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Invisible Ink

A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate
Narrated by: Matt Armstrong
Length: 3 hrs and 33 mins
5 out of 5 stars (274 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed by successful screenwriters and authors, Invisible Ink is a helpful, accessible guide to the essential elements of the best storytelling.

Brian McDonald, an award winning screenwriter who has taught his craft at several major studios, supplies writers with tools to make their work more effective and provides readers and audiences a deeper understanding of the storyteller's art.

When people think of a screenplay, they usually think about dialogue-the "visible ink" that is readily accessible to the listener, reader, or viewer. But a successful screenplay needs Invisible Ink as well, the craft below the surface of words. Invisible Ink lays out the essential elements of screenplay structure, using vivid examples from famous moments in popular movies as well as from one of his own popular scripts. You will learn techniques for building a compelling story around a theme, making your writing engage audiences, creating appealing characters, and much more.

©2010 Brian McDonald (P)2013 Open Book Audio

Critic Reviews

“...If I manage to reach the summit of my next story it will be in no small part due to having read Invisible Ink.” (Andrew Stanton, cowriter Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., and cowriter/director Finding Nemo and WALL-E)
“...Brian McDonald uses his deep understanding of story and character to pass on essential truths about dramatic writing. Ignore him at your peril.” (Jim Taylor, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Sideways and Election)
“... I recommend this fine handbook on craft to any writer, apprentice or professional, working in any genre or form.” (Dr. Charles Johnson, National Book Award-winning author of Middle Passage)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Wonderfully succinct!

What about Matt Armstrong’s performance did you like?

His voice didn't get in the way of the information, which is the most that can be asked considering the book is non-fiction. There were a few dramatic opportunities, and they were done well.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Such a great book for anyone interested in learning about writing in general, and screenwriting or writing for graphic novels in particular. I'm an professional storyboard and comic artist that has many "story ideas" but has always been far too aware of my own lack of understanding of writing to actually bring those ideas to fruition. After listening to Mcdonald break down what makes a successful story, I already feel more aware of how to construct a successful story. Highly recommended!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Do yourself a favor… Download and listen repeatedly!

I have a listened to this audiobook from beginning to end seven or eight times so far. If you enjoy stories, and who doesn't, this book will help you understand and appreciate the fine art of story creation and will even help you enjoy books, movies, plays and many other vehicles of drama for the rest of your life. If you are interested in the power of stories to convey emotion that engages audiences of all types, this is a must read. I chose this book to help convey the mission and purpose of a tech start up business to investors, employees and customers. I will also use the tools and principles learned here when I retire and write a book series of the very stories I used to tell my children at that bedtime.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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nice

Good guide to constructing narratives that work. Narrator does good job with the various film and book excerpts he's given

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"Here me out guys, I swear I'm not sexist but...."

First off, I'm going to say that there is useful information in this book. The author analyzed a lot of stories and broke down what the themes and messages were and how they were amplified in the writing and I would love to re-listen to those parts since I found them the most fascinating and helpful.

Secondly, as passive aggressive as my headline for my review is I'm not really all that mad and I'm just being a nitpicker. But I feel like it was entirely unnecessary for the author to divide things as "masculine vs. feminine" frames of mind when essentially it was just "action vs. emotion." The author has hints of it towards the first half but in the second half there's a whole lot of time establishing that there needs to be a "Balance of feminine and masculine narratives" and explaining the author's views on genders and how it relates to his system for writing meaningful stories.

It went like, "I'm not sexist but those that prefer a more emotional driven plot-line compared to an entirely action driven plot-line tend to be women. And vice versa for men. But, oh I don't mean to say ALL men and women follow that preference. I just meant MOST of them do." And there was a lot of delving into that and expressing his views on gender and trying to cycle it back to how to write towards the last hour of the book in a way that just made me wince. So if that's something that you're sensitive to, then you might not want to waste your time on the last third of this book.

All those viewpoints were to just simply explain that stories need to be balanced with both their action and emotion and tipping the scale too much just leads to alienating those who prefer one or the other the most.

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Great book!

Very insightful. The book basically lays out the real meat of story creation, we're to focus and what not to do. I know I'll keep coming back to this for guidance whenever I need to write.

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Wonderful

For me , this book appears to be a huge missing link in my writing. So grateful. When you have been trained to be cleaver, it can be difficult to forsake it for clarity and simplicity. Thanks Brian for helping me see what it was that while right in front of my face, I was missing all along.

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Amazing!!!<br />

This is hands down one of the top 5 books on story you'll ever read. Easy to understand but extremely potent! Get it now now now!

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well read, amazing information

this book is about story. Not screen writing, character building, but story. the element that encompasses everything. it's amazing, and I highly highly recommend for any story teller of any medium or any craft.

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A book about story structure that runs too long

The first part of five or six chapters of Invisible Ink are a fascinating and insightful look at the secrets of crafting compelling narratives. Unfortunately it quickly looses steam after that, becoming too obsessed with proving it's own theories and going back to the same stories for examples again and again. We get it, Jaws and E.T. are great movies, but there are lots of other sources for great structure out there. contrary to what the author says in this book the problem with the third act does not lie in the first act in this particular case. The problem is that we already know everything that the third act tries to reveal to us as readers.

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Good book and well narrated

A rare combination of a great book, very well performed! A must for spring writers.

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  • Julius
  • 10-16-15

If only there were more :(

This book gave much better understanding of story and its inner cog wheels and how it works and why. It gives me confidence to try write the story in an English language by being a foreigners. I was even shy to try it now I know all the basics and happy to give a shot :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Estrela Lourenco
  • 04-16-18

love how easy it is to listen this book!

A lot of things made sense and were brought down to the basics so beginners like me understand why we have the need to tell stories and how to tell them the best way we can!

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  • Rosek
  • 12-15-17

One of the best!

This is still one of the best books out there for storytelling. The narration is also great and lively.