Friday, March 26, 2010
Fiction Friday: The McKee Story
Last weekend, I attended Robert McKee's Story conference in New York.
A woman from St. Paul who also attended called it a "life-changing event."
I don't know that I feel that strongly, but I did walk away with a much deeper understanding of how a compelling story is built, as well as some tools for achieving that.
If your interested, and live in the Greater Dayton area, I'll be giving a talk on what I learned at Word's Worth Writing on Tuesday, April 6, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
One of the things I'll discuss is value changes.
According to McKee, every story has an overarching value that changes, from positive to negative or vice versa, over the course of the story. And with every act, sequence, scene and beat within the story.
Each value has a contrary value, which is different, a contradictory value, which is the opposite, and a negation of the negation, which essentially erases the value from the map.
For example, if the value is Love, the contrary value is indifference, the contradictory value is hate, and the negation of the negation is hatred masquerading as love.
Ordinary stories, such as the movies you see on Lifetime Network, change from the value to the contrary value. No great depths of emotion, just workaday stories at a household level.
Good stories change from the value to the contradictory value. Because this change goes deeper, we resonate with, and remember, these stories a lot more. This describes most well-written Hollywood and TV stories.
Great stories move from the value to the negation of the negation. These are the stories that become classics. One example is Ordinary People, where we learn that Mary Tyler Moore, though she pretends to love her second son, actually hates him. Not because of anything he's done, but just because she never wanted a second child, and couldn't rise to that. If you've ever seen this movie, the emotions played out on the screen will haunt you.
As he opened the seminar, McKee said, "It's not just about what you'd give to be a writer. It's about what you'd give up."
He went on to list some of the things you may have to abandon in order to write:
o Family time
o Watching TV
I'll add a few more to that:
o Home-cooked food
o A clean house
o Regular exercise
But even with those sacrifices, I'm not coming up with enough time to spend on my novel. So, regretfully, I've decided to prune my blogging back to one post a week. I'm hoping, though not promising, to pen thoughtful, creative posts that will benefit from receiving a full week of exposure.
I may continue to post Old Jokes intermittently, just because they're easy. I don't write them; I just share them. We'll see how that goes.
I probably won't do contests anymore, because they also take a lot time. If someone wants to pick up that gauntlet, help yourself!
I'll continue to pop around and visit my fellow bloggers, because symbiosis is the backbone of Blogland--and because I'd miss you guys if I never saw you.
See you on Monday!