BOOKS – 3 Reasons Why INVISIBLE INK Is a Must Buy For Storytellers
Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate by Brian McDonald is one of the best books on storytelling I’ve ever read.
I’ve read a few. Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’ll quickly sound off on the ones I’ve read. (some of the links in this post are affiliate links, thanks for your support):
There are plenty of other books on storytelling but most of them fall under the story theories presented in the books above.
As I’ve written before in other posts, so far my favorite story theory is the one put forth by Dramatica. Because of this, I’m going to be mentioning Dramatica quite a lot.
However, after reading Invisible Ink, I’ve found the perfect companion book to go along with it. Here’s what makes Invisible Ink so awesome:
3 Reasons Invisible Ink Rocks
1. It’s Simple
I cannot stress this enough, this story theory is dead simple. Especially since I’m such a fan of Dramatica (which is the most complicated story theory ever.) The story theory in this book is the most basic story theory I’ve ever read.
It’s the complete opposite of the Dramatic Theory.
In fact it’s “Rule #4” of Pixar’s 22 rules of Storytelling, according to Emma Coats:
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
Now, I don’t know which came first, the Pixar formula or if Pixar took it from Brian McDonald, but it’s awesome and easy to understand. Of course, the book then explains this structure a bit further.
All other theories seem to have far more steps in them then this.
It’s well worth understanding this one.
2. It’s Versatile
Most of the books on story I’ve read except for one, have always put forth the proposition that, for a story to work, the protagonist of the story should change by the time the story ends.
This has never made any sense to me since this it’s clearly not true. Most sitcoms don’t end this way, nor do many on going serialized superhero comics. Homer is still Homer by the end of an episode. Superman is still Superman by the end of his stories. James Bond is still the same guy he was by the end of his movies as he was at the start.
In fact, I even blame the Superhero movies that don’t work on the notion that writers aren’t taught how to write protagonists that DON’T change by the end of the story.
Until I’d read Invisible Ink, the only other story theory that addressed this directly was Dramatica.
Not only does Invisible Ink address this, it also encourages it and even gives examples of how to make stories work around the protagonist not changing.
This actually opens up the type of stories you can tell. You’re not stuck with only the one storytelling “formula” every other book I’ve read keeps trying to force you down.
Even though, Dramatica theory also took this into account, Invisible Ink really varies it up.
3. It Focuses On Theme
Okay, this is nothing new. To be quite honest, pretty much all the books I’ve read focus on theme at some level and in some way.
It’s not the fact that it focuses on theme that makes the book unique, it’s HOW it focuses on it. In fact, it is the “invisible ink,” the book is titled after.
I love this book. Forgive me for mentioning Dramatic theory so much in this review. It’s my favorite story theory. But I found that, in many many ways, Invisible Ink has managed to say and do many of the same things, in a much more digestible, easy to read package.
If I was to recommend a book on story theory to anyone, I’d point them to Invisible Ink first.