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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 McKe Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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!


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.”


  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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