My class notes on "Story," by Robert McKee.
Lotta useful links on this book at http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special%3ABookSources&isbn=1592575382
Notation syntax is (PAGENUMBER)"P"(PARAGRAPHNUMBER)"L"(LINENUMBER)(IFCOUNTFROMBOTTOM=YES)"b"
...so 4P3L2b = Page 4, Paragraph 3, Line 2 from the bottom of the paragraph. 4P3L2 (with no b) is Page 4, Paragraph 3, Line 2 from the top of the paragraph. Also "&" applies the notation to the subsequent value, so 18P2&4 applies to paragraphs 2 and 4 on page 18. "-" indicates a range. One of you geeks get on this and we can network socially by our book notes! Geek squee!
4P1:Universal human experience wrapped in a cultural expression.
12P3:The satisfaction of painful emotions through experiencing their meaning.
12P4:A fresh model of like with an emotional meaning.
15P4:What do you know about yourself? Why do you react to life the way you do? Write that.
16P3:Desire, forces of antagonism, action, crisis, climax.
18P2&4:People, places and things are more than they seem. Insight into inner lives of individuals and groups. Embrace the listener. Build story out of ashes of climax of previous story.
19P3:Who are these people? What do they want? Why do they want what they want? How do they go about getting it? What stops them? What are the consequences? How do the consequences change them? Loop again to beginning.
21:Declare something you love about what it means to be human and write with the above formula.
28P3:Squeeze what it's like to be human out of every detail.
34P2b:Every event is in a story for a reason.
41:Story=my life. Act=climactic set of scenes. Scene=joke of sequences of action and reaction that changes one of my states of being irreversibly.
99P2:What can you create that you'd wait in line in the rain to see?
110-111: Thinking determines the sensory experience of the story. The story is the sensory experience. So stories aren't intellectual, but intellect drives the shiny objects and beeps and whistles. How would I provide meaningful emotional experience to an illiterate? Emotional experience through sensory experience. Creating emotional experience with sensory experience is the intellectual challenge.
114P1:Never explain. Only prove.
115:The better you say one thing, the more meaning people will get.
119-120:Idea versus counter-idea with setup and punchline.
137P4&5:A protagonist has willpower that sustains desire through conflict and creates meaningful, irreversible change.
138:A protagonist knows what they want today, tomorrow, next week, next year, and at life's end, and discovers new stuff they want.
139:A protagonist believes they have a chance to get what they want and convinces others to also believe that the protagonist has a chance to get it.
140:A protagonist pursues what they want to the end of their human limits. Therefore, what you want is what you're willing to go to the end of your human limitations to get.
140:Act toward an outcome in such a way that no one can imagine any other outcome.
141:Remind people of themselves in a way that makes people want you to succeed.
142-143:You don't have to get people to like you. You just have to remind them of themselves.
143P4:Start solving a problem of achieving a goal with minimal, safest action.
144P1b:In stories you start by using the minimal, safest action to solve a problem or achieve a goal and the world responds antagonistically.
147: 1) Goal -> 2) minimal safest action -> 3) antagonistic reaction (intrinsic or extrinsic) -> 4) action with greater risk (loop 3 to 4 as needed) -> irrevocable success or failure
148P2b:Reality is how the world reacts to you, so acceptance, understanding and respect creates a world of acceptance, understanding and respect for people whose worlds you occupy.
149:A protagonist has to risk losing something worthwhile.
151:Plot idea:A self-actualized person descends down Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, enticed by the needs just below them.
153P1b:If I were who I wanted to be, what would I do?
177P4:If I were this character in these circumstances, what would I do? How would the world respond? What's the opposite of that? Write the opposite.
179P3:The gap between expectation and reality isn't just the substance of comedy, but also the substance of story.
196P1:The unconscious desire is the transcendent desire in harmony with and unrefuted by any conscious desires or differences among them.
206P4:What's the worst possible thing that could happen? how could that turn out to be the best possible thing that could happen? Or vice-versa?
234P1b:Punchlines:surprise, increased curiosity, insight and new direction.
237P2:Watch this conflict. You expect this result, don't you? Watch this unexpected reality. Insight is the audience's reward for paying attention.
238P3:Don't speak. Act with insight. Don't quote. Describe insightful action.
241P2:How can the payoff set up the next payoff?
250:3-prong choice with a "no choice" choice.
249P2:All choices are betwwn two irreconcilable goods or the lesser of two evils.
255P2:Story idea:A couple both afraid they're losing the other. Fear breaks them up. Both motivated by avoiding fear. Through-line is "relationships take courage even when all the other elements of a relationship are in harmony. Without courage, you're nothing."
257-259:React to the motivation you want them to have for what they said and did.