Robert McKee’s famous lecture’s and books on screenwriting (love them or hate them) have been influential and helpful for thousands of professional and amateur screenwriters. Here are several of my all time favorites.
“We rarely know where we are going; writing is a discovery.”
“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”
“Beyond imagination and insight, the most important component of talent is perseverance-the will to write and rewrite in pursuit of perfection. Therefore, when inspiration sparks the desire to write, the artist immediately asks: Is this idea so fascinating, so rich in possibility, that I want to spend months, perhaps years, of my life in pursuit of its fulfillment? Is this concept so exciting that I will get up each morning with the hunger to write? Will this inspiration compel me to sacrifice all of life’s other pleasures in my quest to perfect its telling? If the answer is no, find another idea. Talent and time are a writer’s only assets. Why give your life to an idea that’s not worth your life?”
“Awkward exposition. To convenience the writer, characters tell each other what they all already know so the eavesdropping reader/audience can gather in the information. This false behavior causes the reader/audience to lose empathy.”
“Rewriting is to writing what improvisation is to acting. Actors improvise scenes countless ways in search of the perfect choice of behavior and expression. The same is true for writers. All writers, no matter their talent, are capable of their best work only ten percent of the time. Ninety percent of any writer’s creative efforts are not his or her best work. To eliminate mediocrity, therefore, fine writers constantly experiment, play with, toss and turn ideas for scenes tens of different ways, rewriting in search of the perfect choice. The perfect choice, of course, is dependent of the writer’s innate sense of taste. The unfortunate truth is that most struggling writers are blind to their banality.”
And how could we leave out this gem from Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze’s metafilm, ADAPTATION?
Robert McKee is played by Brian Cox.
Check out more great quotes at 50 Inspiring Screenwriting Quotes, or leave your favorites in the comments section below!