Monday, January 18, 2010

The Miracle of Story

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”—C.S. Lewis

I'm considering moving to the dark sidewriting fiction. (That's a joke, precious fiction writers.)

I ordered six books to inhale. I started reading all six. The one that grabbed me most? The book Story by famed teacher Robert McKee, who some believe teaches the world's ultimate writing class for screenwriters and novelists. His students have won or been nominated for:
Story is about principles, not rules. A rule says, "You must do it this way." A principle says, "This works ...and has through all remembered time."
  • Anxious, inexperienced writers obey the rules.
  • Rebellious, unschooled writers break the rules.
  • Artists master the form.
Story is about archetypes, not stereotypes.
  • The archetypal story unearths a universally human experience then wraps itself inside a unique, culture-specific expression.
  • A stereotypical story reverses this pattern: It suffers a poverty of both content and form. It confines itself to a narrow, culture-specific experience, dresses in stale, nonspecific generalities.
Story is about thoroughness, not shortcuts.
  • Brevity takes time to write.
  • Excellence means perseverance.
Story is about realities, not the mysteries of writing.
  • The "secrets" of writing a story are as public as the library down the street.
  • Writing story looks deceptively easy. Determination and study reveals the writing puzzle.
Story is about respect, not disdain, for the audience.
  • Stand in awe of the audience's capacity for response.
  • Filmgoers/readers open to the storyteller in ways even their lovers never know, welcoming laughter, tears, terror, rage, compassion, passion, love hate.
Story is about originality, not duplication.
  • Never mistake eccentricity for originality.
  • What is originality? The confluence of content (setting, characters, ideas) and form (selection and arrangement of events), that inspires and mutually influences one another.
  • The intellectual and emotional spirit of your story evolves as you rework it.

1 comment:

Roxanne Sherwood said...

Love this book! Thanks for sharing.