisak explains how to tap into our memories to tell emotional truths on the page.

Poetic Forms

Trinet: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the trinet, a seven-line form based on word count.

Tammye Huf: On Real Love That Sparked Inspiration

Tammye Huf: On Real Love That Sparked Inspiration

Debut novelist Tammye Huf discusses how her own familial love story inspired her historical fiction novel, A More Perfect Union.

Announcing the Second Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Announcing the Second Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the second annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards!

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Going Rogue

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Going Rogue

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character go rogue.

How to Love Writing a Book

How to Love Writing a Book

When you’re in the weeds of the writing process, it’s easy to lose sight of why you started in the first place. Here, author Radhika Sanghani shares her tips on how to love the process of writing your book.