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Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting Hardcover – November 25, 1997

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,700 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Writing for the screen is quirky business. A writer must labor meticulously over his or her prose, yet very little of that prose is ever heard by filmgoers. The few words that do reach the audience, in the form of the characters' dialogue, are, according to Robert McKee, best left to last in the writing process. ("As Alfred Hitchcock once remarked, 'When the screenplay has been written and the dialogue has been added, we're ready to shoot.' ") In Story, McKee puts into book form what he has been teaching screenwriters for years in his seminar on story structure, which is considered by many to be a prerequisite to the film biz. (The long list of film and television projects that McKee's students have written, directed, or produced includes Air Force One, The Deer Hunter, E.R., A Fish Called Wanda, Forrest Gump, NYPD Blue, and Sleepless in Seattle.) Legions of writers flock to Hollywood in search of easy money, calculating the best way to get rich quick. This book is not for them. McKee is passionate about the art of screenwriting. "No one needs yet another recipe book on how to reheat Hollywood leftovers," he writes. "We need a rediscovery of the underlying tenets of our art, the guiding principles that liberate talent." Story is a true path to just such a rediscovery. In it, McKee offers so much sound advice, drawing from sources as wide ranging as Aristotle and Casablanca, Stanislavski and Chinatown, that it is impossible not to come away feeling immeasurably better equipped to write a screenplay and infinitely more inspired to write a brilliant one.--Jane Steinberg

Review

"... stimulating, innovative, refreshingly practical." -- -- Lawrence Kasdan, Director

"...the best guide on writing you can find." -- Laurence Chollet, The Record, Northern New Jersey

"In difficult periods of writing, I often turn to Robert McKee's wonderful book for guidance" -- -- Dominick Dunne, Novelist

"McKee is the Stanislavski of writing." -- -- Dennis Dugan, Writer, NYPD Blue

"[Story is]an excellent instruction manual on the craft of storytelling." -- Austin American-Statesman

"to the people who write, direct and produce for Hollywood - or desperately wish they did - Bob McKee is a cross between E. F. Hutton and Sun Myung Moon. The man speaks, and people start to take furious notes - he is now the undisputed screenwriting king... for the legendary screenwriting boot camp that he runs. Thirty-thousand aspiring screenwriters have already taken McKee's 30-hour, three-day course..." -- Newsday


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Product details

  • ASIN : 0060391685
  • Publisher : ReganBooks; 1st edition (November 25, 1997)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 480 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9780060391683
  • Item Weight : 1.45 pounds
  • Dimensions : 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,700 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
1,700 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on April 7, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on May 9, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on April 19, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2015
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, toss the cover and read every chapter twice!
By Daniel Reed on February 10, 2015
I have two copies of "Story" to ensure it is always nearby.

Out of a dozen or so books on writing, I found McKee's "Story" thoroughly enlightening.

It can be a challenge to comprehend in places - but worth the extra effort!
In terms of characters driving narrative, review chapter 7 and examine writing w/in "the gap".

I found it easier to grasp McKee by writing one paragraph summaries of each chapter as I progressed.
It may be helpful to think of each chapter as a separate vignette of knowledge.
I suggest reading the chapters in this order: 1-3, 8, 4, 7, 5-6, 15, 9, 10-11, 14, 18, 12-13, 16-17
(the above order was suggested to me in fact by L.S.)

Also, try reading "Save the Cat", contrast/compare w/ "Story" and refer to the "Bible" by Trottier.

On a side note, the slip cover is absolutely awful. Throw it away.
The hardcover book w/out the slip cover is a tasteful blue-purple w/ STORY and McKee in gold print.
(see attached photo)
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120 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on January 1, 2018
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21 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2017
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Top reviews from other countries

Patrick McHale
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on how to write great stories ever
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 21, 2020
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4 people found this helpful
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The Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 8, 2018
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Robin
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the rest
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 10, 2017
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Ewan Ashford
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative, not for the faint-hearted!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 24, 2013
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inge_lem
4.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive book but little research
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 18, 2020
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