- Series: Methuen Film
- Paperback: 466 pages
- Publisher: Methuen Publishing; Reprint. edition (November 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0413715604
- ISBN-13: 978-0413715609
- Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 589 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (Methuen Film) Paperback – November 1, 2005
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Out of a dozen or so books on writing, I found McKee's "Story" thoroughly enlightening.
It can be a challenge to comprehend in places - but worth the extra effort!
In terms of characters driving narrative, review chapter 7 and examine writing w/in "the gap".
I found it easier to grasp McKee by writing one paragraph summaries of each chapter as I progressed.
It may be helpful to think of each chapter as a separate vignette of knowledge.
I suggest reading the chapters in this order: 1-3, 8, 4, 7, 5-6, 15, 9, 10-11, 14, 18, 12-13, 16-17
(the above order was suggested to me in fact by L.S.)
Also, try reading "Save the Cat", contrast/compare w/ "Story" and refer to the "Bible" by Trottier.
On a side note, the slip cover is absolutely awful. Throw it away.
The hardcover book w/out the slip cover is a tasteful blue-purple w/ STORY and McKee in gold print.
(see attached photo)
His bias against the avant-garde was shocking to me at first and it took time to get past that, but I forgave him. He does include meta and anti-novel type structures, at least.
I recommend this book to my fiction students all the time. What a gem.
The discipline to write is NOT taught in this book, so it's not going to make you a better screenwriter. Only trail and error can do that.
McKee's seminal text can do is help you focus and give structure to how you compile your screenplay; his central notion that plot is character and character is plot (although he's not the first to suggest this) is the heart of what he's conveying, and you can learn from this or whole-heartedly disagree. Unfortunately, no one really cares about that debate; what they care about is: can you write a compelling and engaging screenplay. Don't bore us, surprise us when and where you can, but learn to tell us a satisfying story that resonates.
Otherwise, you fail.
This book is sort of like a riveting coach for a Division One NCAA athlete; although, you better have some raw ability to begin with, otherwise, what are you doing?
The way this book is broken down and its terminology is helpful for any writer's journey, but it's not a panacea or quick-fix, as McKee is points out, writing is hard work and if you're not willing to be in the chair time and time observing life, then nothing in here is going to solve any mysteries you might think there are to success in the film industry.