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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The encyclopedia of screenwriting
I've taken screenwriting courses and seminars, been to a university for film and creative writing, and I can safely say McKee's book is the purest form of breaking down screenwriting I've ever read. From stem to stern, the book is a road map to developing your screenplay in a systematic, thorough and fleshed out manner, leaving no major stone unturned, revealing all the...
Published on May 20 2004 by Javier A. Rodriguez

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Over-Hyped and Highly Overrated
McKee certainly seems to have mesmerized a vast number of would-be writers with his patented approach to story, and lined his pockets in the process, but I was not terribly impressed with this book nor McKee's formula for success. As one often reads of Syd Field, McKee is rather light is the resume department when it comes to screenwriting credentials, and yet here he...
Published on Sept. 26 2001


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The encyclopedia of screenwriting, May 20 2004
This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
I've taken screenwriting courses and seminars, been to a university for film and creative writing, and I can safely say McKee's book is the purest form of breaking down screenwriting I've ever read. From stem to stern, the book is a road map to developing your screenplay in a systematic, thorough and fleshed out manner, leaving no major stone unturned, revealing all the working parts. If you are a beginner or well rounded writer, there is plenty to be gained by McKee's perspective. Some of the material in here has been glanced or appropriated by other screenwriting books, but none do the in depth look like 'story' does.
'Story' can at time be a very mechanical read, simply because of the vast amounts of information he is delivering. The book is also (thankfully) not going to tell you where to find material to write about, or suggest what kind of material to develop. This book illuminates the conventions of screenwriting, so having a working knowledge of structure is a bonus in pushing you through the book. Regardless, the book can be inspiring and empowering, giving you insight into potential holes in your craft or literating concepts that are elusive.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn from the Master, April 30 2004
By 
Christina Paul "Live like you MEAN it!!" (Anamosa, IA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
If you look at Robert McKee's list of who has taken his course, it reads like a Hollywood Who's Who. I have both the book and the audio cassette and I have read an abundance of books on screenwriting. This book is the best. Fledgling screenwriters need three tools only - a decent screenwriting software package, determination to tell a decent story and this book. McKee is the best there is, and it is no wonder that this is required reading at most film schools.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a word is worth a thousand pictures in this case, June 10 2004
By 
W. Wade "Willhime" (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
Story by Robert Mckee is one of the best pieces of literature these old bones have had the pleasure of holding. Every single sentence is chalked full of mountains of wealth. It's like reading Beowulf, without the wolf. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then McKee makes a word worth a thousand pictures with his inspiring and thought invoking writing on screenplays. He tells the reader that one must study the craft of screenwriting before attempting any kind of writing that will be worth anything. He likens it to if someone were to listen to a bunch of symphonies, say all 9 of Beethoven's, then say, "you know what, I can write a symphony." McKee says that film watching and life experiences aren't enough, that one must study the art. He says that life in fact is overrated as a form of qualification for writing. Research is key to knowing how life works also. Life plus deep reflection on our reactions to life. After reading this it is hard not to write something of worth--or at least I think this is the case. It hurts not to write after reading this, and not 'hurts so good' like the John Mellencamp song.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Over-Hyped and Highly Overrated, Sept. 26 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
McKee certainly seems to have mesmerized a vast number of would-be writers with his patented approach to story, and lined his pockets in the process, but I was not terribly impressed with this book nor McKee's formula for success. As one often reads of Syd Field, McKee is rather light is the resume department when it comes to screenwriting credentials, and yet here he is, offering his insights as to how to write a great story. There's really nothing new here that you cannot find in many other books on screenwriting, and while some find McKee's approach "inspiring," I find it more exasperating as he seems to be as enamored with his own writing as he is with the subject matter. McKee definitely covers all the territory one needs to know in order to navigate the rough terrain of screenwriting, but for those who would rather pay less, not read as many pages, and learn just as much, Syd Field's "Screenplay" and Irwin R. Blacker's "The Elements of Screenwriting" will get you on the road to screenwriting faster and with less of dent in your wallet. In the end McKee is just another overrated screenwriting "guru" whose formula perpetuates the never-ending phalanx of like-minded writers who feed the Hollywood drivel machine. The difference is that McKee has brilliantly repackaged his retelling of Aristotelian structure with a kind of Nieman-Marcus flair, and has made a name for himself by taking his show on the road with his high-priced seminars. Perhaps it was the overpowering scent of greed that made this a less than enjoyable reading experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very impressed, April 20 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
This is a genuinely great book. I was expecting a summary of writing techniques and of the most common types of story and how to write and sell them, but instead McKee starts at the beginning - why we write, what it means to have something to say, how to add depth and layers of meaning to a story - and then moves on to technical advice such as dialogue and scene structure. But don't read this if you want to read an easy paperback and daydream about Hollywood. It's not an easy (or short) book and needs to be read several times to be fully absorbed and thus effective. It makes it clear that writing a screenplay isn't as easy as it looks! Buy it if you're serious and willing to put the effort into understanding it and improving your writing - otherwise, what's the point?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real thing . . ., July 10 2004
By 
stephen3984 (Berkeley, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
I have now ploughed through seven different books on screenwriting. Robert McKee's "Story" distinguishes itself as the best in one significant way: It provides real insight into the strucure of story-telling, the techniques that make stories work and the traps that many writers fall into. This is not a paint-by-numbers approach. This book challenges you to think about the ways that people really behave, and how that can be translated in a meaningful way to the silver screen.
If you are going to read just one book on screenwriting, this is the one. I am not sure I will mention Robert McKee in my acceptance speech when I receive my Academy Award for best screenplay , but I might send him a case of champagne ;-)
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book On Writing Screenplays, March 15 2004
This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
If you've browsed a fraction of the books on writing fiction, then you already know that most of them, frankly, are crap. Only a few are worth investing your money and, more importantly, your time and thought in. STORY fits this latter category. It deserves all the accolades it has garnered, and more.
As one reviewer pointed out, McKee focuses on principles. Once you learn the principles AND master the craft, you are free to use your creativity in any way you wish as long as you are aware of what you are doing. The patterns and examples that McKee provides are not in the book to be slavishly followed. They are there to demonstrate audience expectations and, more imortantly, the thought process that goes into the building of a great screenplay. McKee makes it clear that you are free to follow your own thought process, even if it means contradicting some of his analyses and advice. Again, the only caveat is that you have to first know what you are doing. Otherwise, it's like writing poetry in free verse because you don't know anything about poetic forms. McKee's book teaches you the principles and the forms (genres) of building a great story in the form of a screenplay. If you want to learn them, this is the book for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read the Book Skip the Seminar, March 13 2004
By 
John Kole (Longmeadow, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
As a novelist, I long resisted the suggestion of a film director friend to read this book. After all, what could a screenwriting book tell me about the novel form? Well...I was wrong. Story offers sound concepts that can save any storyteller hours of frustration. Story is simply first rate as a tool for diagnosing that horrible sinking feeling we all get when we know something isn't quite right with our tale...but we just can't figure out what.
I was so impressed with the book, I signed up for the seminar. McKee is entertaining, sure. But as I sat there with my well-marked copy of the book in hand (shocked, by the way, at how few others had bothered to read the [$$$] book before forking over at least ten times more for the seminar...I mean these are writers, right...and writers supposedly read?), it became painfully clear that McKee was simply marching through the text, page by page, using exactly the same examples, usually verbatim. If you are intelligent enough and sufficiently committed to your craft to read Story closely (and I mean closely, with a pen and highlighter), the seminar is a waste of time and money. Other than a scene-by-scene analysis of Casablanca and McKee's personal thoughts on politics and religion, it simply does not go beyond the book in any meaningful way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Do the Work Beforehand, Feb. 19 2004
By 
Edward Roberts (Acworth, Ga United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
Creativity is a misunderstood thing, and from what is often said about it, it can't be hamstrung by rules. It must be set free to improvise, fly, and blossom into art. The author must work at the typewriter like a jazz musician riffing in a club, and the magic will happen.
On rare occasions, this may happen to great affect, but it happens rarely with experienced artists, and I suspect never with inexperienced ones. The exceptions are well-publicized because the people who it happened to are as surprised as everyone else and love telling the story.
Opposing this attitude, Robert McKee's book gives practical advice on the work required to "engineer" a great screenplay: know the characters before putting words in their mouth, know the setting before creating a romantic sunset in it, and know the nature of the universe the world is set in before you have someone build a spaceship that is faster than light or even cross the street when the "Don't Walk" sign is on. Know these things as well as you can know them, and the screenplay will happen. In fact, it will be difficult to stop it.
Once that's done, you can use what I believe is his best piece of advice. Create the story, know it in and out, then ask a friend for twenty minutes of their time. Tell them your story. If they are silent, except for the whispered "Wow", you have a story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Core reading for dramatic writers, Oct. 9 2003
By 
Neil LaChapelle (Waterloo, ON, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Story (Hardcover)
It boggles my mind that some reviewers have given this book less than five stars. Yes, some people over-use McKee, especially as they are working to master his framework. Some people rely on his expertise to stop thinking about story, turning his analysis into a sterile checklist of dramatic elements. There are many other books that need to be on your shelf, if you are committed to conscious control over your dramatic writing. However, every serious dramatist needs to read this book.
Even if you want to produce non-standard dramatic structures, you need standards to selctively disrupt. The fact that some gatekeepers in the entertainment industry over-use McKee only makes it that much more important to understand his analysis more deeply than those gatekeepers.
If you love understanding story structure, you will love this book and value every moment of life energy you invest in it. If your preference runs towards non-standard drama, this book will help you clarify the genre violations that hold value for you. If you grow from professional conversation with colleagues in the drama industries, you should know that most of us have read and engaged thoughtfully with this book.
One-star rankings of this resource are not credible. Something motivates those reactions, but the motivation cannot be the collegial respect for masterful teachers you will need to improve your abilities as a writer, even if you surpass those teachers someday.
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Story
Story by Robert McKee (Hardcover - Nov. 13 1997)
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