Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen

Robert McKee. Hachette/Twelve, $35 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4555-9191-6
This new work from bestselling screenwriting guru McKee (Story) falls short of expectations, considering his lofty reputation among both A-list and aspiring Hollywood scribes. McKee is in his element writing about conventional and even some unconventional film and television dialogue; his ability to find just the right scene to illustrate what he’s trying to teach is remarkable. That said, his conception of the proper uses of narrative is limited. His statement that “stories are metaphors for life, not theses on psychology, environmental crises, social injustice, or any cause extraneous to the characters’ lives” is applicable to the current crop of blockbuster and Oscar-winning films, but unhelpful to writers interested in telling other kinds of stories. Time and again, McKee hands out hard and fast rules, rather than measured, adaptable advice. The limitations of his method are particularly evident when he discusses classic literature. This is not to say that his brand of close reading has no value, but rather that shoehorning “beats” and other Hollywood terminology onto, say, The Great Gatsby is reductive and unlikely to teach much about dialogue or storytelling in general. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/04/2016
Release date: 07/12/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-6550-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-3842-2
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