The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
"The Nutshell Technique cracks the code behind why we love the movies that we love. It guides you to organically write the story you want to tell." (Callum Greene, producer, Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker)
Veteran script consultant Jill Chamberlain discovered in her work that an astounding 99 percent of first-time screenwriters don't know how to tell a story. What the 99 percent do instead is present a situation. In order to explain the difference, Chamberlain created the nutshell technique, a method whereby writers identify eight dynamic, interconnected elements that are required to successfully tell a story.
Now, for the first time, Chamberlain presents her unique method in audiobook form with The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting. Using easy-to-follow descriptions ("nutshells"), she thoroughly explains how the nutshell technique can make or break a film script. Chamberlain takes listeners step-by-step through 30 classic and contemporary movies, showing how such dissimilar screenplays as Casablanca, Chinatown, Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Silver Linings Playbook, and Argo all have the same system working behind the scenes, and she teaches listeners exactly how to apply these principles to their own screenwriting. Learn the nutshell technique, and you'll discover how to turn a mere situation into a truly compelling screenplay story.
Since its publication in 2016, The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting was an instant classic. It is the go-to manual many professionals swear by, and it's on the syllabus at film schools across the world, including the world-renowned screenwriting program at Columbia University. It has also been published in Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Italian. This audio edition is wonderfully narrated by Sonja Field.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 21 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||July 21, 2020|
|Publisher||Echo Point Books & Media, LLC|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #25,857 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#11 in Screenwriting (Audible Books & Originals)
#64 in Screenwriting (Books)
#953 in Performing Arts (Books)
Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2020
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Top reviews from the United States
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The author obviously is padding what should have been a book a third as long, going round and round in circles, repeating things constantly, explaining the same point repeatedly and with almost the same wording, to such an extent turning pages in order to find a specific point in the text is cumbersome; “did I read this already, or is she just restating the same point yet again?”
If the author is reading this — practically every person who’s going to buy this book is already aware of the three acts, at which proportional percentages the two main plot points are placed, etc, so constantly encountering passages and parentheses explaining this is extremely annoying. I also dislike how fellow storytelling teachers are all but dismissed by this author.
HOWEVER, I think this author does deliver a truly insightful and effective and NEW approach to story structure, and in future I WILL be using the nutshell technique to map out my stories’ foundational structure, after which I will turn to my favorite storytelling tool chest: the books of Robert McKee.
I strongly urge the publisher to reissue this book as a much shorter and tightly written text. Such an edition I would gladly give five stars.
I’ve read the following books on story structure – screenplay and novel:
Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby
5 Secrets of Story Structure: How to Write a Novel That Stands Out (Helping Writers Become Authors Book 6) by K.M. Weiland
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K. M. Weiland
Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story by James Scott Bell
Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell
I am a big fan of each book for different reasons but if I was to make a suggestion to anyone looking to buy a book on story structure buy Jill’s book first. Each of the other titles I’ve listed are great in supplementing the Nutshell technique but they do not provide a replacement for it. Truby, Snyder, Mckee, Weiland, Bell all propose a series of beats or events that must happen in your story for it to be successful. Each event can contribute to a very compelling story but the problem with this approach is that each of these events are unrelated. Each event just happens in the succession of the last without a direct cause and effect relationship between each beat. The lack of correlation with this formulaic approach, can and often does with inexperienced writers, result in a “situation” and not a story. Our lives are great examples of situations; events happen, one after the other, without the necessity for cause and effect. However a day in the life of the average person hardly makes for a compelling story. What Jill gives us is a cohesive framework to work with, where each element is interdependent and the relationship between these elements help to forge a link between character and plot development. Unlike other books, this book doesn’t present character arcs in the abstract. The Nutshell technique not only ties character development to particular points in the plot arc but it also gives us the “why” necessary for us to believe each event must happen. The end result of a story compiled from the elements of the nutshell technique is a far more compelling story than one that would be told using only the cookie cutter methods that some authors propose.
In summary read the other books, they are all brilliant and I believe each will help you write a better story, but make sure you read this book first.
Yet, despite the over-production of screenwriting theory books, there are some truly new and innovative books and theories out there. One of the best to come along in a long time is Jill Chamberlain's The Nutshell Technique. The book identifies eight interconnected elements required to tell a successful story. Interestingly, the book does not take up the trend to add and own more steps in screenplay structure but harkens back to the old three-step drama sequence of Aristotle and his modern incarnation in Syd Field.
Rather than proceed down a linear path in creating a story, Chamberlain (a script doctor, story consultant and coach) tells readers not to begin at the usual set-up but rather at what she calls "the point of no return." This is the event at the end of the first act that moves the story into the second act. No, this point is not the traditional "inciting" incident but something much more powerful in that the "point of no return" comes with a "catch" that sets up the second act and really the entire screenplay. In brief, the "point of no return" gives the protagonist what he/she wants in the opening of the screenplay but with a "catch" to this want.
For example, consider the film Tootsie. The "set-up want" of the protagonist (Dustin Hoffman) is a job and the "point of no return" is that he is offered a job in an opera role. The "catch" though is that he must pretend to be a woman. One of the (few) accepted principles of screenwriting is that the protagonist needs to start with some "flaw" at the beginning of the story that will become a "strength" (or not) at the end of the story. The flaw of the Tootsie protagonist is that he doesn't respect woman. The purpose of the "catch" is to test this beginning character "flaw" and do battle with it through the second act arriving at a new "strength" in his respect for women in act three.
Unlike most other screenwriting books and theories, The Nutshell Technique offers a visual view of this theory with little footsteps of the protagonist's story journey. It is almost like a board game where players go to different boxes. The boxes are blank for the screenwriter to fill in. The book explains how to fill in the boxes. Chamberlain offers two types of boxes: one for comedy and one for tragedy. But they're not the same idea one usually has of comedy and tragedy. Comedy is defined where a flaw at the beginning becomes a strength at the end and tragedy defined where a flaw at the beginning becomes a worse flaw at the end. The book offers thirty examples of the technique from leading films. The "comedy" diagram for Pulp Fiction and the "tragedy" diagram for The Social Network are shown below.
Are Hollywood's concerns that they are not telling the right types of stories a valid concern? And, if so, might the problem be located in the segmentation of screenwriting theory today? If the problem is fragmentation of story-telling techniques and methods, then Jill Chamberlain's The Nutshell Technique offers something new that doesn't add another theory to the theory heap in Hollywood. Rather, it allows screenwriters to see that old three-act structure in a totally new way. One is reminded of a famous quote from Proust. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” So it is with screenwriting. Chamberlains important book does not seek new screenwriting landscapes as much as it attempts to provide new "eyes" to screenwriters to see the old three-act story landscape in new ways.
Top reviews from other countries
The book does not push you in to any structure, in fact by keeping the points to follow very (big picture) view, you end up focusing on the strongest most important parts of your story and this frees you up to write much more creatively. The nutshell technique is there to help you make your story a better story. Im using it now on my feature screenplay. I was finding things tough before, as my protagonist is a 13 year old boy, but by using the book I am making much more progress.
Good luck with your writing.. Mark. :)
But Jill Chamberlain repeats herself (sometimes word for word). A shorter, tighter book would have been even better.