The Key

How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth

James N. Frey

St. Martin's Press

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In his widely read guides How to Write a Damn Good Novel and How to Write a Damn Good Novel II: Advanced Techniques, popular novelist and fiction-writing coach James N. Frey showed tens of thousands of writers how--starting with rounded, living, breathing, dynamic characters--to structure a novel that sustains its tension and development and ends in a satisfying, dramatic climax.

Now, in The Key, Frey takes his no-nonsense, "Damn Good" approach and applies it to Joseph Campbell's insights into the universal structure of myths. Myths, says Frey, are the basis of all storytelling, and their structures and motifs are just as powerful for contemporary writers as they were for Homer. Frey begins with the qualities found in mythic heros--ancient and modern--such as the hero's special talent, his or her wound, status as an "outlaw," and so on. He then demonstrates how the hero is initiated--sent on a mission, forced to learn the new rules, tested, and suffers a symbolic death and rebirth--before he or she can return home. Using dozens of classical and contemporary novels and films as models, Frey shows how these motifs and forms work their powerful magic on the reader's imagination.

The Key is designed as a practical step-by-step guide for fiction writers and screen writers who want to shape their own ideas into a mythic story.


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The Key
1The Awesome Power of MythThe Storyteller's MagicAs a storyteller, you practice a kind of magic, the most powerful magic on earth. You are a mythopoet, a maker of myth, and it is myth that consciously and subconsciously guides every human being on this planet, for good or ill.Bunk, you say. Myths are old and dead and have no meaning to modern man.Better think again.Think about communism and its mythology. One-fourth of the people on earth still live under communism, despite the recent changes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

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Reviews

Praise for The Key

"You could struggle through learning the basics of storytelling by trial anbd error or you could just read this book. I wish I had this fifteen years ago."—Sara Pariott, screenwriter for The Runaway Bride

"For me, the mythological approach has indeed been the key to creating stories that have a far greater impact on the reader than anything I'd written before."—Tess Collins, author of The Law of Blood and The Law of Revenge

"Well-written and witty how-to."—Library Journal

"Everything I know about plotting a novel, I learned from Frey."—Marjorie Reynolds, author of The Starlite Drive-In

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About the Author

James N. Frey

James N. Frey is the author of two internationally best-selling books on the craft of fiction writing, How to Write a Damn Good Novel and How to Write a Damn Good Novel II: Advanced Techniques, as well as nine novels. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Extension, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Oregon Writers' Colony, and he is a featured speaker at writers' conferences throughout the United States and in Europe. He lives with his--he says, "truly heroic"--wife, Liza, in Berkeley, California.

James N. Frey

Elizabeth Frey
James N. Frey

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Key
How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth
James N. Frey

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
August 2002
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429932288
ISBN10: 1429932287
272 pages
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
August 2002
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312300524
ISBN10: 0312300522
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 272 pages
$17.99
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