Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting

eBook - 1997 | 1st ed.
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Publisher: New York : ReganBooks, ©1997.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780062039828
Characteristics: 1 online resource (466 pages) : illustrations
Contents: pt. 1. The writer and the art of story
1. The story problem
pt. 2. The elements of story
2. The structure spectrum
3. Structure and setting
4. Structure and genre
5. Structure and character
6. Structure and meaning
pt. 3. The principles of story design
7. The substance of story
8. The inciting incident
9. Act design
10. Scene design
11. Scene analysis
12. Composition
13. Crisis, climax, resolution
pt. 4. The writer at work
14. The principle of antagonism
15. Exposition
16. Problems and solutions
17. Character
18. The text
19. A writer's method.


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Nov 06, 2017

To learn adaptation, study the work of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. She is, in my view, the finest adapter of novel to screen in film history. She's a Pole born in Germany who writes in English. Having reinvented her nationality, she's become the master reinventer for film.

Nov 06, 2017

Comedy points out that in the best of circumstances human beings find some way to screw up.

When we peek behind the grinning mask of comic cynicism, we find a frustrated idealist. The comic sensibility wants the world to be perfect, but when it looks around it finds greed, corruption, lunacy. The result is an angry and depressed artist. If you doubt that, ask one over for dinner. Every host in Hollywood has made that mistake. . . .

Nov 06, 2017

You do not keep the audience's interest by giving it information, but by WITHHOLDING information, except that which is absolutely necessary for comprehension.

Nov 06, 2017

In my experience, the principle of antagonism is the most important and least understood precept in story design.

A protagonist and his story can only be as intellectually fascinating and emotionally compelling as the forces of antagonism make them.

Nov 06, 2017

If I could send a telegram to the film producers of the world, it would be these three words: "Meaning Produces Emotion."

Not money; not sex; not special effects; not movie stars; not photography.

MEANING: A revolution in values from positive to negative, or negative to positive, with or without irony -- a value swing at maximum charge that's absolute and irreversible. The meaning of that change moves the heart of the audience.

Nov 06, 2017

"Characterization" is the sum of all observable qualities of a human being, everything knowable through careful scrutiny: age and IQ; sex and sexuality; style of speech and gesture; choices o home, ar, and dress; education and occupation; personality and nervosity. . . .The totality of these traits makes each person unique. . . . but it is not "character."

"True Character" is REVEALED in the choices a human being makes under pressure -- the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the voice to the character's essential nature.

Beneath the surface. . . who is this person? Is he loving or cruel? Generous or selfish? Strong or weak? Truthful or a liar? Courageous or cowardly? The o n l y way to know the truth is to witness him make choices under pressure to take one action or another in the pursuit of his desire. As he chooses, so he is.

Nov 06, 2017

We choose to act based on what life tells us will be the probable reaction from our world. It's only then, when we take action, that we discover necessity.

Necessity is absolute truth. Necessity is what in fact happens when we act. The truth is known - a n d. . . c a n. . . o n l y. . . b e. . . k n o w n - when we take action into the depth and breadth of our world and brave its reaction. This reaction is the truth of our existence at that precise moment, no matter what we believed the moment before. Necessity is what must and does actually happen, as opposed to probability, which is what we hope or expect to happen.

Nov 06, 2017

"Story" is about principles, not rules.

A rule says, "You must do it t h i s w a y." A principle says, "This w o r k s . . . and has through all remembered time."


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Feb 17, 2018

If you're looking for books on screenwriting, this is fundamental to your education. Comprehensive and easy to read, it analyzes and explains script and story structure, giving you the tools on not only how to craft great scripts but recognizing how not to. Screenplay by Syd Field is also highly recommended.

Nov 06, 2017

Essential reading for everyone who watches movies.

McKee analyses how stories work, how they make you feel.

Oct 28, 2016

Bible, practical guide, well written, easy to follow, and even full of wits.
Diagrams illustrated in the book are redundant.
Plenty of derogatory remarks to snotty intellectuals.

Oct 28, 2013

Recommended in Storytelling course

neko Dec 28, 2011

This is WHY you write. Robert shows you the the heart of a great story.

Jun 07, 2010

This is the book on writing you've been looking for, not just for the screen, but anything. A good companion book is John Truby's THE ANATOMY OF STORY, but it's really not necessary. This book rules and will teach you a lot.


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