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Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  473 ratings  ·  62 reviews
The long-awaited follow-up to the perennially bestselling writers' guide Story, from the most sought-after expert in the art of storytelling.

Robert McKee's popular writing workshops have earned him an international reputation. The list of alumni with Oscars runs off the page. The cornerstone of his program is his singular book, Story, which has defined how we talk about t
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Twelve (first published 2016)
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Jeff Think of it this way; watching a ping-pong match is interesting. Watching an outdoor ping-pong match on a windy day is more interesting. Heisenberg is…moreThink of it this way; watching a ping-pong match is interesting. Watching an outdoor ping-pong match on a windy day is more interesting. Heisenberg is that wind. Godot is that wind. The cultural gap between India and Europe is that wind. It's the third element in a conflict.(less)

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4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  473 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Bran Gustafson
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-writing
If you write stories, you'll probably want to read this book on dialogue. I've been a big fan of McKee's "Story" for a while, which in my mind is probably the best book about writing stories I've read.

Like "Story," "Dialogue" eschews easy answers and formula and goes deep, explaining the hard work you'll need to do to write good dialogue. Ironically, for me it's actually made writing dialogue harder--not easier--because I've realized I'm not putting the proper thought and work into it. With McKe
G.H. Eckel
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't like this book at the start. It's very scholarly, academic and overly complicated--pretty far from the actual experience of writing a novel. A writer just wants to know how to write better. Don't give me a jigsaw puzzle with 2000 pieces. This book seemed like reading a PhD thesis on how to swing a golf club. Great but it won't improve your game. It takes hacking at the ball to improve.

My opinion changed part way through. I found that i was picking up a few good nuggets here and there: t
Paula Cappa
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The art of dialogue. How does a writer get it just right to be effective, yet original, dramatic but not too dramatic, captivating and satisfying, and most important of all convincing? The thrust of this book is how McKee spends time on characterizations and the art of the subtext—vital to thrilling and effective dialogue. McKee explains how subtext works, the thinking behind it, shows you its most effective moments, why it works well or poorly, and gives you the tools to make it work. The resul ...more
Ksenia Anske
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Like a hand in the dark, guiding you to writing great dialogue and encouraging you along the way. The kind of book that feels like your very own private teacher who's always there for you. And what insights! I didn't want it to end. More, please.
Flaviu Vescan
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book does a great job showing you the importance of good dialogue in all fiction mediums.
I grew to have a deeper appreciation for it and after reading just a few chapters I found myself paying more attention to dialogue wherever I could find it.

Combined with Story (by McKee) it becomes a powerful package for amateur writers.
I'll have to re-read both of them in the future since they pack a condensed punch of useful information and insight.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muy bueno, como todos los libros de Mckee. Válido, además, para guionistas y autores literarios. Con ejemplos prácticos tanto de pelis como de novelas. Excelente redacción y sin irse por las ramas.
Claire Luana
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just finished this book and highly recommend for writers who want to hone their dialogue skills!
Jake Jones
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly? Another essential read from McKee for the aspiring writer. You're kidding yourself if you think you can master story with zero guidance.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Words about saying words. Not so terrible. I recommend if you have trouble getting characters to say things.
Mostafa Azizi
کتاب بسیار خوبی ست اما ترجمهی فارسی آن به دلم ننشست. وقتی تازه این کتاب منتظر شده بود دیدم محمد گذرآبادی که به خوبی سالها پیش داستان مککی را ترجمه کرده بود دستبهکار ترجمهی این کتاب هم شد اما دیگر از ایران آمدم نفهمیدم چه بر سر ترجمهی آن آمد دوستی این را برایام فرستاد.
البته ترجمهی این کتاب بسیار دشوار است چون بحث کلامی در آن وابسته به زبان انگلیسی زیاد صورت گرفته. شاید هم محمد نخواسته شهرت خودش در ترجمهی اول را ضایع کنه.
Quicksilver Quill
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
He’s back . . .

If you’re familiar with Robert McKee, you’ve likely already pored over his magnum opus Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting, or perhaps even attended one of his famous three-day story seminars.

One thing is certain: this man is serious about storytelling—and he knows a thing or two about the craft that he’d like to share with the rest of us scribblers, screenwriters, moviegoers, bibliophiles, or curiosity seekers as the case may be.

Now, nearly
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
at first I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the terms and new notions popping out of the pages but as I went further things became clearer and I really enjoyed learning from it. so i'd say it's a must read for anyone who wants to pursue writing or who's interested in finding out what's happening behind the curtains
Spencer Borup
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's pretty much impossible to unpack how brilliant this book is without reading it yourself. And I'm not sure I'll be able to fully process and then apply McKee's genius until I've read through Dialogue two or three times, with a highlighter in hand.

McKee makes bold, hyperbolic statements about storytelling, and when you first hear them you want to laugh and scoff at his almost I-dare-you-to-disagree opinions. But then, he follows his strong statements with clear, detailed examples, one after t
Anna Richland
Apr 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018-challenge
DNF. I was listening to the audiobook, and the narrator had one of those slightly condescending, slightly nasal, very "measured" voices that just grated on me. It bordered on soporific, and my mind wandered the whole time. I tried multiple different times to listen, I skipped ahead, but the material did not overcome the dull narrator.

Long passages of "speech" from decades-old literary fiction were used to illustrate various types of dialog. While that may work in the book form, where the speech
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found McKee very repetitive in this book, but still helpful. Not as revelatory a manual for me as Story - his chef d'oeuvre - but this book contains useful reminders and analyses.
Bill Powers
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! It does cover much more than "Dialogue". It's one of those books that you'll go back to often.
Hank Quense
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-writing
A very difficult book to read. The ebook is severely overpriced
It's useful to have a compendium of different techniques and issues relating to dialogue, and when McKee resorts to real examples, he is able to set out some convincing and interesting examples that can open up vistas for writers all levels. In particular I liked his use of a scene from Agnes of God to focus on the need for action-reaction to be wholly natural, that is, for the key word requiring a response to strike at the end, although one could argue that a good dialogue writer, or just a goo ...more
Jon Stonecash
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I an a learner. My preferred mode of learning is to read and then try out simple examples of what I have learned. I am random, abstract. I am comfortable with bits of knowledge cluttering up my brain in apparent disarray. I knew that if I kept on learning things, at some point, an event would trigger a re-arrangement of that knowledge into a more useful form.

That re-arrangement would not make me smarter. If anything, I would be more ignorant than I had been before the switching around of concept
Newton Nitro
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-guides
Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen - Robert McKee| 336 páginas, Twelve, 2016 | #guiaparaescritores #dicasparaescritores | Lido de 02.05.17 a 05.05.17 NITROLEITURAS

“Dialogue” é o livro mais recente do mega-guru dos roteiristas americanos, o impressionante Robert McKee, famoso pelo seu “Story”, que reli a pouco tempo.

Como diz o título, “Dialogue” é uma espécie de mega-guia doidimais para a criação de diálogos. E realmente, nunca vi uma análise tão detalhada sobre a art
Ted Sibly
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Other teachers tell us that Shakespeare was a great writer. McKee shows by excerpts from Julius Caesar exactly how he used subtext and avoided on the nose dialogue. Cassius tries to persuade Brutus to join him in a plot to overthrow and kill Caesar. First, McKee presents Cassius's words in clear, direct on the nose dialogue. An exciting, dangerous turning point comes across as tame and boring and unconvincing. Then, McKee quotes the original script and explicates several words and phrases to sh ...more
Raul Duarte
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen es un libro escrito por Robert McKee y nos habla del arte de escribir diálogos, lo que deben de tener, como analizarlos, básicamente saber cuando es necesario que un personaje hable y que cuando hable, hable bien ya que escribir un diálogo es muy fácil pero escribir un buen diálogo…

Robert McKee es el que escribió el libro “el guion” o the story, en ese libro da los pilares necesarios para poder construir una historia, un buen guion,
Matt Ward
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was quite excellent and a must read for all writers of fiction. Note: the book is NOT about how two characters converse with each other. This touches upon all aspects of prose, because even exposition is a type of dialogue between the narrative perspective and the reader.

The most useful part to me was the constant reiteration of how great works and complex characters use subtext. People rarely say what they mean or what they think. When your fictional characters do this, they come across as
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Dialogue. Both the thing itself and this book. What a great reminder of things I believe most writers already know, but have never expressed before. I love McKee's affection for the spoken word, rather than the disdain I feel permeates modern writing (particularly screenwriting). His explanations of the importance of exposition. It isn't about avoiding it entirely, but knowing when information needs to be dispensed and feel natural - not just an info dump to progress your plot. His study ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Do you know the following: exposition, subtext, three-act structure, inciting incident, and all the terms associated with screenwriting? Do you have enough skill at writing dialogue so it reads like people speaking and not just shooting the shit? Don't even open this book. While this may have some value to a first year student, there are so many other books about writing screenplays and, aside from the writer's personal preferences in each one, are pretty much the same. You've read one, you've r ...more
Amanda Clay
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Phew! That was dense. I admit, at first I questioned my decision to read this book and it took me awhile to get into it. But it had been highly recommend by some trustworthy writers, so I kept pushing. About halfway through it started to click! The book is a bit academic, verbose and overly-complicated at times, but if you can stick with it, you really start to enjoy the rhythm of Mr. McKee's words. And he truly is a master of the craft. He breaks down sentence structure to a sharp science and r ...more
Courtney Kleefeld
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
Robert McKee has a good philosophy when it comes to storytelling and writing in general. I like his perspective. He uses some really intriguing examples from books and then plays around with the different ways it could have been written and why it was more effective in the way it had originally been written. In the end of it, there's a list of questions to help you think about what motivates your characters and what their individual "script" is. It's written in such a way that will help script-w ...more
Kenzie Townsend
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that grabbed me and after several long pauses I'm finally finished.I felt myself trying to find an exception to his presented ideas. Fighting, all these great case studies so I'd rest for a few days and come back. It's a textbook quality reference for every nuance of dialogue. It flows in and out of this creative space and I just read trying to label everything. Rather, when I finally understood to just like any great story, to just listen. I'd have to read it again to take in the ...more
Ocean .
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book thrilled me, over and over! I found myself thinking, “Wow” too many times to count. McKee shares valuable concepts about creating powerful dialogue and offers solid advice about how dialogue affects the development of characters and the story. These tips and techniques, I feel, will take my writing to the next level. I’ll be re-reading this to make sure my brain captures as much of his words of wisdom as possible. IMHO, this is one of those ‘must reads’ for a writer along with his clas ...more
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
compassion and too complex ruins comedy. I find it ties back to what most writing books do which is talk about conflict. his breakdowns at the ends are pretty cool although almost none of the examples I have read (maybe says more about me then the book though) the bit at the end on writing if you were the character was splitting hairs as I think anyone who has tried to write knows that all the charters are different versions of themselves. but a good reminder.
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Robert McKee began his show business career at age nine playing the title role in a community theatre production of MARTIN THE SHOEMAKER. He continued acting as a teenager in theatre productions in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Upon receiving the Evans Scholarship, he attended the University of Michigan and earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature. While an undergraduate, he acted in ...more
“Creativity isn't learning the right answers but asking the strongest questions.” 1 likes
“Dialogue concentrates meaning; conversation dilutes it.” 1 likes
More quotes…