Into The Woods : How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
We all love stories. But why do we tell them? And why do all stories function in an eerily similar way? John Yorke, creator of the BBC Writers' Academy, has brought a vast array of drama to British screens. Here he takes us on a journey to the heart of storytelling, revealing that there truly is a unifying shape to narrative forms - one that echoes the fairytale journey into the woods and, like any great art, comes from deep within. From ancient myths to big-budget blockbusters, he gets to the root of the stories that are all around us, every day.
- Paperback | 336 pages
- 129 x 198 x 19mm | 247g
- 06 Oct 2015
- Penguin Books Ltd
- London, United Kingdom
About John Yorke
John Yorke is Managing Director of Company Pictures, the UK drama independent producing Skins, Shameless, The White Queen and Wolf Hall. For many years he's been responsible for a vast array of British drama, as both Head of Channel Four Drama and Controller of BBC Drama Production. In 2005 he created the BBC Writers Academy, a year-long in-depth training scheme which has produced a generation of successful television writers. He's also worked as Editor of The Archers. John is Visiting Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Brimmingly insightful ... fresh, enlightening and accessible ... a gripping read from beginning to end -- Robert Collins * Sunday Times * Terrifyingly clever ... Packed with intelligent argument * Evening Standard * So detailed and engaging is his methodology that any consumer of books, plays, TV or films will find the experience enhanced; and scriptwriters themselves will find useful guidance - because when you know the why, the how is natural -- Robert Epstein * Independent on Sunday * This is a marvellous analysis of screenwriting and, with any luck, should help a great many people achieve their dreams -- Julian Fellowes, writer/creator of Downton Abbey Another book on screenwriting! Oh, how I wanted to hate it! I didn't. I loved it. Much of it was fresh to me. And always interesting, always intelligent and, for a writer, always rewarding -- Jimmy McGovern, screenwriter, The Street and The Accused In an industry full of so called script gurus and snake oil salesmen, at last there's a book about story that treats writers like grown ups. This isn't about providing us with an ABC of story or telling us how to write a script by numbers. It's an intelligent evaluation into the very nature of storytelling and is the best book on the subject I've read. Quite brilliant -- Tony Jordan, screenwriter, Life on Mars and Hustle Even for a convinced sceptic, John Yorke's book, with its massive field of reference from Aristotle to Glee, and from Shakespeare to Spooks, is a highly persuasive and hugely enjoyable read. It would be hard to beat for information and wisdom about how and why stories are told -- Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director, The Globe Theatre This book is intelligent, well written, incisive and, most of all, exciting. It is the most important book about scriptwriting since William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade -- Peter Bowker, screenwriter, Blackpool, Occupation and Eric & Ernie Part 'How-to' manual, part 'why-to' celebration, Into The Woods is a wide-reaching and infectiously passionate exploration of storytelling in all its guises ... exciting and thought-provoking -- Emma Frost, screenwriter, The White Queen and Shameless Into The Woods is an amazing achievement. It has a real depth and understanding about story, a fantastically broad frame of reference and it's interesting and absorbing throughout. Full of incredibly useful insights, every TV writer should read the first chapter alone -- Simon Ashdown, series consultant, EastEnders Testing the adage that "in theory there's no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is", this is a love story to story -- erudite, witty and full of practical magic. It's by far the best book of its kind I've ever read. I struggle to think of the writer who wouldn't benefit from reading it -- even if they don't notice because they're too busy enjoying every page -- Neil Cross, creator/writer of Luther, Crossbones and writer of Dr Who, MI5 Books on story structure are ten a penny but Mistah Yorke's is the real deal -- Kathryn Flett All script-writers will want to read Into The Woods. All plots and archetypes BUSTED -- Caitlin Moran Got to say Into The Woods by John Yorke is marvellous. The prospect of another screenwriting book made me yawn, but its terrific ... It's a great read, wise and cogent, and a must for all screenwriters -- David Eldridge A mind-blower ... an incredibly dense but very readable tome about the art of storytelling ... Really worth a read -- Lenny Henry * The Independent * I don't always enjoy books on writing, but Into the Woods by John Yorke is brilliant on story structure. -- Ken Follett, author of 'The Pillars of the Earth' In his brimmingly insightful, stimulating study of how stories work, Yorke compellingly unpicks how a whole range of films, plays, novels and fairy tales all display the same archetypal structures . . . His book, in telling scores of stories in such a fresh, enlightening and accessible manner, is a gripping read from beginning to end * Sunday Times * The best book on the subject [of storytelling] I've read, tells us everything we need to know about it. Yorke's analysis is superb * London Evening Standard * A mightily impressive opus, both hugely informative and highly educational. I love the way it's populated with so many examples - the many combinations of both mass market and the slightly more esoteric giving a something-for-everyone feeling. A brilliant work -- Peter James, best-selling author of NOT DEAD ENOUGH and LOOKING GOOD DEAD Yorke sets out to analyse the patterns behind storytelling, explaining why the fundamentals of narrative have remained the same from Aristotle to Aaron Sorkin. A great starting point for anyone wanting to create a story * Stuff Magazine * I've just read a book about professional writing which has genuinely helped me. It's for those who are serious about avoiding bad 'How To' books and want to raise their game, and it's more intelligent than most of the others. John Yorke's Into The Woods: How Stories Work And Why We Tell Them is a genuine game-changer and has helped me put past bad habits to rest -- Christopher Fowler, Author of Bryant and May Into The Woods is utterly brilliant -- Ed Cumming * Daily Telegraph * Love storytelling? You need this inspiring book. John Yorke dissects the structure of stories with a joyous enthusiasm allied to precise, encyclopaedic knowledge. Guaranteed to send you back to your writing desk with newfound excitement and drive -- Chris Chibnall, creator and writer of Broadchurch and The Great Train Robbery Into The Woods is brilliant. One of the best books on script writing out there . . . I loved the book. Inspiring -- Dominic Mitchell, creator and writer of In The Flesh There is no end of books that instruct us on how to write the perfect screenplay, but few that delve more deeply into the art of storytelling than this erudite volume * Financial Times * Its strength is Yorke's acute perception of the wellsprings of universal narrative structures relevant to all artistic activities * The Times * Terrific . . . It's a great read, wise and cogent, and a must for all screenwriters -- David Eldridge, writer of Festen and In Basildon It's a great read. It makes me smile and say 'Yes!' aloud. Only this and PG Wodehouse do that -- Lucy Gannon, writer/creator of Soldier Soldier, Peak Practice, Frankie, The Best Of Men Not How 2 Write them but how stories work. John Yorke's Into the Woods: A 5 Act Journey into Story is brilliant, illuminates & explains -- Susan Hill, Author, The Woman In Black, I'm The King Of The Castle I'm only 70 pages into John Yorke's Into the Woods but it's already helped me crack two stories -- Andy Diggle, former editor of 2000AD, comic book writer for Marvel, DC Highly recommended reading * Huffington Post * Yorke is aware that the world is not suffering for lack of prescriptive screenwriting manuals. Instead, with Into the Woods, he takes a scalpel to narrative structure - dissecting protagonist, antagonist, inciting incident, crisis and so on - before asking how and why this underlying shape still holds audiences spellbound like a fairytale witch. "A story is like a magnet dragged through randomness," Yorke writes, but while he elegantly untangles the deepest roots of storytelling, he also honours the human need for truth and sense with some more superficial questions: why do series tend to "jump the shark" round about season three, for example, or why is clunky exposition - particularly in medical dramas - so appallingly comical? Sit comfortably, then begin * Guardian * I absolutely love this book. It's incredible and so well written. I keep trying to find fault but so far no joy - It's so good -- Matt Charman, writer Bridge of Spies (dir Stephen Spielberg); Black Work (ITV) [John Yorke's] writing book is arguably possibly almost as good as mine, all right it's loads better shut up -- David Quantick, Author of HOW TO WRITE EVERYTHING Probably, in the hackneyed phrase, "the last book on screenwriting you'll ever need." He is very good at debunking the claims of some screenwriting gurus, all of whom are busy trying to sell you their own particular brand of snake oil. It's truly excellent -- Tim Adler * Daily Telegraph * Of all the books I've read about story construction and the art of fiction, this one is the most comprehensive and concise -- John Collee, writer on 'Master And Commander', 'Happy Feet', 'Creation', 'Walking With Dinosaurs'
Brimmingly insightful ... fresh, enlightening and accessible ... a gripping read from beginning to end Robert Collins Sunday Times