In which I detail my adventures in writing and publishing

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I'm taking one of my many breaks from editing to post a tip for the rest of you in post first draft land. It's nothing I invented, mind you. I forget where I first read about Robert McKee, the author of Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. is the link. He writes about story telling, not just screenwriting, so it applies to fiction, particularly genre stuff like I am working on. His style reminds me of a dynamic lecture and he is noted for giving seminars that follow the outline of the book.

It's a big (400+ pages) and you may not want to buy it. I did, and even though I haven't made a nickel (yet) with my writing, I think using McKee's road map to analyzing scenes helps my line by line breakdown. That's right: line by line.

If a scene doesn't contain Conflict, an Opening and Closing Value that changes in the scene, Beats (action/reaction of characters) and a Turning point, then I need to change it or get rid of it.

That sentence best describes the McKee's thesis. He illustrates it with numerous examples of notable screenplays: Chinatown, Casablanca, Through a Glass Darkly, to name a few.

Have I whetted your interest? Good. Now, back to work.