I finished reading The Anatomy of Story and put together some notes for other screenwriters (The full notes are at https://kiingo.co/anatomy-of-story).
Here's the gist:
- A story's moral argument, or theme, is the exploration and consequent answer(s) to the question, "What's the proper way to live in this world?"
- Every character is a manifestation of a different argument for or against the story's theme. In this way, characters grow out of theme.
- Through desire, characters drive plot, thus making plot a second order manifestation of theme.
- The "22 Steps" are elements and stages usually found in the process of seeking a goal (i.e. the hero's desire).
- Structure is content. Theme should be expressed structurally--through story, rather than by story.
- A story must at a minimum consist of 7 elements: Weakness and Need, Desire, Opponent, Plan, Battle, Self-Revelation, New Equilibrium.
- Character values can be highlighted and accentuated by contrast with other opposing characters. Truby recommends the use of "four-corner opposition" to lay out a web of a hero and three opponents who all take fundamentally different approaches to the story's theme.
- A symbol is an image or idea that gains meaning through repeated use and differing context. Symbols can be representations of larger ideas, characters, structures, or themes.
- Story worlds can function as physical representations of a character's current stage in their overall inner journey.
- Revelations must be logical, must build in intensity, and must come at an increasing pace.
- Conflict is not the clashing of two personalities, but rather of two opposing sets of beliefs.
- The end of the scene is the point of the scene and thus should end with a keyword or line that gets at the purpose of the scene.