Thursday, January 17, 2008

What I'm Reading...

Long ago, back when I was still dating material, I went out with a reporter who's now the weekend editor of a prestigious newspaper. (In other words, the guy was bright.)

Anyway, we were sitting at the Sagebrush Cantina having dinner and discussing--what else?--the South's perspective on the Civil War. At one point, he said something to me that I've pondered ever since (obviously, since I'm recounting it now). He said: "Sometimes I think you understand the abstract better than you do the concrete."

Well, I didn't know whether to feel praised or berated--that's how bright I was--so I settled on flattered, grateful he'd analyzed me at all (that's how young I was).

And I never forgot what he said.

Because unlike people who aren't as smart as they think they are, I'm painfully aware that I'm not as hip to stuff as I'd like to be. ::Sigh::

Which brings me to the book I'm reading (yes, there's a point to all this). Robert McKee's infamous Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting. All I can say is, wow! (Yeah, and I fancy myself a writer.) Seriously, I wanna click click click over to Amazon and shove ten copies in my shopping cart for my writing friends. I mean, this thing is in a league of its own.

Why, you may ask, screenwriting? Am I switching paths? Nope. But STORY isn't only about screenwriting, it's about, er, STORY. More importantly, McKee ferrets out the philosophy behind good storytelling which, as I've said all along, is not my strong point. I've read about a quarter of the book, and I now see writing in a whole new light.

How COOL is THAT??

The good news is that I already unconsciously incorporate various storytelling techniques in my writing--some because I've been an avid reader all my life, others because I have indeed studied the craft. But it's knowing why these techniques work--and learning to consciously include them that will undoubtedly not only improve my writing, but make it less fraught with self-induced torture.

And yes...I daresay it's the abstract way in which McKee presents his material that's causing all the epiphanies.

I hate it when men are right about me.

1 comment:

Carol B. said...

I've had that book for at least two years. Haven't read it yet. I'm not much for straight reading of craft books.

I'm glad it's working for you, though!