Writing for the screen is quirky business. A writer must labor meticulously over his or her prose, yet very little of that prose is ever heard by filmgoers. The few words that do reach the audience, in the form of the characters' dialogue, are, according to Robert McKee, best left to last in the writing process. ("As Alfred Hitchcock once remarked, 'When the screenplay has been written and the dialogue has been added, we're ready to shoot.' ") In Story, McKee puts into book form what he has been teaching screenwriters for years in his seminar on story structure, which is considered by many to be a prerequisite to the film biz. (The long list of film and television projects that McKee's students have written, directed, or produced includes Air Force One, The Deer Hunter, E.R., A Fish Called Wanda, Forrest Gump, NYPD Blue, and Sleepless in Seattle.) Legions of writers flock to Hollywood in search of easy money, calculating the best way to get rich quick. This book is not for them. McKee is passionate about the art of screenwriting. "No one needs yet another recipe book on how to reheat Hollywood leftovers," he writes. "We need a rediscovery of the underlying tenets of our art, the guiding principles that liberate talent." Story is a true path to just such a rediscovery. In it, McKee offers so much sound advice, drawing from sources as wide ranging as Aristotle and Casablanca, Stanislavski and Chinatown, that it is impossible not to come away feeling immeasurably better equipped to write a screenplay and infinitely more inspired to write a brilliant one.--Jane Steinberg
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"'In difficult periods of writing, particularly with structure, I often turn to Robert McKee's wonderful book, Story, for guidance.' Dominic Dunne, author of Another City, Not My Own and The Two Mrs Grenvilles * 'stimulating, innovative, refreshingly practical.' Lawrence Kasdan, screenwriter, director of The Accidental Tourist, The Big Chill, Body Heat and The Empire Strikes Back * 'McKee is the arch defender of story: his book is a revelation.' Griffin Dunne, screenwriter, director, producer of After Hours, Addicted to Love, Running on Empty and Chilly Scenes of Winter * 'Since I first attended Robert McKee's course, I have sold four screenplays and two novels. I could not have done so without the wisdom and inspiration he provided.' Tim Willcocks, novelist / screenwriter of Bad City Blues, Green River Rising and Swept from the Sea"