Robert McKee Famous Quotes & Sayings

100 Robert McKee Famous Sayings, Quotes and Quotation.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Pinterest Share on Linkedin

What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens. Robert McKee Sayings: What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens.
Boredom is the inner conflict we suffer when we lose desire, when we lack a lacking. Robert McKee Sayings: Boredom is the inner conflict we suffer when we lose desire, when we lack a
The universal erosion of values has lead to the universal erosion of story. Robert McKee Sayings: The universal erosion of values has lead to the universal erosion of story.
When you do enough research, the story almost writes itself. Lines of development spring loose and you'll have choices galore. Robert McKee Sayings: When you do enough research, the story almost writes itself. Lines of development spring loose
There is no screenplay-writing recipe that guarantees your cake will rise. Robert McKee Sayings: There is no screenplay-writing recipe that guarantees your cake will rise.
Politics is the name we give to the orchestration of power in any society. Robert McKee Sayings: Politics is the name we give to the orchestration of power in any society.
The mark of a master is to select only a few moments, but give us a lifetime. Robert McKee Sayings: The mark of a master is to select only a few moments, but give us
Creativity is choice-making. Robert McKee Sayings: Creativity is choice-making.
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. Robert McKee Sayings: A fine work of art - music, dance, painting, story - has the power to
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. Robert McKee Sayings: True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure - the
Story is about originality, not duplication Robert McKee Sayings: Story is about originality, not duplication
The famous axiom "Show, don't tell" is the key. Never force words into a character's mouth to tell the audience about world, history, or person. Rather, show us honest, natural scenes in which human beings talk and behave in honest, natural ways...yet at the same time indirectly pass along the necessary facts. In other words, dramatize exposition. Dramatized exposition serves two ends: Its primary purpose is to further the immediate conflict. Its secondary purpose is to convey information. The anxious novice reverses that order, putting expositional duty ahead of dramatic necessity. Robert McKee Sayings: The famous axiom "Show, don't tell" is the key. Never force words into a character's
When people want to sound smart, they add syllables to words, words to sentences, sentences to paragraphs, paragraphs to books. They try to make up in quantity and complexity what they lack in quality. That's bullshit! They're just hiding their bullshit! Robert McKee Sayings: When people want to sound smart, they add syllables to words, words to sentences, sentences
God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you. That's flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write a voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character. Robert McKee Sayings: God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you.
Do research. Feed your talent. Research not only wins the war on cliche, it's the key to victory over fear and it's cousin, depression. Robert McKee Sayings: Do research. Feed your talent. Research not only wins the war on cliche, it's the
To get the truth, you want to get your own heart to pound while you write. Robert McKee Sayings: To get the truth, you want to get your own heart to pound while you
Story Climax is the fourth of the five-part structure. This crowning Major Reversal is not necessarily full of noise and violence. Rather, it must be full of meaning. If I could send a telegram to the film producers of the world, it would be these three words: "Meaning Produces Emotion." Not money; not sex; not special effects; not movie stars; not lush photography. Robert McKee Sayings: Story Climax is the fourth of the five-part structure. This crowning Major Reversal is not
A culture cannot evolve without honest, powerful storytelling. When a society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed-out, pseudo-stories, it degenerates. We need true satires and tragedies, dramas and comedies that shine a clean light into the dingy corners of the human psyche and society. Robert McKee Sayings: A culture cannot evolve without honest, powerful storytelling. When a society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed-out,
We realize we can't go around saying and doing what we're actually thinking and feeling. If we all did that, life would be a lunatic asylum. Indeed, that's how you know you're talking to a lunatic. Lunatics are those poor souls who have lost their inner communication and so they allow themselves to say and do exactly what they are thinking and feeling and that's why they're mad. Robert McKee Sayings: We realize we can't go around saying and doing what we're actually thinking and feeling.
The Law of Diminishing Returns is true of everything in life, except sex, which seems endlessly repeatable with effect. Robert McKee Sayings: The Law of Diminishing Returns is true of everything in life, except sex, which seems
Designing story tests the maturity and insight of the writer, his knowledge of society, nature, and the human heart. Story demands both vivid imagination and powerful analytic thought. Self-expression is never an issue, for, wittingly or unwittingly, all stories, honest and dishonest, wise and foolish, faithfully mirror their maker, exposing his humanity ... or lack of it. Robert McKee Sayings: Designing story tests the maturity and insight of the writer, his knowledge of society, nature,
As he chooses, he is. Robert McKee Sayings: As he chooses, he is.
Superficial knowledge leads to a bland, monotonous telling. With authorial knowledge we can prepare a feast of pleasures. Or at the very least, add humor. Robert McKee Sayings: Superficial knowledge leads to a bland, monotonous telling. With authorial knowledge we can prepare a
When society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed-out, pseudo-stories, it degenerates. Robert McKee Sayings: When society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed-out, pseudo-stories, it degenerates.
Never sleep with anybody who has more problems than you do. Robert McKee Sayings: Never sleep with anybody who has more problems than you do.
( ... )while it's true that the unexamined life is not worth living, it's also true that the unlived life isn't worth examining. Robert McKee Sayings: ( ... )while it's true that the unexamined life is not worth living, it's also
Eavesdrop on any coffee shop conversation and you'll realize in a heartbeat you'd never put that slush onscreen. Real conversation is full of awkward pauses, poor word choices and phrasing, non sequiturs, pointless repetitions; it seldom makes a point or achieves closure. But that's okay because conversation isn't about making points or achieving closure. It's what psychologists call "keeping the channel open." Talk is how we develop and change relationships. Robert McKee Sayings: Eavesdrop on any coffee shop conversation and you'll realize in a heartbeat you'd never put
In a world of lies and liars, an honest work of art is always an act of social responsibility. Robert McKee Sayings: In a world of lies and liars, an honest work of art is always an
We often see films with a cast of excellent characters...except one, who's dreadful. We wonder why until we realize that the writer hates this character. He's trivializing and insulting this role at every opportunity. And I'll never understand this. How can a writer hate his own character? It's his baby. How can he hate what he gave life? Embrace all your creations, especially the bad people. They deserve love like everyone else. Robert McKee Sayings: We often see films with a cast of excellent characters...except one, who's dreadful. We wonder
No civilization, including Plato's, has ever been destroyed because its citizens learned too much. Robert McKee Sayings: No civilization, including Plato's, has ever been destroyed because its citizens learned too much.
An image system is a strategy of motifs, a category of imagery embedded in the film that repeats in sight and sound from beginning to end with persistence and great variation, but with equally great subtlety, as a subliminal communication to increase the depth and complexity of aesthetic emotion. Robert McKee Sayings: An image system is a strategy of motifs, a category of imagery embedded in the
All fine films, novels, and plays, through all shades of the comic and the tragic, entertain when they give the audience a fresh model of life empowered with an affective meaning. Robert McKee Sayings: All fine films, novels, and plays, through all shades of the comic and the tragic,
I cannot be a character in a bad movie. I can't be. Robert McKee Sayings: I cannot be a character in a bad movie. I can't be.
In life, idea and emotion come separately. Mind and passions revolve in different spheres of our humanity, rarely coordinated, usually at odds. In fact, in life, moments that blaze with a fusion of idea and emotion are so rare, when they happen you think you're having a religious experience. But whereas life separates meaning from emotion, art unites them. Story is an instrument by which you create such epiphanies at will, the phenomenon known as aesthetic emotion. Robert McKee Sayings: In life, idea and emotion come separately. Mind and passions revolve in different spheres of
When two friends meet on the street and talk about the weather, don't we know that theirs isn't a conversation about the weather? What is being said? "I'm your friend. Let's take a minute out of our busy day and stand here in each other's presence and reaffirm that we are indeed friends." They might talk about sports, weather, shopping...anything. But the text is not the subtext. What is said and done is not what is thought and felt. The scene is not about what it seems to be about. Screen dialogue, therefore, must have the swing of everyday talk but content well above normal. Robert McKee Sayings: When two friends meet on the street and talk about the weather, don't we know
Pity the poor screenwriter, for he cannot be a poet. He cannot use metaphor and simile, assonance and alliteration, rhythm and rhyme, synecdoche and metonymy, hyperbole and meiosis, the grand tropes. Instead, his work must contain all the substance of literature but not be literary. A literary work is finished and complete within itself. A screenplay waits for the camera. If not literature, what then is the screenwriter's ambition? To describe in such a way that as a reader turns pages, a film flows through the imagination. Robert McKee Sayings: Pity the poor screenwriter, for he cannot be a poet. He cannot use metaphor and
The only way to know the truth is to witness him make choices under pressure to take one action or another in the pursuit of his desire. Robert McKee Sayings: The only way to know the truth is to witness him make choices under pressure
Whereas life separates meaning from emotion, art unites them. Story is an instrument by which you create such epiphanies at will, the phenomenon known as aesthetic emotion ... Life on its own, without art to shape it, leaves you in confusion and chaos, but aesthetic emotion harmonizes what you know with what you feel to give you a heightened awareness and a sureness of your place in reality. Robert McKee Sayings: Whereas life separates meaning from emotion, art unites them. Story is an instrument by which
Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Robert McKee Sayings: Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.
The Business story is designed to trigger the listener to take an effective action. If it doesn't, the story fails. Robert McKee Sayings: The Business story is designed to trigger the listener to take an effective action. If
Once a transition of value creates an emotion, feeling comes into play. Although they're often mistaken for each other, feeling is not emotion. Emotion is a short-term experience that peaks and burns rapidly. Feeling is a long-term, pervasive, sentient background that colors whole days, weeks, even years of our lives. Indeed, a specific feeling often dominates a personality. Each of the core emotions in life - pleasure and pain - has many variations. So which particular negative or positive emotion will we experience? The answer is found in the feeling that surrounds it. For, like adding pigment to a pencil sketch or an orchestra to a melody, feeling makes emotion specific. Robert McKee Sayings: Once a transition of value creates an emotion, feeling comes into play. Although they're often
You may think you know, but you don't know you know until you can write it down. Research is not daydreaming. Explore your past, relive it, then write it down. In your head it's only memory, but written down it becomes working knowledge. Now with the bile of fear in your belly, write an honest, one-of-a-kind scene. Robert McKee Sayings: You may think you know, but you don't know you know until you can write
Of all the reasons for wanting to write, the only one that nurtures us through time is love of the work itself. Robert McKee Sayings: Of all the reasons for wanting to write, the only one that nurtures us through
In life two negatives don't make a positive. Double negatives turn positive only in math and formal logic. In life things just get worse and worse and worse. Robert McKee Sayings: In life two negatives don't make a positive. Double negatives turn positive only in math
Pace begins in the screenplay. Cliche or not, we must control rhythm and tempo. It needn't be a symmetrical swelling of activity and shaving of scene lengths, but progressions must be shaped. For if we don't, the film editor will. And if to trim our sloppy work he cuts some of our favorite moments, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We're screenwriters, not refugees from the novel. Cinema is a unique art form. The screenwriter must master the aesthetics of motion pictures and create a screenplay that prepares the way for the artists who follow. Robert McKee Sayings: Pace begins in the screenplay. Cliche or not, we must control rhythm and tempo. It
Secure writers don't sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until the script is as director-ready, as actor-ready as possible. Unfinished work invites tampering, while polished, mature work seals its integrity. Robert McKee Sayings: Secure writers don't sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until the script is as director-ready,
When we want mood experiences, we go to concerts or museums. When we want meaningful emotional experience, we go to the storyteller. Robert McKee Sayings: When we want mood experiences, we go to concerts or museums. When we want meaningful
Difference for the sake of difference is as empty an achievement as slavishly following the commercial imperative. Write only what you believe. Robert McKee Sayings: Difference for the sake of difference is as empty an achievement as slavishly following the
Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world. Robert McKee Sayings: Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite
Fact, no matter how minutely observed, is truth with a small "t." Big "T" Truth is located behind, beyond, inside, below the surface of things, holding reality together or tearing it apart, and cannot be directly observed. Robert McKee Sayings: Fact, no matter how minutely observed, is truth with a small "t." Big "T" Truth
Anxious, inexperienced writers obey rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break rules. Artists master the form. Robert McKee Sayings: Anxious, inexperienced writers obey rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break rules. Artists master the form.
All writing is discipline, but screenwriting is a drill sergeant. Robert McKee Sayings: All writing is discipline, but screenwriting is a drill sergeant.
Of the total creative effort represented in a finished work, 75 percent or more of a writer's labor goes into designing the story designing story tests the maturity and insight of the writer, his knowledge of society, nature, and the human heart. Story demands both vivid imagination and powerful analytic thought. Robert McKee Sayings: Of the total creative effort represented in a finished work, 75 percent or more of
Classical design is a mirror of the human mind. It's how we see the world. Robert McKee Sayings: Classical design is a mirror of the human mind. It's how we see the world.
Don't be didactic - don't write about poverty. Write about poor people. When you dramatize their lives and let life and characters be your inspiration, you will express the 'idea' dynamically and without preaching. Robert McKee Sayings: Don't be didactic - don't write about poverty. Write about poor people. When you dramatize
of all genres Fantasy is the most rigid and structurally conventional. Robert McKee Sayings: of all genres Fantasy is the most rigid and structurally conventional.
Influence is just persuasion in slow motion. Robert McKee Sayings: Influence is just persuasion in slow motion.
Stories are how we remember; we tend to forget lists and bullet points. Robert McKee Sayings: Stories are how we remember; we tend to forget lists and bullet points.
Night after night, through years of performing and directing, I've stood in awe of the audience, of its capacity for response. As if by magic, masks fall away, faces become vulnerable, receptive. Filmgoers do not defend their emotions, rather they open to the storyteller in ways even their lovers never know, welcoming laughter, tears, terror, rage, compassion, passion, love, hate
the ritual often exhausts them.
Robert McKee Sayings: Night after night, through years of performing and directing, I've stood in awe of the
In comedy laughter settles all arguments. Robert McKee Sayings: In comedy laughter settles all arguments.
The dirty secret of art is you don't have to show people your bad writing. That's what we have the delete key for. Robert McKee Sayings: The dirty secret of art is you don't have to show people your bad writing.
To retreat behind the notion that the audience simply wants to dump its troubles at the door and escape reality is a cowardly abandonment of the artist's responsibility. Story isn't a flight from reality but a vehicle that carries us on our search for reality, our best effort to make sense out of the anarchy of existence. Robert McKee Sayings: To retreat behind the notion that the audience simply wants to dump its troubles at
Scholarly acumen sharpens taste and judgment, but we must never mistake criticism for art. Intellectual analysis, however heady, will not nourish the soul. Robert McKee Sayings: Scholarly acumen sharpens taste and judgment, but we must never mistake criticism for art. Intellectual
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? Robert McKee Sayings: Beyond imagination and insight, the most important component of talent is perseverance - the will
Stories build cultures by answering the big questions. Robert McKee Sayings: Stories build cultures by answering the big questions.
Quality storytelling inspires quality dialogue. Robert McKee Sayings: Quality storytelling inspires quality dialogue.
The students realize that it's their life I'm talking about: it's out of balance, they're struggling to put it into balance. How are they going to do it? Robert McKee Sayings: The students realize that it's their life I'm talking about: it's out of balance, they're
Ninety percent of what we create is not our best work. Robert McKee Sayings: Ninety percent of what we create is not our best work.
The material of literary talent is words; the material of story talent is life itself. Robert McKee Sayings: The material of literary talent is words; the material of story talent is life itself.
Every host in Hollywood has made that mistake: "Let's invite some comedy writers to the party! That'll brighten things up." Sure ... till the paramedics arrive. Robert McKee Sayings: Every host in Hollywood has made that mistake: "Let's invite some comedy writers to the
How does anyone know from moment to moment what to say or do next until he senses the reaction to what he just did? He doesn't know. Life is always action/reaction. No monologues. No prepared speeches. An improvisation no matter how we mentally rehearse our big moment. Robert McKee Sayings: How does anyone know from moment to moment what to say or do next until
If the story you're telling, is the story you're telling, you're in deep shit. Robert McKee Sayings: If the story you're telling, is the story you're telling, you're in deep shit.
Boy-meets-girl has always been an irreducible convention that occurs early in the telling, to be followed by the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of love. Robert McKee Sayings: Boy-meets-girl has always been an irreducible convention that occurs early in the telling, to be
Mastery of craft frees the subconscious. Robert McKee Sayings: Mastery of craft frees the subconscious.
Leaders use story to author the future. Robert McKee Sayings: Leaders use story to author the future.
When you think about it, going to the movies is bizarre. Hundreds of strangers sit in a blackened room, elbow to elbow, for two or more hours. They don't go to the toilet or get a smoke. Instead, they stare wide-eye at a screen, investing more uninterrupted concentration than they give to work, paying money to suffer emotions they'd do anything to avoid in life. Robert McKee Sayings: When you think about it, going to the movies is bizarre. Hundreds of strangers sit
Aristotle said time is a measure of change, and this movie is about changing in time, through time, while remaining the same person. That's a philosophical paradox and a moral dilemma. But 'Casablanca' says it's possible. You can have both. That's what it means. And that's my wish for you: that you would have both. Robert McKee Sayings: Aristotle said time is a measure of change, and this movie is about changing in
Oh, by the way, I tend to use a lot of profanities. I do that for a reason: I like it. Robert McKee Sayings: Oh, by the way, I tend to use a lot of profanities. I do that
To connect to people at the deepest level, you need stories. Robert McKee Sayings: To connect to people at the deepest level, you need stories.
It seems to me that the civilized human being is a skeptic someone who believes nothing at face value. Robert McKee Sayings: It seems to me that the civilized human being is a skeptic someone who believes
Many producers state without blinking that the audience wants a happy ending. They say this because up-ending films tend to make more money than down-ending films. The reason for this is that a small percentage of the audience won't go to any film that might give it an unpleasant experience. Generally their excuse is that they have enough tragedy in their lives. But if we were to look closely, we'd discover that they not only avoid negative emotions in movies, they avoid them in life. Such people think that happiness means never suffering, so they never feel anything deeply. The depth of our joy is in direct proportion to what we've suffered. Holocaust survivors, for example, don't avoid dark films. They go because such stories resonate with their past and are deeply cathartic. Robert McKee Sayings: Many producers state without blinking that the audience wants a happy ending. They say this
Story isn't a flight from reality but a vehicle that carries us on our search for reality, Robert McKee Sayings: Story isn't a flight from reality but a vehicle that carries us on our search
Thought can be controlled and manipulated, but emotion is willful and unpredictable. Robert McKee Sayings: Thought can be controlled and manipulated, but emotion is willful and unpredictable.
Story is metaphor for life and life is lived in time. Robert McKee Sayings: Story is metaphor for life and life is lived in time.
Curiosity is the intellectual need to answer questions and close open patterns. Story plays to this universal desire by doing the opposite, posing questions and opening situations. Robert McKee Sayings: Curiosity is the intellectual need to answer questions and close open patterns. Story plays to
Life is chaotic and meaningless, and you have to find your meaning. You must find the answer, you can't just live. That's the point of story: helping you find your meaning in life. Robert McKee Sayings: Life is chaotic and meaningless, and you have to find your meaning. You must find
When talented people write badly, it's generally for one of two reasons: Either they're blinded by an idea they feel compelled to prove of they're driven by an emotion they must express. When talented people write well, it is generally for this reason: They're moved by a desire to touch the audience. Robert McKee Sayings: When talented people write badly, it's generally for one of two reasons: Either they're blinded
Story is about eternal, universal forms, not formulas. Robert McKee Sayings: Story is about eternal, universal forms, not formulas.
Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact. Robert McKee Sayings: Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful
Most of life's actions are within our reach, but decisions take willpower. Robert McKee Sayings: Most of life's actions are within our reach, but decisions take willpower.
Talent without craft is like fuel without an engine, it burns wildly but accomplishes nothing. Robert McKee Sayings: Talent without craft is like fuel without an engine, it burns wildly but accomplishes nothing.
Good story' means something worth telling that the world wants to hear. Finding this is your lonely task ... But the love of a good story, of terrific characters and a world driven by your passion, courage, and creative gifts is still not enough. Your goal must be a good story well told. Robert McKee Sayings: Good story' means something worth telling that the world wants to hear. Finding this is
If you can't play all the instruments in the orchestra of story, no matter what music may be in your imagination, you're condemned to hum the same old tune. Robert McKee Sayings: If you can't play all the instruments in the orchestra of story, no matter what
The principle of Creative Limitations calls for freedom within a circle of obstacles and restricted boundaries. Talent is like a muscle: without something to push against, it atrophies. So we deliberately put obstacles in our path - barriers that will inspire us. We disciple ourselves as to what to do, while we're boundless as to how to do it. Robert McKee Sayings: The principle of Creative Limitations calls for freedom within a circle of obstacles and restricted
Angry contradiction of the patriarch is not creativity; it's delinquency calling for attention. Difference for the sake of difference is as empty an achievement as slavishly following the commercial imperative. Robert McKee Sayings: Angry contradiction of the patriarch is not creativity; it's delinquency calling for attention. Difference for
Dialogue concentrates meaning; conversation dilutes it. Robert McKee Sayings: Dialogue concentrates meaning; conversation dilutes it.
Stories are the currency of human relationships. Robert McKee Sayings: Stories are the currency of human relationships.
Deus ex machina not only erases all meaning and emotion, it's an insult to the audience. Each of us knows we must choose and act, for better or worse, to determine the meaning of our lives ... Deus ex machina is an insult because it is a lie. Robert McKee Sayings: Deus ex machina not only erases all meaning and emotion, it's an insult to the
No matter our talent, we all know in the midnight of our souls that 90 percent of what we do is less than our best. Robert McKee Sayings: No matter our talent, we all know in the midnight of our souls that 90
For those protagonists we tend to admire the most, the Inciting Incident arouses not only a conscious desire, but an unconscious one as well. These complex characters suffer intense inner battles because these two desire are in direct conflict with each other. No matter what the character consciously thinks he wants, the audience senses or realizes that deep inside he unconsciously wants the very opposite. Robert McKee Sayings: For those protagonists we tend to admire the most, the Inciting Incident arouses not only