Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting” as Want to Read:
Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  9,862 ratings  ·  900 reviews
Robert McKee's screenwriting workshops have earned him an international reputation for inspiring novices, refining works in progress and putting major screenwriting careers back on track. Quincy Jones, Diane Keaton, Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, John Cleese and David Bowie are just a few of his celebrity alumni. Writers, producers, development executives and agents all fl ...more
Hardcover, 466 pages
Published November 25th 1997 by It Books (first published 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Story, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Rachel It's great for all storytellers. I'd say it's the best guide to story I've read so far and Shawn Coyne's Story Grid is based on this.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
نمادسازی و شاعرانگی

کتاب «داستان» رابرت مک کی، هر چند آن قدرها نظرم را جلب نکرد، و بیشتر راجع به فیلمنامه بود تا داستان و آن هم فیلنامه های هالیوودی و در نتیجه بیشتر حول توضیح یک سری کلیشه ها بود، اما سه چهار بخش بسیار آموزنده داشت که علامت زدم تا بعداً باز هم بخوانم و دوره کنم.

یکی از این بخش ها، جایی است که راجع به شاعرانگی در فیلم و داستان می گوید. و فوری توضیح می دهد: منظور از شاعرانگی در داستان، ادبی بودن متن یا آوردن تصاویر زیبا از آسمان و کوه و دریا نیست. شاعرانگی زیبایی نیست. چه بسا گاهی ا
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

A superb book that illuminates the purpose of writing stories and the most effective approach to penning tales that transcend the ordinary.

Sep 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: other
I think this is the first time where I read a book solely based off a scene in a movie. The scene can be found here:

Lines like, "You cannot have a protagonist without desire! It doesn't make sense! ANY. F****NG. SENSE!" and "WHY THE F*** WOULD YOU WASTE MY TWO PRECIOUS HOURS WITH YOUR MOVIE? I DON'T HAVE ANY USE FOR IT! ANY. BLOODY. USE FOR IT!" more or less had me drooling. For those of you who don't know anything about Robert McKee, he's the writing tea
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Josh by: Charlie Kaufman's twin brother
YES! It took me six months, but I finally, finished this bitch.

The reason it took me six months was that Story is incredibly dense, and in the best possible way. If you want to understand what makes for a good story, and how and why they work, this is the book to read. But you'll need to read it slow because this is the kind of dense where you'll want to stop and think about what you just read after every few pages to make sure it really sinks in.

Though oriented primarily towards screenwriting,
Mahdi Lotfabadi
کتاب واقعاً خوبی بود و لذت بردم... نکتههای خیلی خوبی رو توش بهش اشاره میکنه! برای کسایی که میخوان فیلمنامهنویسی یاد بگیرن و یا فیلمنامه خوب رو از بد تشخیص بدن خوندنش خیلی میتونه مفید باشه! ...more
K.M. Weiland
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe it's taken me so long to read this book. I expected more of the same: structure, story elements, character tips. And those are certainly there. But Story actually deserves its tremendously broad title, because that's exactly what this book is: a discussion of *story.* It's theory and practicality all wrapped up into one module. McKee presents ideas I've never seen elsewhere, backed up by solid example after solid example and all in an extremely engaging and absorbing way. This is ...more

باه! خیلی خوب بود! با اینکه نوشته ساختار، سبک و اصول فیلمنامهنویسی و همۀ مثالهاش از سینماست، خیلی خیلی به ادبیات و داستان نزدیکه. به اندازۀ یه ترم کلاس آموزنده بود. باید بازم بخونمش، خیلی نیاز دارم بازم بخونمش.

یه عالم قلب برات رابرت مککی.
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
In a past life I did a professional writing degree for my undergraduate BA – half of which was in script writing. I wish we had been taught the stuff that is contained in this book. This is such a good book it is hard to praise it too highly. The advice is clear and all of it good. From avoiding adverbs and adjectives in your treatment to the psychology of interesting characters this book has many very important things to say to anyone thinking about writing a screenplay (or anything else, if yo ...more
Graeme Rodaughan
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-how-to
Putting this re-read aside - other priorities - still an excellent book.

This is the most useful book in my writing library. I literally read and reread this book until I had absorbed it's messages into the marrow of my bones.

An endlessly valuable resource that informs the basic structures both large and small of the stories that I write.

Worth reading even if you have no ambition to write for the insights that it will give you into the nature of story and narrative.

Written to support the developm
Manuel Antão
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1997
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Mach und Dach: "Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting" by Robert McKee

(Original review, 1997-11-30)

Aristotle's observations of drama, is very far from the early dramaturgy as 18th century Lessing for instance. In the twenties when dramaturgy started to become a subject on its own in Central Europe (where it started) there was already in the beginning two different approaches, the Pièce bien fait approa
Jerilyn Marler
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As a freelance editor of any type of writing, I am always searching for insight, wisdom, guidance, illumination about the many forms of writing that cross my desk. I'd heard about McKee's "Story" but shied away because screenwriting is so far removed from my usual work. Or so I thought. I bought the digital version on a whim thinking that it might prove useful someday as a reference book. I was immediately hooked and read it straight through. Then I went back and highlighted many passages for fu ...more
Ksenia Anske
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is not a book. This is like a school in a book. A master's degree. The amount of notes I took got out of hand, so I decided to just outright buy it, to have it handy. The best parts are the scene analysis chapters, which are pretty much the same for novel writing and screenwriting. Seeing a scene broken down into manageable bits has made it clear for me how to rewrite my scenes to make them better. Because if I can't write excellent scenes, I can't write an excellent book, period. So glad I ...more
Jul 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Robert 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 examp
Jana Bianchi
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: acquired
Apesar de ser um livro direcionado à escrita de roteiros, as peculiaridades desse formato são abordadas só nos últimos capítulos. Até lá, ele dá preciosos insights — mais do que lições — sobre a construção de histórias. Entendo a birra que alguns têm com o tom "definitivo" e até formulaico que o McKee assume em algumas partes porque realmente é o tipo de coisa que pode engessar contadores de história mais inseguros ou iniciantes, mas entendo a razão: vender um roteiro pra Hollywood é uma dinâmic ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you're a writer of drama or fiction, you need to master these rules before you consider breaking them.

I knew from an early age that I wanted to write stories, but it wasn't till I was about 17 that I learned that there are actual methods, principles, and techniques involved in storytelling, when I received as a gift a copy of The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri. Wow! What a revelation! I read it greedily.

Flash-forward to 1990. I was 31 and now had my own TV series, The Odyssey, in devel
Sousan Raie
این کتاب نه فقط برای کسانی که میخان فیلمنامه نویسی یاد بگیرن، بلکه به درد همه ادمای دیگه هم میخوره!
علتش هم اینه که مقدم بر یادگیری فیلمنامه نویسی، شما باید خودتونو بشناسید و بعد هم زندگی کردن رو یاد بگیرید تا در نهایت بتونید فیلمنامهی خوبی بنویسید.
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: cinema
The truth is that this whole concept of three acts and obligatory antagonist will make you unemployed screenwriter in 99,9% of cases. I know, I've witnessed it myself. In some ways the book is usefull, I think it gives pretty accurate analysis of turning points and different types of screenplays and genres, some other things maybe... But in general film bussiness has moved on from straight-forward "hero against something" concept, festival cinema and mass production for theatres and television a ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
McKee may be a great screenwriter, but I certainly hope his classes are less pompous and verbose than this book is. It's poorly edited, with too much preaching, and long lists of movie titles cited as examples of a particular point. Since the style is to use ALL QUOTES for titles, when he goes on for a third of a page it just gets annoying.
In his acknowledgements, he thanks someone for their omnivorous will to omit needless words - his wife. Obviously she was too close to it all to tell him to j
May 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
This is the text that went along with his three-day seminar that I attended. Although it is primarily focused on the screenplay, it is equally suitable for a novel, and there were quite a few novelists in attendance at the seminar. Although the focus is on traditional story structure—something McKee believes has become a lost art—his emphasis is so heavily on character, and writing from the inside out, that if well executed, a reader/viewer would not be consciously aware of the story's structure ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
به عقیده ی من مشخصه ی کتاب های آموزشی/فنی مرجع در گام آهسته ی آن هاست. این کتاب به صورت کامل این اصل را ارضا می کند. مطالب بسیار جزئی و فشرده ی این کتاب هرچند سرعت مطالعه ی آن (مطالعه ی صحیح همراه با یادداشت برداری و درک) را پایین می آورد ولی خواننده را حداقل به یک دید عالی جهت تمییز بین فیلمنامه ی خوب و بد می رساند، حتی اگر نتواند موفق به تولید یکی از آن ها شود.
Benoit Lelièvre
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A classic, but reads a little bit like a dictionary. Don't got through it from cover to cover, but open it when you need a refresher on story structure. Unequaled in depth and understanding of storytelling. If you really want to understand the nuts and bolts of writing narrative fiction, this is your go-to book.
Adam Page
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: potential screenwriters
I can understand how this book would be good for potential screenwriters; in fact, that's who this book is for exactly. However, the book does get tedious and has a lot of personal bias involved (a tendency that spills over into McKee's seminar, unfortunately). There is no story in "Story," so unless you are gung-ho about becoming a Hollywood writer, stay away from this one.
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
این کتاب ساختار هالیوودی سناریونویسی را به خوبی آموزش می دهد . این کتاب مقدس فیلنامه نویسان است .
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: movies, writing, top-shelf
Why are there so many bad movies out there? I mean seriously - you and I both know that of all the films that are released every year, we probably get only one or two that are actually good. There's some that are good enough to spend an afternoon watching, maybe enjoyable enough that we'll want to watch it again on DVD later. But so many are just... bad.

It is my own fault, I think, for seeing Transformers 2. I have no one to blame but myself.

The really scary thing is that, in the summer of Trans
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow. I mean it. For the would-be average screenwriter this is the best thing since sliced bread.
An excruciatingly insightful book- for a tyro, that is. 'Cause that's the angle I'm judging from.
My first thoughts upon reading the book- boy, am I lucky I stumbled upon this book and no other which might have been a disheartening bummer. I guess it's off the essence to start off on the right foot.
Getting down to brass tacks, I recommend this book to everyone who's looking for a no-nonsense, comprehe
Un valido manuale per sceneggiatori, più in generale per tutti quelli che vogliono imparare a costruire storie. È diviso in quattro parti:
1. Lo scrittore e l'arte della storia.
2. Gli elementi della storia.
3. I principi del disegno della storia.
4. Lo scrittore al lavoro.
Ho apprezzato molto la prima parte, moltissimo la seconda e la terza, un po’ meno la quarta. Però lo consiglio: mi ha dato modo di riflettere. Lo stile è chiaro, i paragrafi sono essenziali.
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
UPDATE: Once a year or so I get the urge to return to attempts at screenwriting: it's actually a cheap hobby that's a great mental exercise. In the past, I've bought stacks of books about screenwriting: this is one of a handful I've kept and referenced. It's a stupendously fast read with some very good points. My review below digresses away from the book itself, as all my reviews eventually tend to do, but all in all, McKee is as good as anyone else in Hollywood at kick-starting your career.
Julie Christine
Dec 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julie Christine by: Write-O-Rama/Richard Hugo House
I discovered "Story" during a writing workshop last fall. Although the book focuses on the creation of screenplays, its principles are directly applicable writing the short story and novel.

McKee is an old school storyteller, which suits me to a "T". He insists that the writer respect the audience desire to be entertained, but intelligently and with integrity. He provides a classic structure of plot, progression, character development within one simple but profound concept: the protagonist has a
Patrick Sherriff
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-writing
I usually race through how-to-write books in a day or two, but this one took me a month because it is so damned good. And what a month. I found myself wanting to underline sections and scribble in virtual exclamation points!!! In triplicate!!! On my Kindle!!! And I hate exclamation points!!! Because, well, it's not so much that McKee was telling me anything I hadn't read before in the writing-craft circuit, but dammit, the way he said it, the waaaaaay he said made this storytelling business fina ...more
Alex Ristea
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2013
If you only ever read one book on writing, this should be it.

Even if you're not an author, STORY will deepen your understanding of novels and movies. What makes a good plot? What drives character motivations? How do you deal with audience expectations?

Telling stories is one of the most defining characteristics of being a human. Learns to do it well, and learn how to appreciate it, too.

I read a lot about writing, but nothing has ever blown me away like this. It has everything, and I plan to keep
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Art of Dramatic Writing: Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives
  • The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script
  • The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers
  • Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting
  • The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
  • Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need
  • Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook: Hands-On Help for Making Your Novel Stand Out and Succeed
  • Story Engineering: Character Development, Story Concept, Scene Construction
  • The 101 Habits Of Highly Successful Screenwriters: Insider's Secrets from Hollywood's Top Writers
  • Making a Good Script Great
  • How to Grow a Novel: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Overcome Them
  • The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
  • Cinematic Storytelling
  • Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer
  • The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style (Hollywood Standard: The Complete & Authoritative Guide to)
  • 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
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
“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure - the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature.” 120 likes
“A fine work of art - music, dance, painting, story - has the power to silence the chatter in the mind and lift us to another place.” 76 likes
More quotes…