At the same time, heavily referencing Joseph Campbell's Hero with a thousand faces (which I read in the mid seventies) which was itself the inspiration for George Lucas' Star Wars, he lays bare the skeleton of every story: an 'inciting incident' propels the hero into a strange world (into the woods), where he battles with an antagonist, changing, learning and developing psychologically; once he has grown he is ready to return to the normal world.
It is both inspiring and wonderful. It contains so many insights:
- "Dialogue is not narrative ... dialogue is the characters' responses to the narrative." p150
- The narrative fallacy is "post hoc ergo propter hoc": after this therefore because of this; the idea that because things are stated sequentially there must be some sort of causal link p215: "The wisest advice I ever received" was that Shameless "might just have been a success despite you." p216 He quotes Polly Toynbee as saying that journalists "precis a muddled reality into a narrative of right and wrong." p217
He's right. I watched the film Genova last week. After the young girl runs out of the church, seeing the ghost of her mother, and disappears IN THE WOODS I said to my wife: that's the turning point; we are exactly half way through the film. I was correct within three minutes.
This was a wonderful book and I shall keep it and dip into it again. It says a lot and I will need repeat readings to understand it all . But it has already changed the way I think about dramas.
Brilliant and thought-provoking. May 2013; 231 pages