The long-awaited follow-up to the perennially bestselling writers' guide Story, from the most sought-after expert in the art of storytelling.
Robert McKee's popular writing workshops have earned him an international reputation. The list of alumni with Oscars runs off the page. The cornerstone of his program is his singular book, Story, which has defined how we talk about the art of story creation.
Now, in DIALOGUE, McKee offers the same in-depth analysis for how characters speak on the screen, on the stage, and on the page in believable and engaging ways. From Macbeth to Breaking Bad, McKee deconstructs key scenes to illustrate the strategies and techniques of dialogue. DIALOGUE applies a framework of incisive thinking to instruct the prospective writer on how to craft artful, impactful speech. Famous McKee alumni include Peter Jackson, Jane Campion, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Haggis, the writing team for Pixar, and many others.
This new work from bestselling screenwriting guru McKee (Story) falls short of expectations, considering his lofty reputation among both A-list and aspiring Hollywood scribes. McKee is in his element writing about conventional and even some unconventional film and television dialogue; his ability to find just the right scene to illustrate what he's trying to teach is remarkable. That said, his conception of the proper uses of narrative is limited. His statement that "stories are metaphors for life, not theses on psychology, environmental crises, social injustice, or any cause extraneous to the characters' lives" is applicable to the current crop of blockbuster and Oscar-winning films, but unhelpful to writers interested in telling other kinds of stories. Time and again, McKee hands out hard and fast rules, rather than measured, adaptable advice. The limitations of his method are particularly evident when he discusses classic literature. This is not to say that his brand of close reading has no value, but rather that shoehorning "beats" and other Hollywood terminology onto, say, The Great Gatsby is reductive and unlikely to teach much about dialogue or storytelling in general.