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Inside Story

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Inside Story

Inside Story
The Power of the Transformational Arc
By Dara Marks
Three Mountain Press: Studio City, CA (2007)
ISBN: 978-0-9788129-1-1
This book can be ordered directly from the Dara Marks website or from most online bookstores, such as

To learn more about Dara Marks, or to read an excerpt of this book, visit her website at

Reviewed by Harry S. Chou - December 21, 2017

How do you find the beating heart of your story, and how do you make that pulse felt throughout your story? Finding the core of your story, and giving your story depth, are two skills that can be hard to develop. For, as you move beyond the basic structure of your story, you move into a somewhat ethereal realm that cannot be easily defined and is even harder to describe in a step-step guide on storytelling. However, these are skills that can be learned, and Dara Marks has just made that task much easier with the publication of her book, Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc.

Inside Story is not a typical 'how-to' book. It does not offer formulas to follow, nor does it tell you what you must or must-not include in your stories. Rather it is a book that helps teach you the skills you need in order to identify the heart of your story, and then how to incorporate that heart (a.k.a. the theme) throughout every aspect of your story. Inside Story is also a sort of guide book, helping you to explore the key elements of storytelling. With this knowledge in hand, she sets you free to find your own way through the myriad of options when it comes to plotting, character development, and the like.

The book's writer, Dara Marks is a top ranked Hollywood script consultant. She is a respected teacher who hosts numerous screenwriting workshops and seminars around the country. She also has a doctorate in Mythic Studies, which gives her some unique, and very applicable insights into storytelling and character arcs. In writing Inside Story, she has harnessed her years of experience in the industry to teach both new and seasoned writers some of the tricks of the trade. In the process, she provided guidance, and some keen insights, on some of the key elements that you need to master in order to write compelling screenplays or any other work of fiction.

So you ask, "What is this book about?" The short version is that this book will help you to identify the underlying theme of your story, and to build upon that theme to create a unified and engrossing story that propels your plot forward, defines your characters, and gives depth and emotion to your story. This book takes the very complicated subject of screenwriting, and storytelling in general, and breaks it down into its core components and it teaches you how become a better storyteller. Basically, she helps teach you how to craft a powerful and structurally sound screenplay, while also maintaining your artistic integrity.

The long-version answer to the question, "What is this book about?" is that Inside Story is a book that helps you to identify the emotional underpinnings of your story. As Marks says in the book's introduction, "In effect, it is a second line of structure that is wrapped within the structure of the plot. It is, quite literally, the story that is found inside story. Once you learn to identify and use this inner story, your story will, by default, gain more depth, your characters will become multidimensional, and your story will have a greater emotional resonance with the audience. The framework of this book is built around the idea of a transformational arc, and throughout, readers are provided with new insights into story structure and development. The long and short of it, is simply that Inside Story is essential reading for anyone considering writing a screenplay, novel, or other work of fiction. Read this book first, and you'll get to skip a lot of trial-and-error activities that you might otherwise have had to go through as part of your writer's journey. If you have already written a draft of your story, read this book before embarking on your rewrite. As important, if you have already completed your project, read this book before starting your next one. No matter how skilled a writer you are, this book is bound to offer you some new perspectives on storytelling!

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