Story by Robert Mckee

Discussion in 'Writing' started by rtwngAvngr, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    .[ame=http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060391685/ref=pd_sbs_b_1/103-1014576-0515840?v=glance&s=books#product-details]Story by Robert Mckee[/ame]

    I thought this was a great book. It's geared towards screenwriting, but it's really about story in general. What is a story? etc.



    I know many people hate discussing story structure, thinking it kills creativity or only leads to trite "hollywood" material, Robert and I most heartily disagree. He dismisses his critics in the opening sections most effectively.

    Check out this paragraph:

    "Flawed and false storytelling is forced to substitute spectacle for substance, trickery for truth. Weak stories, desperate to hold audence attention, degenerate into multimillion-dollare razzle-dazzle demo reels. In Hollywood imagery becomes more and more extravagant, in europe more decorative. The behavior of actores becomes more and more histrionic, more and more lewd, more and more violent. Music and sound effects become increasingly tumultuous . The total effect transudes into the grotesque. A culture cannot evolve without honest, powerful storytelling . WHen society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed- out pseudo-stories , it degenerates. We need true satires and tragedies, dramas, and comedies that shine a clean light into the dingy corners of the human psyche and society. If not, as Yeats warned, "... the centre can not hold.""

    He has his own issues will Hollywood
     
  2. Dan
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    Dan Senior Member

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    The only exposure I've had to McKee is through the movie 'Adaptation', but he does seem like the kind of person I wouldn't like too much. I'm pretty much like Charlie Kaufman in that movie, I think a good story should come from within, not from a book. That said, obviously, McKee's stuff must work pretty well or he wouldn't be so popular. Different strokes, I guess.
     
  3. rtwngAvngr
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    But charlie eventually "saw the light" and had to go see mckee to finish his adaptation!

    One big point in the book is using conflict and character choices within the context of those conflicts to reveal character. Instead of saying "Johnny is x", show how johnny is x because he made choice a in situation b;whereas, if johnny were y, he would have chosen z. So scenes, chapters, become backstory to character revealing conflicts in the story present.

    One big point is answering this question truthfully "what would I do IF I were this character in this situation?" Get into character.

    One big point is creating gaps. Gaps are when events occur contrary to character expectation and allow for interesting turns in story.

    I think bad movies happen when people get the ideas of structure and events but don't get that those events must be character revealing, logically related, and creative.
     
  4. Dan
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    Dan Senior Member

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    True, but I thought the end was ironic and kind of a jab at McKee because it was just such an over-the-top, cliche-ridden action set piece that comes completely out of nowhere. That said, McKee tells Charlie to never cheat the audience, always be honest with them, don't give them a "deus ex machina", and he basically does all those.

    While we're on the subject, I loved Adaptation, and while I respect Kaufman for doing something completely different and unexpected with the ending, it really disappointed me. I had gotten to like all four of the main characters by that point, and in the end,Kaufman basically tosses the characters and their motivations aside in favor of an ironic statement.

    Have you seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind yet? Easily Charlie Kaufman's greatest film to date (and Jim Carrey's and Kate Winslet's and Michel Gondry's, for that matter).

    I agree with all of this. I guess it just feels somewhat unpure for someone to tell a writer to do all of this, rather than have them learn it on their own. These are skills I think a good writer should have to develop on his own.

    I completely agree with you here. Characters need to be the driving force of a movie, not events.
     
  5. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    True. I noticed that jab too, with car chases and crime from nowhere and all that. "Let's kill him. cuz he sawing us doing green coke" come on. :rolleyes: I thought it sucked. One thing I thought very clever: remember when he kept asking his twin brother about how he could have a character doing two things at once in the film, and the brother never seemed to get it? I think the answer is to write a twin brother into the movie.
    Have a heart man. People are wasting lives. If they can't tell a story they need to get off the pot.
    Characters as revealed, shaped by, and revealed anew by events!:D
     
  6. NewGuy
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    I agree all the way down the line.
     
  7. Dan
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    Dan Senior Member

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    There's actually a theory that Charlie's whole tirade about multiple personalities is a shot at another script he was writing at the same time, an adaptation of the book 'A Scanner Darkly'. I haven't read the script, but a lot of people say it resembles Donald's script A LOT, not only is it a detective murder mystery, but the main character has multiple personalities. The script is up at www.beingcharliekaufman.com if you wanna read it. I'd reccommend reading the script to Being John Malkovich, too, just to see how drastically different it is from the final movie, the original script was far more metaphysical than the final movie.

    I think that's actually where a lot of Hollywood screenwriters are getting their stories from! ZING!

    Well, we're getting into chicken/egg territory now, aren't we?:D
     

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