Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee


Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee

Author:Robert McKee [McKee, Robert]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: ePub Bud (www.epubbud.com)
Published: 2011-04-20T16:00:00+00:00


work, it would be unfair of me to demand that you to take me to the limit. Instead I'd like a moment of pleasure, an insight or two, no more than that. But if I give you important hours of my life, I expect you to be an artist of power who can reach the boundaries of experience."

In our effort to satisfy the audience's need, to tell stories that touch the innermost and outermost sources of life, two major reversals are never enough. No matter the setting or scope of the telling, no matter how international and epic or intimate and interior, three major reversals are the necessary minimum for a full- length work of narrative art to reach the end of the line.

Consider these rhythms: Things were bad, then they were good—end of story. Or things were good, then they were bad— end of story. Or things were bad, then they were very bad—end of story. Or things were good, then they were very good—end of story. In all four cases we feel something's lacking. We know that the second event, whether positively or negatively charged, is neither the end nor the limit. Even if the second event kills the cast: Things were good (or bad), then everyone died—end of story—it's not enough. "Okay, they're all dead. Now what?" we're wondering. The third turn is missing and we know we haven't touched the limit until at least one more major reversal occurs. Therefore, the three-act story rhythm was the foundation of story art for centuries before Aristotle noted it.

But it's only a foundation, not a formula, so I'll begin with it, then delineate some of its infinite variations. The proportions I'll use are the rhythms of the feature film, but in principle they apply equally to the play and novel. Again, I caution that these are approximations, not formulas.

INCITING INCIDENT



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