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Showing 1-10 of 20 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on December 25, 2015
I think this book had a lot of good information. My issue deals more with McKee's elitism.

Yes, there are natural ingredients of a good story.

Yes, he has several very good points - particularly about allowing your audience to be surprised by characters and his sections on motivation.

Yet it's dangerous and self-destructive to commit yourself wholly to his approach. Robert McKee's book should not be seen as a step-by-step guide to create a story - at least not for everyone. It should be seen as a network of tips and strategies to guide your thinking. If everyone wrote stories like this, the world would be pretty damn boring - ironically, pretty similar to the kind of world that McKee drones on about for the first thirty pages.

For some people, McKees methodical, regimented way of thinking works. They're able to look at the story like strips of isolated boxes and bring them into fruition. Some people are able to combine their emotional intuition with a very structural, by-the-numbers approach. But intuition takes on different forms, and feeling an obligation to conform to McKee's pre-determined structure can halt authors from digging into certain impulses.

Craft is important but an over-obsession with story structure can be detrimental to intuition. Find out what works for you as a writer and take what he says with a grain of salt.
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on March 18, 2015
My suggestion is to ONLY buy this second-hand. Sure, it's worth maybe $10 or so, but no more. I certainly can not imagine taking his course for $500 or more, to hear this material.

Probably the most helpful part of this book, to me, was his breakdown of different genres and sub-genres of movies (the "Buddy Redemption Eco Disaster Movie", etc), which were both accurate and amusing and kind of depressing.

But in general he comes across as very dated. Just one example: in the first 30 pages or so (and this is a *long* book of 500 pages or so) he mentions "The Accidental Tourist" about 10 times. Really??? Come on---an OK movie (and I'm a huge Gena Davis fan), but not some paragon of style, plot, etc. The astute reader should constantly ask: OK, he's saying this, but is it really true, or just his opinion. For example, as a previous reviewer mentioned, "Tender Mercies" is a great movie---but of plot, it has very little...yet he uses it (of all possible movies in the world) as an example of good plot.

Lastly, I just can't get past the fact he has no (or one, two at best) screenplays actually turned into movies (I'm discounting his TV work; a different field, as he should know). Yes, movies---the very topic he is writing about. I'm in advertising...and it'd be hard to listen to someone as they tell me how to write a TV commercial...and it turns out they've never actually made one.

Yes, go ahead and buy this. It's a long book so you'll get your money's worth. But don't at all take this as THE word on screenwriting, as McKee would probably like you to.
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on May 21, 2010
I have read a few screenplay writing books and regularly refer to a couple of them. I do not think this one will make the cut. Here is why: Yes, the book goes to great lengths in analyzing and re-analayzing and cutting and slicing story structure. The problem is it does too much of it. It does this until the pieces become so small that everything seaps through the sieve. As you read the book, you keep expecting that the author will start putting pieces together, but it never happens.

I heard the author's seminars are a very enjoyable due to his performance. I am afraid the book is just a very profitable business idea, an afterthought... for him.
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on November 4, 2013
I wanted to really like this book. I really did, given the high number of positive reviews. I bought the audio version of the book to listen to. After listening to it for 30 minutes, I stopped. I wasn't learning anything. It was a bore to listen to and felt like someone was dragging me bare-chested across cement. After the first 5 minutes I told myself, "Okay give it another 10 minutes mayble it'll be better." Nope. It didn't get bettery.

The book is too flowery in writing. The writing is dry and the he takes forever to make one point. Unlike Snyder's book, Mckee's Story was painful to listen to to. Snyder was engaging and I've read his books over and over again. Mckee's was a bore and too academic. Just say what you gotta' say, don't beat around the bush!
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on January 11, 2015
Technical and cumbersome, not the motivating, enlightening, and educational tool I was told it would be.
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on November 23, 2014
There is some good stuff in this book but it is so incredibly wordy. I realize it's a 'classic' but I've found several other books to be much more helpful.
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on July 20, 2013
I find it dry and boring. The style is like a lecture. I would appreciate more up to date examples.
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on May 27, 2016
I found it overrated and overpriced
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on November 30, 2014
Interesting, but a slow read.
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on July 12, 1999
I felt the book was too much a paint by numbers approach to screenwriting. Having graduated from the Masters Screenwriting Program at UCLA and having studied at the feet of some of the best writers in Hollywood, I know that writing a screenplay is dynamic and every story unique in structure and potential. While there are structural elements necessary in almost every screenplay, the vision for writing a screenplay must be approached with emotion and passion! Lew Hunters 434 is a much better book!
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