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Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (Methuen Film) Paperback – 16 Jul 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Paperback, 16 Jul 1999
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Methuen Publishing Ltd; Reprint. edition (16 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0413715604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0413715609
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'In difficult periods of writing, particularly with structure, I often turn to Robert McKee's wonderful book, Story, for guidance.' --Dominic Dunne

About the Author

Robert McKee teaches his Story seminar 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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What can I say: this book changed my life. I'm an aspiring novelist and aspiring screenwriter and this book helped me more than anything or anyone EVER... other than God, my dad, my mom, my siblings etc [Just preparing my acceptance speech for the first Oscar :) ]
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Format: Audio Download Verified Purchase
Masterful writing and essential reading for anyone at all interested in film, screenwriting, narrative or storytelling
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Format: Hardcover
McKee analyses not just movie plots but the principles of dynamic storytelling, dramatising his general points with perceptive commentaries on individual scenes and sequences. The audio cassette is greatly condensed from the book, but adds the impact of the author's forceful, atmospheric delivery. Both versions are well worth having.
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Format: Paperback
This is not a cosy read, it is long (could benefit from an edit that cuts 25%) and in places not easy to understand. So why have I given it 5 stars? Because it is well worth the trouble of re-reading it to really understand how to write a scene and to understand character arcs. I was lucky in that it was a set book on my MA in Creative and Critical Writing and we had to summarise whole chapters so I got to really understand it. On that basis I thoroughly recommend this book as the guide to writing a scene and to understand the principle of characer arc. It is a bible that you should read and then dip into many times as you write your stuff.
McKee states correctly that stories are not made up of chapters, they are made up of scenes and it is by knowing the dynamics of a scene that help the writer create a good story. For example many writers understand that a character must change from the beginning of a story to the end of a story but McKee says that the point of view character must change (arc) in a scene also. This adds huge power to every scene and often explains why some scenes are flat (no character arc in it).
I would say this book, along with Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers and The Story Book: A Writer's Guide to Story Development, Principles, Problem-solving and Marketing and
...Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a confidence builder. It's about as complete a text as possible on what it means to be a writer, and what demands that makes of the individual.

There's no doubting the author's credentials, he is one of the heavyweights of Hollywood. He pulls no punches in pointing out the many (in his eyes) flaws in modern screenwriting. Some of the concepts are a bit hard to follow, but hey it's a book you can always re-read when it comes to preparing your masterworks.

My only niggle with the book is he does cite the French New Wave - Brunuel, Godard as well as Ingmar Bergman an awful lot. The only American writer who gets a look in is Robert Towne. Perhaps McKee doesn't rate any of the Scorseses or Spielbergs but it would have been good to at least get his take on their (immensley successful) approaches to story.

Despite all the self-analysis, smashing of preconceptions, and an awful lot of honest (are you sure you can do this?) talk, McKee has crafted a text that spurs the budding writer on. It builds confidence by presenting the tools, saying 'Look, this works' and then setting you free. His parting message is to be courageous. Something that I have learned and will be putting into practice today, and everyday from now on.
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Format: Paperback
If you read this book you'll never watch a film or TV program in the same way again. Seriously, it's like having X-Ray eyes. If, like me, you are serious about becoming a professional writer; this is a must read. If, however, you want to carry on seeing films as a member of an audience, ignorant of the tricks and techniques which are enthralling you, basking comfortably in the world as it is before you see the Wizard of Oz, don't buy it!
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Format: Hardcover
...if you have an idea, if you have a good plot, if you have the desire, STORY is the very best guide I think it is possible to have.
Unlike many self-education books it is not a tome of instructions, it is an always fascinating walk through the essentials of sucessfully telling a great story in a screenplay.
It never feels like 'learning'; rather the countless invaluable pointers to characterisation, plot, drama, dialogue etc feel almost obvious, rational and common sense and thus easier to absorb.
And, most important of all for it is a long book,totally involving.
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Format: Hardcover
As a professinal script editor I can honestly say that there's little here to disagree with. He's not wrong when he says that these story structures work in delivering satisfying scripts and if your script isn't a great read it's probably down to the story structure not working. However, it's a fairly torturous read and McKee's style of delivery (here and in his famous lectures) is really hard to listen to. There is little attempt to entertain and one feels utterly preached at. If you can stick with the un-engaging writing and learn the lessons that he's hitting you over the head with, then it's well worth a read.
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