Watson likely stories

I <3 Robert McKee

Sick. Sick sick sick. Cancelled my sessions at the gym I'm so sick. Instead I ran my pally around to all the candy buckets in the world of Azeroth and did nearly all the Halloween achievements. Joy. Wish I had enough brainpower to write instead. Maybe I will today?

During my plane flight on Wednesday, I read Robert McKee's Story, which goes on an ultra-short list of books about writing I've found useful. The list is three books long, in truth:
* John Gardner's The Art of Fiction, on how fiction accomplishes its effects
* Dwight V Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer, on how stories are constructed
* Robert McKee, Story, on how to construct stories for film

The Swain and the McKee cover similar ground, though the former's writing about prose and the latter about screenplays. For instance, both of them talk about action-reaction pairs, and both are obsessed with ways to build conflict. McKee, because he's writing about film and film has to be economical, boils it until it reduces to essentials. Every scene has to have movement, every action shown has to be notable in some way. McKee also writes about how the success of a story often depends on the depth and complexity of the antagonistic forces. That made me think. I had the sense throughout of "oh, yes, duh, of course it has to work that way." Quite satisfying.

He had me at this graf:
Over the last twenty-five years, however, the method of teaching creative writing in American universities has shifted from the intrinsic to the extrinsic. Trends in literary theory have drawn professors away from the deep sources of story toward language, codes, text-- story seen from the outside.
The analysis one does after the fact is not the same as the thinking one does when creating.

I'll do McKee's seminar, I think. I got that much out of it. (And damn! I could have extended my London stay and done it there. Ha.)
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I'll have to get those-- though maybe I should wait to read any more About writing until after Nano. Though my goal this year is mostly to help Wee Hob make his, and just dabble a bit on some of my stuff.

I have been reading a couple of "real" novels recently, though, and thinking about writing in new ways. I realized that just like when I program I sort of have an overview of "I want to do something that does this" in my head, I tend to approach stories sometimes like that. Either I start with a powerful image (to me) and let it lead me somewhere, or I have some overarching thing I want to explore, and let that lead me somewhere. Or not. At some point I have to take a little narrower view, I think, and also put a lot more into planning and structure. To actually know Where something is leading me and how I plan to get there.

The novels? Hemmingway's The Sun Also Rises and Joyce's Ulysses. I kind of like the latter, now that I have skipped most of the intro when I realized it was going to go on for another 50 or so pages and Nano starts at Midnight.....

Hope you feel better.
From your fingertips to my Barnes and Noble dot com cart...Have already ordered, because reading about writing is so much easier for me than simply buckling down and wading through the muck of actual writing. Good masturbatory fun, too, but educational. I learned a lot from Swain. Nothing that is evident, mind you, but the info's twirling around in there somewhere, deep in the recesses of my brain. I remain hopeful that it will one day be put to good use, so, thanks for the rec! :)

Ooh, and I hope you're feeling better soon. Being sick sucks. You have my sympathy.