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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,973 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert McKee Narrator: Robert McKee Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9780061146534
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As grandiose as it is polarizing, Robert McKee's Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting is much more than a how-to lesson on screenwriting and although the nuts-and-bolts of the three act structure and dramatic arcs are explained, it's McKee's impassioned plea that writers should learn their craft by seeing story from the inside out that has put Story on the very short list of required reading, not only for any aspiring writer, but for the film industry as a whole.

McKee's argument is an ambitious one that deftly examines the influence that content and form have on each other, how setting and genre effect structure, and how true character is revealed in the choices one makes under pressure, choices that, in the finest writing, come to reveal a change in the character's inner nature over the course of the story.

Drawing on examples across a widespread dramatic spectrum (everything from Greek tragedies to Casablanca to Die Hard), McKee argues that what the novice writer mistakes for craft is simply his unconscious absorption of story elements from everything he's ever encountered -- lots of other movies, books, and television -- which leads to underdeveloped, clichéd stories. A screenwriter's method should be more intrinsic, drawing strength instead from the big-muscle movements like desire, forces of antagonism, turning points, crises and climax -- story seen, as he explains it, from the inside out.

Without craft, McKee asserts, the best a writer can do is snatch the first idea off the top of his head, then sit helpless in front of his own work unable to answer the dreaded question: Is it good? Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting should help writers at any level answer that question for themselves.

McKee's world renowned Story Seminar, which became the basis for this book, has been the world's ultimate writing class for over 50,000 screenwriters, filmmakers, TV writers, novelists, industry executives, actors, producers, directors and playwrights. His former students include 59 Academy Award winners and 170 Emmy Award winners.

A fictionalized version of McKee appeared opposite Nicholas Cage in Adaptation, an Oscar-winning film that was loosely based on Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief.

For more than fifteen years, Robert McKee’s students have been taking Hollywood’s top honors. His “Story Seminar” is the world’s ultimate seminar for screenwriters, filmmakers, and novelists. Now Robert McKee’s Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting reveals the award-winning methods of the man universally regarded as the world’s premier teacher on screenwriting and story. With Hollywood and publishing companies paying record sums for great stories and audiences clamoring for originality, McKee’s Story gives you the strategies you need to win the war on clichés.

Story is about form, not formula. McKee’s insights cut to the hidden sources of storytelling, the decisive differences between mediocrity and excellence.

This audiobook goes well beyond the essential mechanics of screenwriting and is packed with examples from such film classics as Casablanca and Chinatown. Then, scene by sequence by act, he illuminates the principles of story design that take a writer’s vision to brilliant realization. Story elevates the craft of screenwriting to an art form.

Take it from the pros: if you’re serious about your writing, this is the audiobook that will help you get your story from page to screen.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Robert McKee’s screenwriting course has no peer.”

    Jack Valenti

  • “Stimulating, innovative, refreshingly practical.”

    Lawrence Kasdan, director

  • “Incredible insight and clarity, passionately delivered.”

    Mark Rydell, director

  • “McKee is the Stanislavski of writing.”

    Dennis Dugan, writer, NYPD Blue

  • “In difficult periods of writing, I often turn to Robert McKee’s wonderful book for guidance.”

    Dominick Dunne, novelist

  • “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

  • “An excellent instruction manual on the craft of storytelling.”

    Austin (TX) American-Statesman

  • ANew York Times bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracy | 2/14/2014

    " To paraphrase some anonymous soul who is much smarter than me, you gotta learn the rules before you break them. Story contains all those rules. You can argue it's too rigid, too structured, or too stifling, but to do that ignores that fact that this is arguable the most meticulous dissection of the writing craft ever packed into a single book. Ignore it at your readers' peril. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen Engelsen | 2/13/2014

    " Only the best book ever on the topic of structuring stories. An industry standard. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cai | 2/11/2014

    " This is a terrific book for anyone who is thinking about the elements that make for a good story. McKee speaks largely to screenwriters, but what he has to say about is very relevant for novelists (and certainly to oral storytellers as well). While there are no "rules" for writing, it is essential that writers understand the ways we are hard-wired to find certain patterns moving and exciting. For a writer to ignore such human universals is to close off a powerful storytelling tool. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mignon | 2/8/2014

    " Filled with useful information about how to create a good story, but also longer than it needed to be. The author spent a lot of time working to convince readers that it isn't more noble to write art film scripts than traditional scripts, and I didn't need to be convinced of that. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrea Taylor | 2/7/2014

    " Gets redundant in places, but I think I'll "read" films a bit differently after reading this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Gass | 2/4/2014

    " A unique read that will help your ad agency in presentations. It provided a lot of help to me personally for my writing. This is also a great content marketing tool. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anthony 'tony' | 1/29/2014

    " Wow this is a big book. I got the audio version. Still great stuff. (Donald Miller wrote a small book with the same concepts). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kirsty | 1/26/2014

    " The most useful writing book I've ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 A.e. Stueve | 1/20/2014

    " One of the best craft books I've ever read. Ever. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jonathan Baldwin | 12/31/2013

    " This is the hands-down book for creative writing, screenwriting and story structure. Story is about principles, not rules. McKee teaches how to navigate an idea or plot to expand its potential. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 محمد فايز | 12/27/2013

    " the best way to know how to be a writer. Robert McKee is the wizard "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew | 12/2/2013

    " Good book to learn the basics of screen writing and format. Style however is not stressed in this book, a must for selling a story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bryan | 11/14/2013

    " Absolutely amazing. A truly in-depth study of what it means to tell a good story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie Sammis | 10/20/2013

    " This is a book that anyone interested in story telling should read. There are definitely some specifics about screenplay writing, but it teaches a lot about what tells a good story. I loved it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 10/11/2013

    " The thing that kept this from being 5 stars for me was the swearing and the vulgar subject matter of the movies and stories he discussed. But his in depth analysis of what makes a good story was insightful and very useful. I thought it was one of the most useful texts on writing that I've read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nathaniel | 8/29/2013

    " self-help for the cinema crowd ? it helps.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew Wiley | 8/15/2013

    " Not a must read for writers but good for screenwriters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alain Thys | 6/22/2013

    " brilliant analysis of what it takes to write a story people want to watch/experience "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linera | 4/14/2013

    " This sits on my shelf, and sometimes I glance over at it, but doubt I will actually finish it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 4/1/2013

    " Lots to digest. A book I will return to many times. Hilarious in many places. And, best of all, it makes me excited to get to work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff | 3/21/2013

    " Why wasn't this required reading in graduate school? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 12/28/2012

    " There's a lot of BS in this book but overall it's was fascinating seeing stories broken down into their core components. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Breana | 12/17/2012

    " If you want your entire outlook on film, books, and your own personal writing to be utterly wrecked, then this is the book for you. It will change the way you think about story for the better. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather Gout | 10/2/2012

    " I own 15 different books about writing - this is the one I consult the most. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrew M | 8/25/2012

    " mmmm, digest it aspiring writers "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andy | 7/24/2012

    " This inspired me not only to write a screenplay, but to write a better screenplay! I watch movies and say: NOW i understand. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brendan Detzner | 5/29/2012

    " Lots of great ideas for anyone writing in any medium, not just film. To be read critically but to be read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ja | 1/15/2012

    " More right then I probably want to admit. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hikerdee | 5/22/2011

    " Five stars from me rates that I recommend the book and will keep a copy for reference. I wish all members of our writing group read this so we have the same definitions to use when we critique each others' stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nelson | 4/24/2011

    " A master piece on hollywood storytelling "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel | 4/7/2011

    " I'd recommend this book to not only people interested in screenwriting, but anyone seeking a greater appreciation of film in general. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Flora | 4/7/2011

    " The best book on writing stories, whether fiction or film, I've ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tyler | 3/3/2011

    " phenomenal, yet a bit eccentric at times "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 1/25/2011

    " This books is singly responsible for the improvement in my writing lately. It was also a huge help with several scripts I have been working on. A MUST have for all writers of any format. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 daniel | 1/12/2011

    " I love this book! This book is so inspirational and helps me understand the craft of screenwriting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 12/30/2010

    " I highly recommend this book to novel writers, even though it is ostensibly about screenwriting. McKee will change the way you think about storytelling. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eleanor | 12/11/2010

    " After I mentioned my literary ambitions to a screenwriter friend of the family, she sent me this book. It was a very thoughtful gift and has certainly given me a new way to think about and reflect upon the movies. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Geoff | 11/19/2010

    " If you want to understand the mechanics of storytelling (screen or page), this book is a wonder. Some suggest it's prescriptive, but I don't see it. You want to know the form you're ultimately going to break? Story will show you that form in the most concise terms. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 11/5/2010

    " I've read this before but it's time to revisit. Great book. "

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About the Author
Author Robert McKee

Robert McKee teaches his Story seminar to sold-out auditoriums in Los Angeles, New York, London, and film capitals throughout the world. A Fulbright Scholar, this award-winning film and television writer has also served as project and talent development consultant to major production companies such as TriStar and Golden Harvest Films. He lives in Los Angeles and Cornwall, England.