Too Much Culture

Some advice for all aspiring writers.

Posted in Uncategorized by tneenan on 06/03/2010

With Last of the Summer Wine coming to a close it can be quite discouraging for young writers to think that their cherished works may well end up on the scrapheap after a meagre 37 years. If these feelings of discouragement start to cloud your own creative process, solace is often found in the words of a professional. As such please find below some selected pieces of wisdom from the titan of screenwriting Robert McKee. Hold onto your pens and get ready to be inspired!

A writer is a God made of ink, which is nothing.

“A writer must be the God of the world he creates. But because this world is created through ink, the writer is also an inky snake which slithers at the bottom of the world he creates watching it from below. These views, above and below make the writer a God again. The writer is still this slithery-inky-snake-God. If this creature were to try and chat up a woman, she would recoil, fearing the potential flecks on her white linen summer dress, and ignoring the art the creature may be hiding in its pouch.”

Charter is not character, never think this.

“You have created a character, is he your best friend? Bullshit he is your best friend. Your character would steal your pants from under you if you gave him half a chance, don’t trust your character. Put him in a dungeon but only when the story requires it.”

Speaking of story…

You are slave to story.  Go, get its laundry.

“The formula for all story is simple. Your character, lets call him/her protagonist A (PA) is the centre of the occasion. PA must equal or opposite Antagonist C (AC) and both must be divisible by Protagonist’s Friend N (PFN). If you have structured your story correctly all of this should add together to produce your Act 1. If PA is greater than AC, this can be balanced by the division of Goal 6 (G6) and motivator # (M#). And that’s your story. Now stop sitting there and write it.”

You don’t speak dialogue, you “say” dialogue.

Always speak your dialogue out loud. And by that I mean scream your dialogue. If your dialogue sounds good even if it’s being bellowed at the top of your voice, you’ve got good dialogue. If the dick in the internet cafe asks you to leave, it needs a little work. Try it now: ‘Hi James, what’s the 411?’ ‘Yeah, good, although I think my house is being haunted, by the ghost… of the shed!’ Actually that’s pretty good. Okay that’s mine you can’t have that…”

Scene description is like your ex wife’s boyfriend’s number, use is rarely and wisely.

“I hate scene descriptions which go on for pages and pages. Keep it short, keep it sweet. Take this example: “John walks down the street, he is 35 and looks like John.” Don’t waste the readers time with pointless detail, is John fat or thin? Who cares? I wouldn’t give a shit if John got hit by a bus, actually that’s pretty good too…”

Always Carry a Notebook.

“When I’m typing there can sometimes be these sonofabitch flies buzzing round my head. When they land on my desk I get ‘em with my notebook. Feels good.”

I don’t think Robert McKee actually said any of this, but its still good advice.


5 Responses

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  1. nlin said, on 06/04/2010 at 12:47 pm

    Hello 🙂

    Sound advice & all noted…
    If you look at my blog your see its mainly short shorts & doodles of thoughts but that seems to be my style.
    Although I have writted two film/movie scipits.
    I’ve been to many writters sites like BCC writersroom, but found them very restrictive
    i.e. you can only use X amount of words?
    I write I need to use words!
    At this point I will add I’m dyslexia and yes I did use a dictionary to spell it!
    But I’ve always thought this gave me the upper hand, we tend to see the world inside out & backwards. Wich gives you a different take on,well everything really!
    Sorry I’m off on one…back to the point…
    I’d been very happy to hear any feed back on my work + how could I go about getting my work published. I’ve dreamed of the writings of Lucian Sinder being an odd little black bound book for year now.

    All the best & happy writing


    • tneenan said, on 06/23/2010 at 1:09 am

      Hi there, thanks,

      Sadly i cannot really offer much practical advice, I’ve certainly never had anything published, I just use this blog to poke fun at respected experts on screenwriting (very mature). I’ll check out you blog, though.



  2. Mark S said, on 06/04/2010 at 10:39 pm

    Personally I prefer to hit flies with my iPad. But otherwise good advice.

  3. Mark S said, on 06/04/2010 at 10:40 pm

    Now broken my iPad and the fly is still alive

  4. Mark S said, on 06/04/2010 at 10:42 pm

    Now using a notebook to hit the fly but its not working. Help!

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