This is a really difficult book for me to rate. At the time I first read it fifteen years ago, it did wonders to open me up creatively. I was still st...moreThis is a really difficult book for me to rate. At the time I first read it fifteen years ago, it did wonders to open me up creatively. I was still struggling to slough off some negative parental programming about being a writer, and this book (along with a good friend) helped give me permission to explore that side of myself.
Since that time, however, my belief system has changed so radically that I no longer agree with a number of the book’s fundamental premises. For this reason, it would be hard for me to recommend it now. I do think it contains some good material in the form of useful exercises and uplifting stories about creative development. But those come with heavy doses of New Age spirituality and recovery beliefs that will likely make the book inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t view the world through that filter. (less)
Robert McKee is the famous Hollywood screenwriting teacher gently poked fun at in the movie "Adaptation." Though that film could leave one with the im...moreRobert McKee is the famous Hollywood screenwriting teacher gently poked fun at in the movie "Adaptation." Though that film could leave one with the impression that McKee teaches formula storytelling, this book is about how good stories transcend formula to become great art.
McKee has a masterful understanding of the fundamentals of story itself, and he writes with clarity about the basic story tools every writer must develop in order to move beyond cliche and into something original. Using examples from famous films, McKee educates us as to why some stories grip us to our toes while others leave us yawning within the first few minutes. Though written with the screenwriter in mind, this book contains excellent specific and practical guidance on how to craft compelling stories that would be of value to anyone who works in the narrative arts. (less)
This book is a collection of short essays about the art and craft of writing creative nonfiction. It was born out of a special issue of Creative Nonfi...moreThis book is a collection of short essays about the art and craft of writing creative nonfiction. It was born out of a special issue of Creative Nonfiction magazine titled "A Million Little Choices," published in the wake of the James Frey scandal, in which the editors wished to present guidelines for this often misunderstood form and offer food for thought for writers in the medium.
The 30-odd pieces include the historical underpinnings of creative nonfiction, discussions of objectivity, memory, and reconstruction of events, as well as pieces on techniques such as time compression and composite characters. Responsibility to subjects and liability are also covered, as is the writer’s responsibility to make it clear to the reader where fact ends and imagination takes over.
Though the book covers multiple forms of creative nonfiction from narrative journalism to personal essay, the sections on memoir were particularly interesting to me. In one entertaining piece, the authors highlight the distinction between the self-obsessed reality television style of memoir and the memoir that uses a personal story to access a universal truth.
Most of these essays are quite short, just two or three pages in length. Despite their brevity, they manage to clarify certain key points about the form and raise provocative questions about others. Very useful food for thought for anyone interested in writing creative nonfiction (less)