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Publisher's Summary

The Secrets of Story is a revolutionary and comprehensive writing guide for the 21st century, focused on clever ways to get an audience to fully identify with an all-too-human hero. Authors will learn to how to cut through pop culture noise and win over a jaded modern audience by rediscovering the heart of writing: shaping stories that ring true to our shared understanding of human nature. Providing conversational advice that spans multiple disciplines - from fiction to film to creative nonfiction - Matt Bird's insightful techniques allow characters to come alive and stories to reach a new level of appeal.

©2016 Matt Bird (P)2016 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars

I want this guy to be my editor

I hesitated to download this book since it had only 15 reviews which made me wary of artificial ratings. Much to my surprise I soon realized this book is an absolute treasure. I spend most of this past year (I am very serious about getting this right) consuming writer's resources hoping to find a few gems. I rank this book near the top along with McKee's "Story", Stein's "on writing", and Swain's "Techniques..". For the first time I am considering hiring an editor for my novel and if I do it will be Matt Bird. Thank you, Mr. Bird, for the effort you put into this work. It is an immense help to me.
- Charles Dunn 01/2017

44 of 47 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Best book on writing ever! A comprehensive effort

This will be my number one recommended book to my writer friends to novices and old hacks.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • aaron
  • los angeles, CA, United States
  • 11-07-16

The most important screenwriting book on Audible!

I had no idea who this guy was until I bought this book. Now, I'm convinced he's one of the most knowledgeable people in the screenwriting biz. Much of the stuff he touches on, I learned at a certain west coast school's MFA program, but I ended up paying a helluva lot more for that education than I did for this book!! Also, it's nice to have everything all neat and clean in a tidy package like this.

Anyone writing a screenplay, no matter what level you're at, would be well-served in listening to this audiobook.

And that is all. Time to write.

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 05-26-17

Good Story Impossible? 'Au Contraire'!

Forget about what you've read in other writing books--Matt Bird goes for the unconventional, the counter-intuitive. From books to films, he uses great examples that will help you craft outstanding stories. I consider myself a writer, not screenwriter, and I found "The Secrets of Story" to be amazingly useful. He addresses myths in-depth, and tackles how-to, all in the one go of the book.
Perhaps you know him best from his blog, "The Cockeyed Caravan". If you do, you'll recognize The Ultimate Story Checklist and will appreciate it here, where it's dived into and where it appears as the Appendix. You can go to his blog also and download it there for free, but boy did I enjoy having it expanded upon. Perhaps you'll also recognize his delightful sense of humor, of irony (and if you don't have irony in your life, in your story, you're wasting everybody's time!).
What you'll learn most is how to write to an audience. This does NOT mean pandering or writing to the market, but it does mean people will actually read/see your work and will walk away with a sense of satisfaction and perhaps even joy.
I haven't learned this much even from Robert McKee's works on story and dialogue. And forgive me if it's blasphemy, but I was far more thrilled with "The Secrets of Story" than I was with Stephen King's seminal work, "On Writing". Don't get me wrong: you'll probably want both.
But if I had to choose? I'd choose this one, hands down.

63 of 71 people found this review helpful

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  • Dax
  • New York
  • 03-21-17

Must Read for Story

An amazing book ever student and writer must read. The author does a great job articulating concepts not mentioned in other such story books and has up to date (2016) references.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Valuable resource with good insight

In my desire to be a writer I have read many books on how to write, how to build characters etc etc.
This is actually the first book that Supplied enough information to make the time spent reading/listening to it worthwhile.
Mr. Bird gave great advice and broke down a lot of the details into smaller and more understandable chunks of information.
I was actually beginning to lose hope that I would find a book that is so useful.
I have already read this book twice and I intend to keep reading it until everything sinks in to my thick cranium.
I would definitely recommend this book and say that it's worth every penny.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Thorough book on ideas for better writing

Matt Bird has an MFA from Columbia and has been working as a screenplay writer since then. In this book he tries to capsulize what he learned after Columbia as well as some of the things from Columbia he had to reject once he began his career.

This book is filled with interesting advice using real world examples, both from Bird's own experiences along with some notable and expensive Hollywood failures from a variety of writers. The focus of the book rarely crosses out of film into novels and stories, but there's a lot to be said for using the condensed limits of a film script as a guide for working in longer and non-visual forms.

Bird presents ideas on getting attention at the start, setting mood, creating realistic dialogue, taking feedback or notes from other writers (or directors/producers if that's your focus), rewriting, building tension, and, most importantly for Bird, creating characters the reader/viewer will care about and why that's different from having a character who's likeable.

With his focus on film he uses examples from film, most of them familiar, as examples for his ideas. If you are a fan of film this makes the book easy to relate to, there were hardly any movies used with which I wasn't familiar. If you're not a great moviegoer you might have more trouble seeing things as Bird does.

I can see this book as being a worthwhile guide and inspiration for someone just starting as a writer. I can also see it helping a writer lost in the deep woods with a story, novel, or screenplay to help them sort out why something didn't click or why a piece isn't selling. There are plenty of new angles provided for looking at a work, even a 120 item checklist at the end, to review characters, plot, pacing, dialogue, story arc, and writing a satisfying ending.

As of this writing the book is #25 at Amazon in the Kindle writing skills category and in the top 100 for printed books in that category. As a reader and only sometimes writer I can only hope that this means better writing is on the way from those reading the book. I doubt it, but I can remain hopeful. My feeling is that most writers improve by reading more and better writing from others, but even then a book like this can add a lot of clarity on what makes some writing better than others.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • RaR
  • austin, tx United States
  • 05-02-17

Great info and new take on writing

Great information and look at writing. Caters mostly to screenwriting as 99% of examples are from movies. Still good points made for any writer, however. Not sure if it's the author or the narrator, but sounds so condescending.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Best Book on Fiction I've Read So Far

Sorry, this book is so complete and simple at the same time so thorough I would have to write all morning. You will be happy to have discovered it.

15 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Probably better in print

This is a pretty good book about screenwriting, and it's better-written than most. I also appreciate that the author has a sense of humor and isn't too full of himself.

However, since it's basically a "how to" book, it's more useful in print form. I gave up on the Audible version after 5 chapters.

22 of 30 people found this review helpful