Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. Read online, or download in secure EPUB format. 3 4 ♢ ROBERT MCKEE Story is about archetypes, not stereotypes. The archetypal story unearths a universally human experience, then wraps itself inside a. Robert McKee - Story (PDF) - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online. Storytelling.

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Editorial Reviews. Review. Writing for the screen is quirky business. A writer must Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting - site edition by Robert McKee. Download it eBook features: Highlight. Robert McKee é um acadêmico especializado em roteiros para o cinema. Em Story, McKee expande os conceitos de seus seminários de $ Read "Story Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting" by Robert McKee available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today.

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Robert McKee - Story (PDF)

Order By: In stock online Available in stores. 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.

The long-awaited follow-up to the perennially bestselling writers' guide Story, from the most sought-after expert in the art of storytelling. Robert McKee's popular writing workshops have earned him an international reputation.

The list of alumni with Oscars…. Robert McKee's popular writing workshops have earned him an…. Negotiable Instruments: Out of stock online Not available in stores. Kobo ebook.

Available for download Not available in stores. Out Of The Darkness: Large Print by Robert McKee. Ships within weeks Not available in stores. It is a story of technology and its place in society. The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby John Truby shares his screenwriting secrets in this book that outlines 22 steps to becoming a master storyteller.

The book pulls from philosophy and mythology, while providing fresh techniques and anecdotes that are quite insightful. He has a unique approach to effective storytelling. Learn the best way to structure your screenplay with this free guide. It picks up where they left off and travels straight to the heart of storytelling. John Yorke not only shows us there is a narrative that echoes from deep within, he explains why. He uses examples from fairy tales to The Godfather to Mad Men to express his philosophy, and even utilizes Shakespearean five-act structure.

Dia- logue's so tangled Olivier couldn't get his tongue around it.

Descriptions are stuffid with camera directions, subtextural expla- nations, and philosophical commentary. It's not even typed in the properformat. Obviously not a professional writer. Ifl'd written this report, I'd have lost my job. The sign on the door doesn't read "Dialogue Department" or "Description Department. A reader who can't grasp this fundamental deserves to be fired. It's surprisingly rare, in fact, to More often than not, the better the storytelling, the more vivid the images, the sharper the dialogue.

But lack of progression, false motivation, redundant characters, empty subtext, holes, and other such story problems are the root causes ofa bland, boring text. Literary talent is not enough. Ifyou cannot tell a story, all those beautiful images and subtleties of dialogue that you spent months and months perfecting waste the paper they're written on.

What we create for the world, what it demands of us, is story. Now and for- ever. Countless writers lavish dressy dialogue and manicured descriptions on anorexic yarns and wonder why their scripts never see production, while others with modest literary talent but great storytelling power have the deep pleasure ofwatching their dreams living in the light ofthe screen.

Of the total creative effort represented in a finished work, 75 percent or more of a writer's labor goes into designing story. Who are these characters?

Robert Mckee

What do they want? Why do they want it? How do they go about getting it?

What stops them? What are the consequences? Finding the answers to these grand questions and shaping them into story is our overwhelming creative task. Designing story tests the maturity and insight of the writer, his knowledge of society, nature, and the human heart.

Story demands both vivid imagination and powerful analytic thought. Self-expression is never an issue, for, wittingly or unwittingly, all stories, honest and dishonest, wise and foolish, faithfully mirror their maker, exposing his humanity Compared to this terror, writing dialogue is a sweet diversion. So the writer embraces the principle, Tell Story For what is story?

The idea of story is like the idea of music. We've heard tunes all our lives.

We can dance and sing along. We think we understand music until we try to compose it and what comes out ofthe piano scares the cat. But if we look deeply, if we strip away the surface, we find that at heart all are the same thing. Each is an embodiment of the uni- versal form of story. Each articulates this form to the screen in a unique way, but in each the essential form is identical, and it is to this deep form that the audience is responding when it reacts with, "What a good story!

From sym- phony to hip-hop, the underlying form of music makes a piece music and not noise. Whether representational or abstract, the car- dinal principles of visual art make a canvas a painting, not a doodle. Equally, from Homer to Ingmar Bergman, the universal form of story shapes a work into story, not portraiture or collage.

Across all cultures and through all ages, this innate form has been endlessly variable but changeless. Yet form does not mean 'formula. Story is far too rich in mystery, complexity, and flexibility to be reduced to a formula.

Only a fool would try. Rather, a writer must grasp story form. This is inescapable. Finding this is your lonely task. It begins with talent.

You Then you must bring to the work a vision that's driven by fresh insights into human nature and society, coupled with in-depth knowledge of your characters and your world. All that The love of story-the belief that your vision can be expressed only through story, that characters can be more "real" than people, that the fictional world is more profound than the concrete. The love of the dramatic-a fascination with the sudden surprises and reve- lations that bring sea-changes in life.

The love of truth-the belief that lies cripple the artist, that every truth in life must be ques- tioned, down to one's own secret motives. The love of humanity-a willingness to empathize with suffering souls, to crawl inside their skins and see the world through their eyes. The love of sensation- the desire to indulge not only the physical but the inner senses.

The love of dreaming-the pleasure in taking leisurely rides on your imagination just to see where it leads. The love of humor-a joy in the saving grace that restores the balance of life. The love of lan- guage-the delight in sound and sense, syntax and semantics. The love ofduality-a feel for life's hidden contradictions, a healthy sus- picion that things are not what they seem.

The love of perfection- the passion to write and rewrite in pursuit of the perfect moment. The love of uniqueness-the thrill of audacity and a stone-faced calm when it is met by ridicule. The love of beauty-an innate sense that treasures good writing, hates bad writing, and knows the difference. The love of self-a strength that doesn't need to be con- stantly reassured, that never doubts that you are indeed a writer.

You must love to write and bear the loneliness. But the love of a good story, of terrific characters and a world driven by your passion, courage, and creative gifts is still not enough. Your goal must be a good story well told. Just as a composer must excel in the principles ofmusical com- position, so you must master the corresponding principles of story composition. This craft is neither mechanics nor gimmicks.

It is the concert of techniques by which we create a conspiracy of Craft is the sum total of all means used to draw the audience into deep involvement, to hold that involvement, and ultimately to reward it with a moving and meaningful experience. Is it good? Or is it sewage? Ifsewage, what do I do? The conscious mind, fixated on these ter- rible questions, blocks the subconscious. But when the conscious mind is put to work on the objective task of executing the craft, the spontaneous surfaces.

Mastery ofcraft frees the subconscious. What is the rhythm of a writer's day? First, you enter your imagined world. As characters speak and act, you write. What's the next thing you do? You step out of your fantasy and read what you've written. And what do you do as you read? You analyze. Does it work? Why not? Should I cut? And the quality of your rewriting, the possibility of perfection, depends on a command of the craft that guides you to correct imperfection.

An artist is never at the mercy of the whims of impulse; he willfully exercises his craft to create harmonies ofinstinct and idea. The first is the "personal story" bad script: In an office setting we meet a protagonist with a problem: She deserves a promotion but she's being passed over.

Angry, she heads for her parents' home to discover that Dad's gone senile and Mom can't cope. Home to her apartment and a fight with her slobbish, conniving roommate. Now out on a date and smack into afailure to communicate: Her insensitive lover takes her to an expensive French restaurant, completely forgetting that she's on a diet.

Back to the office where, amazingly, she gets her promotion Back at her parents' place, wherejust as she solves Dad's problem, Mom goes over the edge. Coming home she discovers that her roommate has stolen her TV and vanished without paying the rent.

She breaks up with her lover, raids the refrigerator, and gains five pounds. But chin up, she turns her promotion into a triumph. A nostalgic heart-to-heart over a dinner with her folks cures Mom's woes. Her new roommate not only turns out to be an anal-retentive gem who pays the rent weeks ahead with cashier's checks, but intro- duces her to Someone New. We're now on page ninetyjive.

She sticks to her diet and looks greatfor the last twentyjive pages, which are the literary equivalent ofrunning in slow-rna through daisies as the romance with Someone New blossoms. At last she confronts her Crisis Decision: The screenplay ends on a tearful Climax as she decides she needs her space.

Second is the "guaranteed commercial success" bad script: Through a luggage mix-up at the airport, a software salesman comes into possession of the-thing-that-will-end-civilization-as- we-know-it-today. The-thing-that-will-end-civilization-as-we-know- it-today is quite small. In fact, it's concealed inside a ballpoint pen unwittingly in the pocket of this hapless protagonist, who becomes the target of a cast of three dozen characters, all of whom have double or triple identities, all ofwhom have worked on both sides of the Iron Curtain, all ofwhom have known one another since the Cold War, all of whom are trying to kill the guy.

This script is stuffed with car chases, shoot-outs, hair-raising escapes, and explo- sions. When not blowing things up or shootingfolks down, it halts for dialogue-thick scenes as the hero tries to sort through these duplicitous people andfind outjust whom he can trust.

It ends with a cacophony ofviolence and multimillion-dollar effects, during which the hero manages to destroy the-thing-that-will-end-civilization-as- we-know-it-today and thus save humanity. The "personal story" is understructured, slice-of-life portraiture that mistakes verisimilitude for truth.

This writer believes that the But fact, no matter how minutely observed, is truth with a small "t. Because this writer sees only what is visible and factual, he is blind to the truth oflife. The "guaranteed commercial success," on the other hand, is an overstructured, overcomplicated, overpopulated assault on the physical senses that bears no relationship to life whatsoever.

This writer is mistaking kinesis for entertainment. He hopes that, regardless of story, if he calls for enough high-speed action and dazzling visuals, the audience will be excited.

And given the Com- puter Generated Image phenomenon that drives so many summer releases, he would not be altogether wrong. Spectacles of this kind replace imagination with simulated actuality.

They use story as an excuse for heretofore unseen effects that carry us into a tornado, the jaws of a dinosaur, or futuristic holocausts. And make no mistake, these razzle-dazzle spectacles can deliver a circus of excitement. But like amusement park rides, their pleasures are short-lived. For the history of filmmaking has shown again and again that as fast as new kinetic thrills rise to pop- ularity, they sink under a "been there, done that" apathy.

Every decade or so technical innovation spawns a swarm of ill- told movies, for the sole purpose ofexploiting spectacle. The inven- tion of film itself, a startling simulation of actuality, caused great public excitement, followed by years of vapid stories. In time, how- ever, the silent film evolved into a magnificent art form, only to be destroyed by the advent of sound, a yet more realistic simulation of actuality.

Films of the early s took a step backward as audi- ences willingly suffered bland stories for the pleasure of hearing actors talk. The talkie then grew in power and beauty, only to be knocked off stride by the inventions of color, 3-D, wide-screen, and now Computer Generated Images, or CGI.

CGI is neither a curse nor a panacea. It simply adds fresh hues to the story pallet. Thanks to CGI, anything we can imagine can be The "commercial" writer, however, is often dazzled by the glare of spectacle and cannot see that lasting entertainment is found only in the charged human truths beneath the image. The writers of portraiture and spectacle, indeed all writers, must come to understand the relationship of story to life: Story is metaphorfor life.

A storyteller is a life poet, an artist who transforms day-to-day living, inner life and outer life, dream and actuality into a poem whose rhyme scheme is events rather than words-a two-hour metaphor that says: Life is like this!

Therefore, a story must abstract from life to discover its essences, but not become an abstraction that loses all sense oflife-as-lived. A story must be like life, but not so verbatim that it has no depth or meaning beyond what's obvious to everyone on the street. Writers of portraiture must realize that facts are neutral.

The weakest possible excuse to include anything in a story is: Indeed, the unimaginable happens. But story is not life in actuality. Mere occurrence brings us nowhere near the truth. What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens. Consider a set of facts known as "The Life of Joan of Arc. In Shakespeare's hands she became the lunatic Joan, a distinctly British point of view.

Each Joan is divinely inspired, raises an army, defeats the English, burns at the stake. Joan's facts are always the same, but whole genres shift while the "truth" of her life waits for the writer to find its meaning.

Likewise, writers of spectacle must realize that abstractions are neutral. By abstractions I mean strategies of graphic design, visual These have no meaning in and of themselves. The identical editing pattern applied to six different scenes results in six distinc- tively different interpretations. The aesthetics offilm are the means to express the living content of story, but must never become an end in themselves. Writers who lean toward reportage often have the power of the senses, the power to transport corporal sensations into the reader.

They see and hear with such acuity and sensitivity that the reader's heart jumps when struck by the lucid beauty of their images. Writers of action extravaganzas, on the other hand, often have the imaginative power to lift audiences beyond what is to what could be. They can take presumed impossibilities and turn them into shocking certain- ties.

They also make hearts jump. Both sensory perception and a lively imagination are enviable gifts, but, like a good marriage, one complements the other. Alone they are diminished. At one end of reality is pure fact; at the other end, pure imagi- nation.

Spanning these two poles is the infinitely varied spectrum offiction. Strong storytelling strikes a balance along this spectrum. Ifyour writing drifts to one extreme or the other, you must learn to draw all aspects of your humanity into harmony. You must place yourself along the creative spectrum: Dig in a two- handed way, using your insight and instinct to move us, to express your vision ofhow and why human beings do the things they do.

Last, not only are sensory and imaginative powers prerequisite to creativity, writing also demands two singular and essential tal- ents. These talents, however, have no necessary connection. A mountain ofone does not mean a grain ofthe other. The first is literary talent-the creative conversion of ordinary language into a higher, more expressive form, vividly describing Literary talent is, how- ever, common. In every literate community in the world, hundreds, if not thousands of people can, to one degree or another, begin with the ordinary language oftheir culture and end with something extraordinary.

They write beautifully, a few magnificently, in the lit- erary sense. The second is story talent-the creative conversion of life itself to a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. It seeks out the inscape of our days and reshapes it into a telling that enriches life. Pure story talent is rare. What writer, on instinct alone, creates brilliantly told stories year after year and never gives a moment's thought to how he does what he does or could do it better?

Instinctive genius may produce a work of quality once, but perfection and prolificness do not flow from the spontaneous and untutored. Literary and story talent are not only distinctively different but are unrelated, for stories do not need to be written to be told.

Sto- ries can be expressed any way human beings can communicate. Theatre, prose, film, opera, mime, poetry, dance are all magnificent forms of the story ritual, each with its own delights. At different times in history, however, one of these steps to the fore.

In the six- teenth century it was the theatre; in the nineteenth century, the novel; in the twentieth century, the cinema, the grand concert of all the arts. The most powerful, eloquent moments on screen require no verbal description to create them, no dialogue to act them.

They are image, pure and silent. When, for example, coworkers gather around the coffee machine, the storytelling begins. It's the currency of human contact. And whenever a half-dozen souls gather for this mid- morning ritual, there will always be at least one who has the gift.

She draws them into her spell, holding them slack-jawed over their coffee cups. She spins her tale, building them up, easing them down, making them laugh, maybe cry, holding all in high suspense until she pays it off with a dynamite last scene: His story is all on the surface, repetitious rambling from trivial detail to cliche: Given the choice between trivial material brilliantly told versus profound material badly told, an audience will always choose the trivial told brilliantly.

Master storytellers know how to squeeze life out of the least of things, while poor storytellers reduce the pro- found to the banal. You may have the insight of a Buddha, but if you cannot tell story, your ideas turn dry as chalk. Story talent is primary, literary talent secondary but essential.

This principle is absolute in film and television, and truer for stage and page than most playwrights and novelists wish to admit. Rare as story talent is, you must have some or you wouldn't be itching to write. Your task is to wring from it all possible creativity.

Only by using everything and anything you know about the craft of story- telling can you make your talent forge story. For talent without craft is like fuel without an engine. It burns wildly but accom- plishes nothing. To find their harmony, the writer must study the elements of story as ifthey were instruments ofan orchestra-first separately, then in concert.

If you wish, you could start the telling before the character is born, then follow him day after day, decade after decade until dead and gone. A character's life encompasses hundreds of thousands of living hours, hours both complex and multileveled. From an instant to eternity. The mark of a master is to select only a few moments but give us a lifetime. Starting at the deepest level, you might set the story within the protagonist's inner life and tell the whole tale inside his thoughts and feelings, awake or dreaming.

Or you could shift up to the level of personal conflict between protagonist and family, friends, lovers. Or expand into social institutions, setting the character at odds with school, career, church, the justice system. Or wider still, you could pit the character against the environment-dangerous city streets, lethal diseases, the car that won't start, time running out.

Or any combination ofall these levels. But this complex expanse oflife story must become the story told. To design a feature film, you must reduce the seething mass and rush of Jl And when a story is well told, isn't that the effect?

When friends come back from a film and you ask them what it was about, have you noticed they often put the story told inside lift story? About a guy raised on a sharecropper's farm. As a kid he toiled with his family under the hot sun. He went to school but didn't do t9o well because he had to get up at dawn, all that weeding and hoeing. But somebody gave him a guitar and he learned to play, write his own songs Then he met a beautiful gal with a great voice.

They fell in love, teamed up, and, bang, their careers skyrocketed. But the trouble was the spotlight was always on her. He wrote their songs, arranged, backed her up, but people only came to see her. Finally she throws him out, and there he is back on the road again, until he hits rock bottom. He wakes up in a cheap motel in a dusty Midwest town, middle of nowhere, penniless, friendless, a hopeless drunk, not a dime for the phone and no one to call ifhe had one.

But nothing of the above is in the film. The next two hours cover the next year in Sledge's life. Yet, in and between scenes, we come to know all of his past, everything of sig- nificance that happens to Sledge in that year, until the last image gives us a vision of his future. Structure From the vast flux of lift story the writer must make choices. Fictional worlds are not daydreams but sweatshops where we labor in search of material to tailor a film. Yet when asked "What do you choose?

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Some look for character, others for action or strife, perhaps mood, images, dialogue. But no one element, in and of itself, will build a story. A film isn't just moments of conflict or activity, per- What the writer seeks are events, for an event contains all the above and more.

STRUCTURE is a selection of events from the characters' life stories that is composed into a strategic sequence to arouse specific emotions and to express a specific view of life.

An event is caused by or affects people, thus delineating charac- ters; it takes place in a setting, generating image, action, and dia- logue; it draws energy from conflict producing emotion in characters and audience alike. But event choices cannot be dis- played randomly or indifferently; they must be composed, and "to compose" in story means much the same thing it does in music. What to include? To exclude? To put before and after what?

Robert McKee: Master Class on the Craft of Story

To answer these questions you must know your purpose. Events composed to do what? One purpose may be to express your feelings, but this becomes self-indulgence if it doesn't result in arousing emotions in the audience.

A second purpose may be to express ideas, but this risks solipsism if the audience cannot follow. So the design ofevents needs a dual strategy. Event "Event" means change. If the streets outside your window are dry, but after a nap you see they're wet, you assume an event has taken place, called rain.

The world's changed from dry to wet. You cannot, however, build a film out of nothing but changes in weather-although there are those who have tried. Story Events are meaningful, not trivial. To make change meaningful it must, to begin with, happen to a character. If you see someone drenched in a downpour, this has somewhat more meaning than a damp street. By values I don't mean virtues or the narrow, moralizing "family values" use of the word.

Rather, Story Values refers to the broadest sense of the idea. Values are the soul of storytelling. Ultimately ours is the art of expressing to the world a perception ofvalues. For example: All such binary qualities ofexperience that can reverse their charge at any moment are Story Values. They may be moral, goodfevil; ethical, rightfwrong; or simply charged with value.

Hopefdespair is neither moral nor ethical, but we certainly know when we are at one end ofthe experience or the other. Imagine that outside your window is r98os East Africa, a realm of drought.

Robert McKee: Master Class on the Craft of Story

Now we have a value at stake: We begin at the negative: This terrible famine is taking lives by the thousands. If then it should rain, a monsoon that brings the earth back to green, animals to pasture, and people to survival, this rain would be deeply meaningful because it switches the value from negative to positive, from death to life.Lisa Cron.

Then go to step 5. July 12, On the other hand, this repressive custom could become mate- rial for a worldwide success if the artist were to roll up his sleeves and search for an archetype. Writing Fiction For Dummies.