Sunday, August 17, 2008

...coming late to the party.

A long time ago, and yes--this is one of "those" stories. Two people by the name of Robin Perini and Laura Baker discovered Robert McKee's Story, and interpreted it in a way that made it easy for romance writers to understand. At that time, using screen-writing techniques for fiction was pretty outrageous. Back then, the big "had to have" book was Kathryn Falk's, How to Write a Romance and Get it Published.

All the best writing techniques springboard off established theory. Pre-Perini and Baker, there was the Writer's Digest Bookshelf. Goal Conflict and Motivation. World-Building. Dialog. Joseph Campbell and Mythic Structure. "The Hero's Journey", and archetypes. Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer, the direct predecessor of Goal Motivation and Conflict.

...and then, Perini found us Story.

When I first discovered Story Magic it was another one of those things everyone was talking about. People had adopted it as gospel. This happens here, so this has to happen here, and is it time for this to happen? Most of us first heard the phrase, "turning point" in a Perini lecture. Sort of like telephone, it morphed and changed. I don't think she'd ever meant it to be carved in stone.

I was enthralled by her two hour lecture on Layering Complexity through the use of subplots and secondary characters . I listened to it over and over, trying to figure out how it applied to me, and each time I listened--I heard, "Story, by Robert Mckee. I know it's expensive, but if you can..."

And I realized, somehow this book is very important to this woman. So I bought it (yes, it was, and still is, very expensive), read it, and went, "Oh my God, this is the source material."

From a structural standpoint, Story is an incredible tour-de-force. Perfectly diagrammed and explained. It was just lacking something I later found in Peter Dunne's Emotional Structure, which is hands down--still my favorite writing book.

Together, the two books are mirror halves of a whole.

I only listened to Michael Hague's Identity to Essence lecture because someone told me they were good. They weren't "good", they were incredible. Like the procrastinator I am, I put off getting the 07 series because I wasn't in Dallas, but Hague did a return trip. His lecture Unifying Plot and Character Arc is worth more than all the time I'm putting into it. So far, I've listened to it three times. Each time I bring away more. There's a lot to be said for the screen-writing approach to writing novels, but the funny thing is--every new technique and approach screenwriters create, works with, and builds on the work of other screenwriters.

6 comments:

Jeanna said...

I find it endearing that you can be enthralled by a two hour lecture of any kind.

jodi said...

lol--what can I say? I'm a horrible geek.

It's at the 14 minute mark on the cd player in my car.

...and I did have a point to my post, just got tired and lost track. I'll have to find it again later.

Jeanna said...

You're a lot smarter than me, aren't you? And what makes you think I can throw that far? Especially northward.

jodi said...

lol--who was it that said it's better to be a smart ass than a dumb ass? lol....

Jeanna, I wouldn't put it past you to design a chocolate box that when you open it flips out a hand and hits the recipient in the face with a whipped cream pie. *sigh* the good old days when "Pie in the Face" (the game) was still popular.

Jeanna said...

Gee I don't know, Sophie Tucker, Red from That 70s Show, my smart ass nephew, Guido?
You've been thinking of that chocolate box design for some time, haven't you? There was some kiddie game show with Pie In The Face as one of the obstacles wasn't there? In the sixties I think.

Alice Audrey said...

It's better to be a smart ass than a dumb ass? Heck yeah! I love smart asses but have not time for dumb asses.