thoughts on mckee's book

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  • thoughts on mckee's book

    i just picked it up.
    i think it's really good.
    along with tools for writing. that's my next buy.


    what do you think?
    i like that he goes into depth on 'writing from the inside out,' conflict, dimensions on character, antagonism.....
    really the main thing is having conflict by clashing oppposites.
    i learned alot.

    what do you guys think?

  • #2
    I have not read any of McKee's books ... Yet. I will eventually, it is part of my nature.

    Here is my take on the controversial aspects of McKee, but it applies to any book covering the field of writing.

    The first thing is to think about the book.

    Do not be in a hurry to read it. Be in a worry to understand it. Not just what this author is saying, but how it applies to you personally. Not everything said will be an insight to you or worthwhile to you or of equal worth to you and what you are doing.

    Even the worst book by the most outstanding dolt is apt to have sometthing you can use and apply.

    From what I understand McKee is an eccentric genius. That is cool, there is always room for one more of those. And they always have insights and interesting ideas.

    But slavishly following someone else's vision, eccentric genius or not, is at best self destructive. The object is to master the craft, not let the craft, or someone else's vision master you.

    Read what he has to say, think about what he has to say, apply what you can use, and move on.

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    • #3
      I advocate reading and learning as much dramatic theory as you can so you have a diversity of philosophies and perspectives to inform your creative choices.

      McKee has a lot to offer, although his theories are a mish-mash of other dramatic theorists, his great strength is that he picks those elements which are the most important and relevant from other theorists and presents them in a way that is easily accessible.

      I suggest that in addition to learning the McKeeisms you also go to the original masters from which he borrows and learn the entire spectrum of wisdom from which he is drawing so you too can make informed choices about what works and why it works and where it comes from.

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      • #4
        Thank you, Deus Ex Machine.

        In a way this is about what I was trying to say, only I did not know enough to realize he has drawn from other sources, or what sources he drew from.

        I love your last paragraph:

        "I suggest that in addition to learning the McKeeisms you also go to the original masters from which he borrows and learn the entire spectrum of wisdom from which he is drawing so you too can make informed choices about what works and why it works and where it comes from. "

        Will do, soon as money and time permits.

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        • #5
          My exposure to McKee is admittedly limited. I have a transcript of an 8 week seminar given to me by a producer who was a devout McKeeite. I understand this seminar was the foundation for his book STORY. What I see in his seminar are echoes of other great dramatic theorists and critics from Aristotle to Lajos Egri.

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          • #6
            other masters

            lajos egris is great.
            i'll have to pick up aristotle's book.
            too bad shakes never wrote a book on writing or did he?
            i think would shakes, the best thing to do with him is study his works like his characters (hamlet such as mckee pointed about dimensions), plot, how he opens....shakes was a great opener, i think.

            what other old masters can i read from?

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            • #7
              Re: other masters

              Shakespeare wrote his plays, a few narrative poems, his sonnets and his last will and testament. That's all, folks.

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              • #8
                Re: other masters

                Is his last will and testament as interesting as his plays ?

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                • #9
                  Re: other masters

                  Although Shakespeare never authored a work on dramatic criticism, there is a tremendous amount of craftsmanship and artistry that can be gleaned by reading his works. There are also countless works of criticism that use one or several or all of Shakespeare's plays as the basis for exploring and supporting their theories. A search of any search engine or books seller will quickly locate them for you.

                  As for other masters, you might consider reading:

                  Poetics, Aristotle. There are several translations out there.
                  The Art Of Criticism, a collection of essays and letters by Henry James.
                  Contradictory Characters, Albert Bermel.
                  The Technique Of The Drama, William T. Price
                  Playwriting, Bernard Grebanier
                  The Art Of Dramatic Writing, Lajos Egri
                  Hero Of A Thousand faces, Joseph Campbell
                  Morphology Of The Folktale, Vladimir Propp
                  Dramatic Technique, a collection of essays by Harvard Prof George Pierce Baker
                  Sooner recommends Backwards and Forewords, David Ball & Michael Langham.

                  Other books with extensive interviews with writers or film makers such as Which Lie Did I tell or Hitchcock can offer a wealth of insights.

                  There is also no shortage of modern masters from Linda Seger to Andrew Horton with a great deal to offer in addition to McKee and Field.

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                  • #10
                    Re: other masters

                    Shakespeare's will is interesting, primarily because he left his wife his "second-best bed". Apart from being a brilliant playwright and poet, manager and shareholder in a successful theatre company, Shakespeare was also on the cheap side.

                    I agree with Deus about books of interviews with screenwriters, among the best being those put together by William Froug.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Mckee's Story

                      I wasn't too nuts about it at first... but as I continued to read I found there was a lot of valuable information being offered. The truth of it, in my opinion, is that Mckee shares a lot of things any writer needs to know about character development and what makes a good story tick as well as what makes us fall in love with some movies.

                      As you read it and the further through you get, you'll realize why you fell in love with some movies and left the theater feeling empty with others.

                      For the record, I debated on getting the book. Then I thought I should read something from one of the 'masters' before wasting another minute writing 'junk' (just in case I was writing junk and too dumb to know it lol).

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