114 of 119 people found the following review helpful
Principles Not Rules,
This review is from: Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (Hardcover)
I've read many books on screenwriting, and Story is certainly one of the best. Its conservative, to be sure, espousing all the tenets of Classical Hollywood Narrative: Three act structure, strong active protagonists, inciting incidents, causal chain, action not words - y'know the drill.
McKee, however, is not a member of the Syd Field school. Field gives writers rules; McKee offers principles. This is a critical difference. McKee believes in the craft and art of screenwriting above all else. Consequently, Story has a different tone to Field's Screenplay . If you look beneath the surface of Story, you'll find that McKee's principles and views are far more flexible than anything Vogler or Field has offered the screenwriter.
While primarily focusing on what he calls Arch-Plot (Classical Hollywood Narrative) he also accepts the existence of other, alternative, forms. He also hails the greatness of those alternative narrative films throughout the book. These alternative narratives are not, however, the focus in Story. McKee believes that an aspiring writing needs to master the classical story form before adventuring elsewhere. His goal in the sheer bulk of Story is to educate, not indoctrinate, the reader about all aspects of Classical Narrative.
For many readers this will come across as a conventional approach to screenwriting. That it is. Unlike many other (traditional) screenwriting books, though, this is underpinned by McKee's belief in the craft above all else. He doesn't want you to just absorb, but rather think. about what he is saying. If you don't understand how a traditional story works, and how to tell one well, what chance in hell do you have of telling your multi-passive-protoganist, anti-plot, 2-act, time-jumping magnum work?
When McKee speaks of writers taking their craft to a place few ever go what he really is talking about is writers who are willing to think about what they are doing on a fundamental level.
While I did disagree with what he had to say at times (a lot of times) I did find that McKee made me understand my craft far better than most screenwriting books and teachers I've had. Combine this with Alternative Scriptwriting and/or Scriptwriting Updated, and all you need now is a great idea..
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Initial post: Oct 28, 2010 4:56:27 PM PDT
Dutch Detective says:
Great review, thanks.
Posted on May 17, 2011 8:02:33 PM PDT
Yes, great review..!
However, I wish you could explain at least a few of your main points of disagreement - it would be very helpful, as I get the feeling you have experience from which to speak.
Not to detract from McKee in any way, but to add to our (my) understanding...
Thanks in advance..!
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