Synopses & Reviews
18 Academy Awards...107 Emmy Awards...19 Writers Guild of America Awards...16 Directors Guild of America Awards...Plus, hundreds of nominations...
For the first time in book form, Robert McKee's Story reveals the award-winning methods of the man universally regarded as the world's premier screenwriting teacher.
For more than seventeen years, Robert McKee's students have been taking Hollywood's top honors. His Story Structure seminar is the ultimate class for screenwriters and filmmakers, playing to packed auditoriums across the world and boasting more than 35,000 graduates. With Hollywood currently paying record sums for great stories and audiences clamoring for originality this book is the weapon you need to win the war on cliches and to get your story from page to screen.
Unlike other popular approaches to screenwriting, Story is about form, not formula. Employing examples from more than one hundred films, McKee imparts a philosophy that reaches beyond rigid rules to identify the more elusive components that distinguish quality stories from the rest of the pack. Beginning with basic definitions (What is a beat? A scene? A scene sequence? An act climax? A film climax?), McKee not only brilliantly unravels the mysteries of standard three-act dramatic structures but also demystifies atypical structures such as two-act, seven-act, and even eight-act films, exposing the limitations of each genre; spotlighting the importance of theme, setting, and atmosphere; and highlighting the importance of character versus characterization.
But this book goes well beyond the essential mechanics of screenwriting. From concept through final manuscript, Story elevates writing from an intellectual exercise to an emotional one, transforming the craft of screenwriting into an art form by carefully exploring the subtler considerations at work in film, such as the nature of irony and the symbolic power of image systems. Packed with examples from such film classics as Casablanca and Chinatown, McKee expertly dissects classic scenes, guiding us step-by-step as only he can to reveal not only how a scene works but why it works, getting beyond the fundamentals of composition to the enduring values and conflicts that separate the classics from the cliches.
This insightful, practical book has become the gospel for screenwriters everywhere. Hollywood studios don't buy great ideas they buy great stories that can capture an audience's imagination. And no one has helped more writers turn great ideas into great screenplays than Robert McKee.
"[McKee] is a tireless speaker, knowledgeable and passionate....No matter what continent you live on, if you look outside and see a group of writers or movie nuts gathering, probably Robert McKee is in town." William Goldman, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of All the President's Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
"Knowledge of story design is just as vital for the novelist as it is for the screenwriter. No one imparts this wisdom like Robert McKee. He is not only the best teacher of writing I've ever had, but the best teacher of anything." Steve Pressfield, author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and Gates of Fire
"Robert McKee's course helped me enormously. Every writer, actor, producer, and director should take it." Kirk Douglas
"An internationally acclaimed teacher of the story-writing art, McKee maintains a whirlwind schedule...giving his near-legendary Story seminars worldwide." Washington Post
Robert McKee's screenwriting workshops have earned him an international reputation for inspiring novices, refining works in progress and putting major screenwriting careers back on track. Quincy Jones, Diane Keaton, Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, John Cleese and David Bowie are just a few of his celebrity alumni. Writers, producers, development executives and agents all flock to his lecture series, praising it as a mesmerizing and intense learning experience.
In Story, McKee expands on the concepts he teaches in his $450 seminars (considered a must by industry insiders), providing readers with the most comprehensive, integrated explanation of the craft of writing for the screen. No one better understands how all the elements of a screenplay fit together, and no one is better qualified to explain the "magic" of story construction and the relationship between structure and character than Robert McKee.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 421-422) and index. Filmography: p.423-455.
About the Author
Robert McKee teaches his "Story Structure" class annually to sold out auditoriums in Los Angeles, New York, London, and film capitals throughout the world. A Fulbright Scholar, this award-winning film and television writer has also served as project and talent development consultant to major production companies such as Tri-Star and Golden Harvest Films. He lives in Los Angeles and Cornwall, England.
Table of Contents
Notes on the Text xi
PART 1: THE WRITER AND THE ART OF STORY 3
1: The Story Problem 11
PART 2: THE ELEMENTS OF STORY 31
2: The Structure Spectrum 31
3. Structure and Setting 67
4. Structure and Genre 79
5. Structure and Character 100
6. Structure and Meaning 110
PART 3: THE PRINCIPLES OF STORY DESIGN 135
7: The Substance of Story 135
8: The Inciting Incident 181
9: Act Design 208
10: Scene Design 233
11: Scene Analysis 252
12: Composition 288
13: Crisis, Climax, Resolution 303
PART 4: THE WRITER AT WORK 317
14: The Principle of Antagonism 317
15: Exposition 334
16: Problems and Solutions 346
17: Character 374
18: The Text 388
19: A Writer's Method 410
Suggested Readings 421