November 16, 2009

The Substance of Story

Hey All!

I know, it's been what? Two weeks since my last post? Well, I'll try to do better from now on. It's been pretty hectic then, right after, I went through a lazy-phase (yes, I know, I tend to go through those pretty regularly--can't help it, it's addicting!).

As I've mentioned before, while I'm finishing up the edits to my novel, I'm also developing a movie script. Yep. It's turning out to be a lot of fun, and a lot more complex than I had anticipated (my story, that is, I'd always imagined making movies to be difficult to begin with^^).

BUT, I found this super great book to help me: Story by Robert McKee.

Already in the intro he gives us the gist of what a story truly is and, as a learning storyteller myself, I thought I'd share some of his points with you:

1) Story is about principles, not rules. That is, your story should be well done and should follow guidelines, but it doesn't HAVE to do anything.

2) Story is about eternal, universal forms, not formulas. Yes, I believe that's a jibe to a lot of movies (and dare I say? books) out there, that are pushed forward because they follow a successful trend but end up being just so much fluff.

3) Story is about archetypes, not stereotypes. In Robert's words, "[a]n archetypal sory creates settings and characters so rare that our eyes feast on every detail, while its telling illuminates conflicts so true to humankind that it journeys from culture to culture."

Note: have I mentioned this author has a super awesome way with words? No? Well, he does! (end of note)

4) Story is about thoroughness, not shortcuts. This one's a hard one for me to swallow. I mean, come on, we all know I'm so not the patient type! I'm a product of today, I want immediate gratification.

5) Story is about realities, not the mysteries of writing. In other words, there's no secret to good writing, it's a craft you need to work and rework--like everything else in life you want to do well.

6) Story is about mastering the art, not second-guessing the marketplace. I think this one's linked to points... uh, looks like it's linked to all the previous points :)

7) Story is about respect, not disdain, for the audience. Seriously, people out there aren't that stupid. Yes, that includes me, come on. Haven't you heard of the expression "don't judge a book by its cover"? So they'll get your subtle points, no need to over-explain (hu-hum... yeah, that last one's for me, really. I have a tendency to repeat myself in my book, I've noticed, which makes for dragging scenes sometimes...)

8) Story is about originality, not duplication. Need I say more?

Well folks, guess that's it for tonight. Wasn't this fun? But before I go, I want to mention that it's because a lot of "would-be writers," according to Robert once again (and I'm not contradicting his words) don't think about these points when writing a story. That's why, especially nowadays, there's an over-reliance on technology or the musical score to carry the story along when it is itself lacking.

What do you think about that?

--The Writing Apprentice

PS1: For more info on Robert McKee, check out his website.

PS2: I dunno what the story's going to be like with this movie, but I don't care: I'm gonna watch Ninja Assassin. Period. Nothing's gonna deter me from that!