Book Reviews

Story by Robert McKee -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

3. Story - Robert McKee

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Rating: 8/10

Date of reading: 6th – 18th of January, 2018

Description: Storytelling principles. How to use them not only when writing a screenplay, but during everyday occurrences from talking to people to writing a blog post to mesmerizing a girl to give you her phone number. It works

 

My notes:

 

PART 1
The Writer and the Art of Story

 

“Stories are equipment for living. — KENNETH BURKE” ( :7)

“A rule says, “You must do it this way.” A principle says, “This works … and has through all remembered time.”” ( :8)

“For example, Spanish custom once dictated that daughters must be married off in order from oldest to youngest. Inside Spanish culture, a film about the nineteenthcentury family of a strict patriarch, a powerless mother, an unmarriageable oldest daughter, and a long-suffering youngest daughter may move those who remember this practice, but outside Spanish culture audiences are unlikely to empathize.” ( :8)

“Second, once inside this alien world, we find ourselves. Deep within these characters and their conflicts we discover our own humanity. We go to the movies to enter a new, fascinating world, to inhabit vicariously another human being who at first seems so unlike us and” ( :9)

“Second, once inside this alien world, we find ourselves. Deep within these characters and their conflicts we discover our own humanity. We go to the movies to enter a new, fascinating world, to inhabit vicariously another human being who at first seems so unlike us and yet at heart is like us, to live in a fictional reality that illuminates our daily reality” ( :9)

“ruthless in their desire to express the absolute maximum in the fewest possible words. a friend, then apologized in the postscript that he didn’t have time to write a short one.” ( :9)

“Like Pascal, screenwriters learn that economy is key, that brevity takes time, that excellence means perseverance.” ( :9)

“The honest, big-city answer to all these fears is that you’ll get an agent, sell your work, and see it realized faithfully on screen when you write with surpassing quality … and not until. If you knock out a knockoff of last summer’s hit, you’ll join the ranks of lesser talents who each year flood Hollywood with thousands of cliché-ridden stories. Rather than agonizing over the odds, put your energies into achieving excellence. If you show a brilliant, original screenplay to agents, they’ll fight for the right to represent you. The agent you hire will incite a bidding war among story-starved producers, and the winner will pay you an embarrassing amount of money.” ( :10)

“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 or 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.” ( :11)

“ty for response. As if by magic, masks fall away, faces become vulnerable, receptive. in ways even their lovers never know, welcoming laughter, tears, terror, rage, compassion, passion, love, hate—the ritual often exhausts them.” ( :11)

“Films by masters such as Horton Foote, Robert Altman, John Cassavetes, Preston Sturges, François Truffaut, and Ingmar Bergman are so idiosyncratic that a three-page synopsis identifies the artist as surely as his DNA.” ( :12)

“Day after day we seek an answer to the ageless question Aristotle posed in Ethics:r of racing hours as we struggle to fit our means to our dreams, fuse idea with passion, turn desire into reality.” ( :13)

“Traditionally humankind has sought the answer to Aristotle’s question from the four wisdoms—philosophy, science, religion, art—taking insight from each to bolt together a livable meaning. But today who reads Hegel or Kant without an exam to pass? Science, once the great explicator, garbles life with complexity and perplexity. Who can listen without cynicism to economists, sociologists, politicians? Religion, for many, has become an empty ritual that masks hypocrisy. As our faith in traditional ideologies diminishes, we turn to the source we still believe in: the art of story.” ( :13)

“If your dream were to compose music, would you say to yourself: “I’ve heard a lot of symphonies … I can also play the piano … I think I’ll knock one out this weekend”? No. But that’s exactly how many screenwriters begin: “I’ve seen a lot of flicks, some good and some bad … I got A’s in English … vacation time’s coming …”” ( :16)

“Over the last twenty-five years, however, the method of teaching creative writing in American universities has shifted from the intrinsic to the extrinsic. Trends in literary theory have drawn professors away from the deep sources of story toward language, codes, text—story seen from the outside. As a result, with some notable exceptions, the current generation of writers has been undereducated in the prime principles of story.” ( :17)

“runs very deep. Values, the positive/negative charges of life, are at the soul of our art. or, what’s worth dying for, what’s foolish to pursue, the meaning of justice, truth—the essential values.” ( :17)

“So the writer embraces the principle, Tell Story … then freezes. For what is story? The idea of story is like the idea of music. We’ve heard tunes all our lives. We can dance and sing along. We think we understand music until we try to compose it and what comes out of the piano scares the cat.” ( :19)

“nate sense that treasures good writing,t hates bad writing, and knows the difference. reassured, that never doubts that you are indeed a writer. You must love to write and bear the loneliness.” ( :20)

“A storyteller is a life poet, an artist who transforms day-to-day living, inner life and outer life, dream and actuality into a poem whose rhyme scheme is events rather than words—a two-hour metaphor that says: Life is like this!” ( :22)

“ns. But story is not life” ( :22)

“not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens.” ( :23)

“writers have brought this woman to the stage, page, and screen, and each Joan is suffering Joan, Hollywood’s romantic warrior. In Shakespeare’s hands she became the lunatic Joan, a distinctly British point of view. Each Joan is divinely inspired, raises an army, defeats the English, burns at the stake. Joan’s facts are always the same, but whole genres shift while the “truth” of her life waits for the writer to find its meaning.” ( :23)

“often have the imaginative power to lift audiences beyond what is to what could be. also make hearts jump.” ( :23)

“e. It seeks out the inscape of our days and reshapes it into a telling that enriches life. lliantly told stories year after year and never gives a moment’s thought to how he does what he does or could do it better? Instinctive genius may produce a work of quality once, but perfection and prolificness do not flow from the spontaneous and untutored.” ( :24)

“scription to create them, no dialogue to act them. They are image, pure ds; the material of story talent is life itself.” ( :24)

“Now let’s say the storytelling passes to the guy next to her who tells the others the heartrending tale of how his mother died over the weekend … and bores the hell out of everyone.” ( :24)

“Given the choice between trivial material brilliantly told versus profound material badly told, an audience will always choose the trivial told brilliantly. Master storytellers know how to squeeze life out of the least of things, while poor storytellers reduce the profound to the banal.” ( :24)

“Story talent is primary, literary talent secondary but essential.” ( :25)

“everything you know about the craft of story-telling can you make your talent forge story. accomplishes nothing.” ( :25)

 

Part 2 The Elements of Story

 

“But this complex expanse of life story must become the story told. To design a feature film, you must reduce the seething mass and rush of life story to just two little hours, more or less, that somehow express everything you left out.” ( :27)

“”Great! About a guy raised on a sharecropper’s farm. As a kid he toiled with his family under the hot sun. He went to school but didn’t do too well because he had to get up at dawn, all that weeding and hoeing. But somebody gave him a guitar and he learned to play, write his own songs … finally, fed up with this backbreaking life, he ran away, living hand to mouth playing in honky-tonk bars. Then he met a beautiful gal with a great voice. They fell in love, teamed up, and, bang, their careers skyrocketed. But the trouble was the spotlight was always on her. He wrote their songs, arranged, backed her up, but people only came to see her. Living in her shadow, he turned to drink. Finally she throws him out, and there he is back on the road again, until he hits rock bottom. He wakes up in a cheap motel in a dusty Midwest town, middle of nowhere, penniless, friendless, a hopeless drunk, not a dime for the phone and no one to call if he had one.” In other words, TENDER MERCIES told from birth. But nothing of the above is in the” ( :27)

“film. TENDER MERCIES begins the morning Robert Duvall’s Mac Sledge wakes up at rock bottom.” ( :28)

“A STORY EVENT creates meaningful change in the life situation of a character that is” ( :28)

“r—although there are those who have tried. Story Events are meaningful, notu trivial. someone drenched in a downpour, this has somewhat more meaning than a damp street.” ( :28)

“expressed and experienced in terms of a VALUE.” ( :29)

“freedom/slavery, truth/lie, courage/cowardice, loya. For example: alive/dead (positive/negative) is a story value, as are love/hate,,” ( :29)

“experience that can reverse their charge at any moment are Story Valu qualities ofe” ( :29)

“A SCENE is an action through conflict in more or less continuous time and space that turns the value-charged condition of a character’s life on at least one value with a degree of perceptible significance. Ideally, every scene is a STORY EVENT.” ( :30)

“Generally the test of whether a series of activities constitutes a true scene is this: Could it have been written “in one,” in a unity of time and place? In this case the answer is yes.” ( :31)

“In the penthouse they towel off her hair and find mismatched clothes for her to wear, and because she looks like this, the spotlight’s on her all night. Because she knows she has lost anyway, she relaxes into her natural self and from deep within comes a chutzpah she never knew she had; she not only tells them about her battle in the park but makes jokes about it. Mouths go slack with awe or wide with laughter. At end of the evening, all the executives know exactly who they want for the job: Anyone who can go through that terror in the park and display this kind of cool is clearly the person for them. The evening ends on her personal and social triumphs as she is given the job (doubly positive).” ( :33)

“rimitive, reaching back through millennia of oralm storytelling into the shadows of time. lets 4,000 years ago, converting story to the written word for the first time the principles of Classical Design were already fully and beautifully in place. CLASSICAL DESIGN means a story built around an active protagonist who struggles against primarily external forces of antagonism to pursue his or her desire, through continuous time, within a consistent and causally connected fictional reality, to a closed ending of absolute, irreversible change. This collection of timeless principles I call the Archplot: Arch (pronounced “ark” as in archangel) in the dictionary sense of “eminent above others of the same kind.”” ( :36)

“A Story Climax of absolute, irreversible change that answers all questions raised by the telling and satisfies all audience emotion is a CLOSED ENDING. A Story Climax that leaves a question or two unanswered and some emotion unfulfilled is an OPEN ENDING.” ( :39)

“An ACTIVE PROTAGONIST, in the pursuit of desire, takes action in direct conflict with the people and the world around him. A PASSIVE PROTAGONIST is outwardly inactive while pursuing desire inwardly, in conflict with aspects of his or her own nature.” ( :40)

“A story with or without flashbacks and arranged into a temporal order of events that the audience can follow is told in LINEAR TIME. A story that either skips helter-skelter through time or so blurs temporal continuity that the audience cannot sort out what happens before and after what is told in NONLINEAR TIME.” ( :41)

“CAUSALITY drives a story in which motivated actions cause effects that in turn become the causes of yet other effects, thereby interlinking the various levels of conflict in a chain reaction of episodes to the Story Climax, expressing the interconnectedness of reality.” ( :41)

“COINCIDENCE drives a fictional world in which unmotivated actions trigger events that do not cause further effects, and therefore fragment the story into divergent episodes and an open ending, expressing the disconnectedness of existence.” ( :42)

“CONSISTENT REALITIES are fictional settings that establish modes of interaction between characters and their world that are kept consistently throughout the telling to create meaning.” ( :42)

“INCONSISTENT REALITIES are settings that mix modes of interaction so that the story’s episodes jump inconsistently from one “reality” to another to create a sense of absurdity.” ( :42)

“A film like BARTON FINK sits at the center, drawing qualities from each of the three extremes. It begins as the story of a young New York playwright (single protagonist) who’s trying to make his mark in Hollywood (active conflict with external forces) —Archplot. But Fink (John Turturro) becomes more and more reclusive and suffers a severe writer’s block (inner conflict)—Miniplot. When that progresses into hallucination, we grow less and less sure of what’s real, what’s fantasy (inconsistent realities), until nothing can be trusted (fractured temporal and causal order)—Antiplot. The ending is rather open, with Fink staring out to sea, but it’s fairly certain he’ll never write in that town again.” ( :45)

“f classical design used in the West,r enriching their tellings with a unique wit Eastern; it is human.” ( :49)

“at’s shown in a couple of film festivals, shoved into a refrigerated vault, and forgotten? t write a film that has at least a chance of recouping its huge risk. In other words, a film that leans toward the Archplot.” ( :49)

“These cycles between formality/freedom, symmetry/asymmetry are as old as Attic theatre. The history of art is a history of revivals: Establishment icons are shattered by an avant-garde that in time becomes the new establishment to be attacked by a new avant-garde that uses its grandfather’s forms of weapons. Rock ‘n’ roll, which was named after black slang for sex, began as an avant-garde movement against the whitebread sounds of the postwar era. Now it’s the definition of musical aristocracy and even used as church music.” ( :50)

“ltman perfected his story talents in the astered the Archplot.” ( :50)

“taint of commercialism, you produce the literary, equivalent of a temper tantrum. wood’s “rules” because it makes you feel free. But 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. Write only what you believe.” ( :51)

“If your drama is set among the gated estates of West L.A., we won’t see homeowners” ( :53)

“protesting social injustice by rioting in their tree-lined streets, although they might throw a thousand-dollar-a-plate fund-raiser. If your setting is the housing projects of East L.A.’s ghetto, these citizens won’t dine at thousand-dollar-a-plate galas, but they might hit the streets to demand change. A STORY must obey its own internal laws of probability. The event choices of the writer, therefore, are limited to the possibilities and probabilities within the world he creates.” ( :54)

“All fine stories take place within a limited, knowable world. No matter how grand a fictional world may seem, with a close look you’ll discover that it’s remarkably small.” ( :55)

“The irony of setting versus story is this: The larger the world, the more diluted the knowledge of the writer, therefore the fewer his creative choices and the more clichéd the story. The smaller the world, the more complete the knowledge of the writer, therefore the greater his creative choices. Result: a fully original story and victory in the war on cliché.” ( :55)

“ot write. Talent must be stimulated by facts and ideas. Do research.r Feed your talent. its cousin, depression.” ( :56)

“ur personal experience is universal, is critical. It means you’ll have an audience. ere will understand because the patterns of family are ubiquitous.” ( :57)

“CREATIVITY means creative choices of inclusion and exclusion.” ( :58)

“d is every film you’ve ever seen,h every novel you’ve ever read, offering clichés to pluck. it, then reread it with disgust on Tuesday as we realize we’ve seen this cliche in a dozen other works.” ( :58)

“Suppose, however, as you question the meeting-cute scenes on your list, deep in your gut you realize that, while all have their virtues, your first impression was right. Cliché or not, these lovers would meet in a singles bar; nothing could be more expressive of their natures and milieu. Now what do you do? Follow your instincts and start a new list: a dozen different ways to meet in a singles bar. Research this world, hang out, observe the crowd, get involved, until you know the singles bar scene like no writer before you.” ( :59)

“een onscreen before? When your script becomes a film and the camera dollies toward a her singles bar scene.” But then you take them through the door, show them what really goes on in those meat racks. If you’ve done your task well, jaws will drop and heads will nod: “That’s right! It’s not ‘What’s your astrological sign? Read any good books lately?’ That’s the embarrassment, danger. That’s the truth.”” ( :59)

“No one has to see your failures unless you add vanity to folly and exhibit them. Genius consists not only of the power to create expressive beats and scenes, but of the taste,” ( :59)

“judgment, and will to weed out and destroy banalities, conceits, false notes, and lies.” ( :60)

“Through tens of thousands of years of tales told at fireside, four millennia of the written word, twenty-five hundred years of theatre, a century of film, and eight decades of broadcasting, countless generations of storytellers have spun story into an astonishing diversity of patterns.” ( :61)

“se) or a Complex design (climaxing around ae major reversal in the protagonist’s life). ate, Complex Tragic, Complex Fortunate.” ( :61)

“GENRE CONVENTIONS are specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their subgenres.” ( :66)

“ved tensions it invites interpretation and analysis in the postfilm ritual of cafed criticism. ention: unconventionality. Minimalist and/or Antistructure unconventionality is the Art Film’s distinguishing convention.” ( :67)

“m genre usually results in instant, though often temporary,y recognition as an artist. rchplot and genre convention, always aimed for a mass audience, and habitually found it. Yet today he stands atop the pantheon of filmmakers, worshipped worldwide as one of the century’s major artists, a film poet whose works resonate with sublime images of sexuality, religiosity, and subtleties of point of view. Hitchcock knew that there is no necessary contradiction between art and popular success, nor a necessary connection between art and Art Film.” ( :67)

“Genre study is best done in this fashion: First, list all those works you feel are like yours, both successes and failures. (The study of failures is illuminating … and humbling.) Next, rent the films on video and purchase the screenplays if possible. Then study the films stop and go, turning pages with the screen, breaking each film down into elements of setting, role, event, and value. Lastly, stack, so to speak, these analyses one atop the other and look down through them all asking: What do the stories in my genre always do? What are its conventions of time, place, character, and action? Until you discover answers, the audience will always be ahead of you.” ( :68)

“To anticipate the anticipations of the audience you must master your genre and its conventions.” ( :68)

“The principle of Creative Limitation calls for freedom within a circle of o.” ( :69)

“he rhyme scheme of a storyteller’s “poem.” They do not inhibit creativity, they inspire it. a Love Story is not a cliché but a necessary element of form—a convention. The cliché is that they meet as Love Story lovers have always met: Two dynamic individualists are forced to share an adventure and seem to hate each other on sight; or two shy souls, each carrying the torch for someone who won’t give them the time of day, find themselves shunted to the edge of a party with no one else to talk to, and so on.” ( :69)

“cious and life so short, if two married people want to have an affair, let them. R 1950s values brutally bored the 1980s audience. The audience wants to know how it feels to be alive on the knife edge of the now. What does it mean to be a human being today?” ( :73)

“his passion, a subject he pursues with beautiful variation through a lifetime of work. e death. After he witnessed the suicide of his father, it became the central theme, not only of his writing, but of his life. He chased death in war, in sport, on safari, until finally, putting a shotgun in his mouth, he found it. Charles Dickens, whose father was imprisoned for debt, wrote of the lonely child searching for the lost father over and over in David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, and Great Expectations. Molière turned a critical eye on the idiocy and depravity of seventeenth-century France and made a career writing plays whose titles read like a checklist of human vices: The Miser, The Misanthrope, The Hypochondriac. Each of these authors found his subject and it sustained him over the long journey of the writer.” ( :74)

“eas of society and humane nature? Whatever your source of inspiration, beware of this: he love of ideas sicken and perish. You’ll become so tired and bored with writing about yourself or your ideas, you may not finish the race.” ( :74)

“h of us is a one-of-a-kind combination of genetic givens and accumulate. 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.” ( :75)

“Choices made when nothing is at risk mean little. If a character Pressure is essential. re telling a lie would gain him nothing, the choice is trivial, the moment expresses nothing.” ( :75)

“Pressure is essential. Choices made when nothing is at risk mean little. If a character chooses to tell the truth in a situation where telling a lie would gain him nothing, the choice is trivial, the moment expresses nothing. But if the same character insists on telling the truth when a lie would save his life, then we sense that honesty is at the core” ( :75)

“of his nature.” ( :76)

“We may discover that deep within these utterly different characterizations is an identical humanity—both willing to give their lives in a heartbeat for strangers. Or it may turn out that the person we thought would act heroically is a coward. Or the one we thought would act cowardly is a hero. Or at rock bottom, we may discover that selfless heroism is not the limit of true character in either of them. For the unseen power of their acculturation may force each to a spontaneous choice that exposes unconscious prejudices of gender or ethnicity … even while they are performing acts of saintlike courage. Whichever way the scene’s written, choice under pressure will strip away the mask of characterization, we’ll peer into their inner natures and with a flash of insight grasp their true characters.” ( :76)

“n contrast or contradiction to characterization is fundamental to all fine storytelling. e not what they appear to be.” ( :77)

“e not what they appear to be. A hidden nature waits concealed behind a facade of traits. we ever come to know characters in depth is through their choices under pressure.” ( :77)

“”loving husband,” and by the If we’re introduced to a character whose demeanor is peared to be, a loving husband with no secrets, no unfulfilled dreams, no hidden passions, we’ll be very disappointed. When characterization and true character match, when inner life and outer appearance are, like a block of cement, of one substance, the role becomes a list of repetitious, predictable behaviors. It’s not as if such a character isn’t credible. Shallow, nondimensional people exist… but they are boring.” ( :77)

“The revelation of deep character in contrast or Taking the principle further: amental in major characters. Minor roles may or may not need hidden dimensions, but principals must be written in depth—they cannot be at heart what they seem to be at face.” ( :77)

“Taki ng the principle further yet: The finest writing not only reveals true character, but arcs or changes that inner nature, for better or worse, over the course of the telling.” ( :77)

“The function of CHARACTER is to bring to the story the qualities of characterization necessary to convincingly act out choices. Put simply, a character must be credible: young enough or old enough, strong or weak, worldly or naive, educated or ignorant, generous or selfish, witty or dull, in the right proportions. Each must bring to the story the combination of qualities that allows an audience to believe that the character could and would do what he does.” ( :79)

“For this reason the phrase “character-driven story” is redundant. All stories are “character-driven.” Event design and character design mirror each other. Character cannot be expressed in depth except through the design of story. The key is appropriateness.” ( :79)

“ture and character seems neatly symmetrical until we come to the problem of endin” ( :80)

“ture and character seems neatly symmetrical until we come to the problem of endings. nutes.” In other words, for a film to have a chance in the world, the last act and its climax must be the most satisfying experience of all. For no matter what the first ninety minutes have achieved, if the final movement fails, the film will die over its opening weekend.” ( :80)

“of music, dance, poetry, and song” ( :80)

“of music, dance, poetry, and song. And thel first commandment of all temporal art is: the coda of a symphony, the couplet of a sonnet, the last act and its Story Climax—these culminating moments must be the most gratifying, meaningful experiences of all.” ( :80)

“Find the page where the protagonist is introduced, on it locate the phrase of description that reads “Jake (75)”, then delete 7, insert 3. In other words, rework characterization. Deep character remains unchanged because whether Jake is thirty-five or seventy-five, he still has the will and tenacity to go to the limit in the Mojave. But you must make him credible.” ( :81)

“life: meaningful emotional experience. In life, experiences become meaningful with reflection in time. In art, they are meaningful now, at the instant they happen.” ( :83)

“s are in facte serendipitous. For what may inspire one writer will be ignored by another. ns or convictions nascent in the writer.” ( :84)

“STORYTELLING is the creative demonstration of truth. A story is the living proof of an idea, the conversion of idea to action. A story’s event structure is the means by which you first express, then prove your idea … without explanation.” ( :84)

“Master storytellers never explain. They do the hard, painfully creative thing—they dramatize. Audiences are rarely interested, and certainly never convinced, when forced to listen to the discussion of ideas.” ( :84)

“r that prolific genre, Crime. What idea is expressed by virtually?” ( :84)

“Hopefully without one character musing to another, “There! What’d I tell ya? Crime doesn’t pay. Nope, it looked like they’d get away with it, but the wheels of justice turned unrelentingly …” No, we see the idea acted out in front of us: A crime is committed; for a while the criminal goes free; eventually he’s apprehended and punished. In the act of punishment—imprisoning him for life or shooting him dead on the street—an emotionally charged idea runs through the audience.” ( :85)

“ns of perhaps sadness or compassion. But regardless of genre, the principle is universal: nally expressive Story Climax without the aid of explanatory dialogue.” ( :85)

“A CONTROLLING IDEA may be expressed in a single sentence describing how and why life undergoes change from one condition of existence at the beginning to another at the end.” ( :85)

“Value means the primary value in its positive or negative charge that comes into the world or life of your character as a result of the final action of the story. For example: An up-ending Crime Story (IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT) returns an unjust world (negative) to justice (positive), suggesting a phrase such as “Justice is restored …” In a down-ending Political Thriller (MISSING), the military dictatorship commands the story’s world at climax, prompting a negative phrase such as “Tyranny prevails …” A positiveending Education Plot (GROUNDHOG DAY) arcs the protagonist from a cynical, selfserving man to someone who’s genuinely selfless and loving, leading to “Happiness fills our lives …” A negative-ending Love Story (DANGEROUS LIAISONS) turns passion into self-loathing, evoking “Hatred destroys …”” ( :86)

“s a full Controlling Idea because each gives us only half a meaning—the endings value. cific value.” ( :86)

“Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, your full If, for example, you were writing for would be: “Justice triumphs because the protagonist is more violent than the criminals.”” ( :86)

“pt CIA. DANGEROUS LIAISONS— hatred destroys us when we fear the opposite sex. g, the how and why of change, the vision of life the audience members carry away into their lives.” ( :87)

“In other words, the story tells you its meaning; you do not dictate meaning to the story. You do not draw action from idea, rather idea from action. For no matter your inspiration, ultimately the story embeds its Controlling Idea within the final climax, and when this event speaks its meaning, you will experience one of the most powerful moments in the writing life—Self-Recognition: The Story Climax mirrors your inner self, and if your story is from the very best sources within you, more often than not you’ll be shocked by what you see reflected in it.” ( :87)

“ving human being until you find yourself writings tales of dark, cynical consequence. lock a few times until you find yourself writing warm, compassionate endings.” ( :87)

“PROGRESSIONS build by moving dynamically between the positive and negative charges of the values at stake in the story.” ( :88)

“This rhythm of Idea versus Counter-Idea is fundamental and essential to our art. It pulses at the heart of all fine stories, no matter how internalized the action. What’s more, this simple dynamic can become very complex, subtle, and ironic.” ( :88)

“ent with as much truth and energy as those that reinforce it. If your film ends on the lead the audience to feel justice will win out.” ( :89)

“ent with as much truth and energy as those that reinforce it. If your film ends on the lead the audience to feel justice will win out. If your film ends on the Idea, such as “Justice triumphs because…,” then enhance the sequences expressing “Crime pays and pays big.” In other words, do not slant your “argument.”” ( :89)

“If, in a morality tale, you were to write your antagonist as an ignorant fool who more or less destroys himself, are we persuaded that good will prevail? But if, like an ancient myth-maker, you were to create an antagonist of virtual omnipotence who reaches the brink of success, you would force yourself to create a protagonist who will rise to the occasion and become even more powerful, more brilliant. In this balanced telling your victory of good over evil now rings with validity.” ( :89)

“But the pacifist pleas of antiwar films (OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR, APOCALYPSE” ( :89)

“NOW, GALLIPOLI, HAMBURGER HILL) rarely sensitize us to war. We’re unconvinced because in the rush to prove he has the answer, the writer is blind to a truth we know too well—men love war.” ( :90)

“e as a writer without being somethingr of a philosopher and holding strong erse yourself in life.” ( :90)

“e as a writer without being somethingr of a philosopher and holding strong convictions. urself in life. For the proof of your vision is not how well you can assert your Controlling Idea, but its victory over the enormously powerful forces that you array against it.” ( :90)

“In Kubrick’s PATHS OF GLORY the fate of France hangs on winning the war against the Germans at any cost. So when the French army retreats from battle, an outraged general devises an innovative motivational strategy: He orders his artillery to bombard his own troops. In DR. STRANGELOVE the United States and Russia both realize that in nuclear war, not losing is more important than winning, so each concocts a scheme for not losing so effective it incinerates all life on Earth. In FULL METAL JACKET, the Marine Corps faces a tough task: how to persuade human beings to ignore the genetic prohibition against killing their own kind. The simple solution is to brainwash recruits into believing that the enemy is not human; killing a man then becomes easy, even if he’s your drill instructor. Kubrick knew that if he gave the humanity enough ammunition, it would shoot itself.” ( :90)

“The classics, down A great work is a living metaphor that says, “Life is like this.” lucidity, not answers but poetic candor; they make inescapably clear the problems all generations must solve to be human.” ( :90)

“”The courage and genius of humanity will prevail over the hostility of Nature.” Survival Films, a subgenre of Action/Adventure, are “up-ending” stories of life-and-death conflict with forces of the environment. At the brink of extinction, the protagonists, through dint of will and resourcefulness, battle the often cruel personality of Mother Nature and endure:” ( :91)

“”Down-ending” stories expressing our cynicism, our sense of loss and misfortune, a negatively charged vision of civilization’s decline, of humanity’s dark dimensions; life as we dread it to be but know it so often is.” ( :92)

“centuries ago. But we’re so divided, we never know from day to d” ( :92)

“w away what they once cherished. This patternm gives rise to an ending rich in irony: that has become a soul-corrupting fixation (negative), to gain an honest, sane, balanced life (positive).” ( :93)

“ding is a scene in which the protagonist takes ant action that gets him what he wants. act on his obsession or throws away what he once desired. He or she wins by “losing.” Like solving the Zen riddle of the sound of one hand clapping, the writer’s problem in each case was how to make a nonaction or negative action feel positive.” ( :93)

“TERMS OF ENDEARMENT tells of a very different obsession. Aurora (Shirley MacLaine) lives the Epicurean philosophy that happiness means never suffering, that the secret of life is to avoid all negative emotion.” ( :94)

“house. The onlylife she leads is over the telephone vicariously through her daughter. ze that the depth of joy you experience is in direct proportion to the pain you’re willing to bear. In the last act she throws away the emptiness of a pain-free life to embrace children,” ( :94)

“Second, how to say both clearly? Irony doesn’t mean ambiguity. Ambiguity is a blur; one thing cannot be distinguished from another. But there’s nothing ambiguous about irony; it’s a clear, double declaration of what’s gained and what’s lost, side by side. Nor does irony mean coincidence. A true irony is honestly motivated. Stories that end by random chance, doubly charged or not, are meaningless, not ironic.” ( :95)

“In 388 Plato urged the city fathers of Athens to exile all poets and storytellers. B.C. They are a threat to society, he argued. Writers deal with ideas, but not in the open, rational manner of philosophers. Instead, they conceal their ideas inside the seductive emotions of art. Yet felt ideas, as Plato pointed out, are ideas nonetheless.” ( :95)

“charged idea out to us, in effect compelling the idea into us, so that we must believe. meaning even if we find it morally repellent. Storytellers, Plato insisted, are dangerous people. He was right.” ( :95)

“e. I oppose all censorship. In pursuit of truth, we must willingly suffer the ugliests of lies. en a voice, even the irrationally radical or cruelly reactionary, humanity will sort through all possibilities and make the right choice. No civilization, including Plato’s, has ever been destroyed because its citizens learned too much truth.” ( :96)

“Authoritative personalities, like Plato, fear the threat that comes not from idea, but from emotion. Those in power never want us to feel. Thought can be controlled and manipulated, but emotion is willful and unpredictable. Artists threaten authority by exposing lies and inspiring passion for change. This is why when tyrants seize power, their firing squads aim at the heart of the writer.” ( :96)

 

Part 3 The Principles of Story Design

 

“When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost— and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl. —T. S. ELIOT” ( :97)

“rary education, flounder because of the disastrous misunderstanding of thiss principle. a medium, one of many, in fact, for storytelling. Something far more profound than mere words beats at the heart of a story.” ( :98)

“sits another equally profound phenomenon: thes audience’s reaction to this substance. f 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-eyed 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. From this perspective, a second question arises: What is the source of story energy? How does it compel such intense mental and sentient attention from the audience? How do stories work?” ( :98)

“It’s even possible, in rare cases, to switch protagonists halfway through a story. PSYCHO does this, making the shower murder both an emotional and a formal jolt. With the protagonist dead, the audience is momentarily confused; whom is this movie about? The answer is a Plural-Protagonist as the victim’s sister, boyfriend, and a private detective take over the story. But no matter whether the story’s protagonist is single, multi or plural, no matter how he is characterized, all protagonists have certain hallmark qualities, and the first is willpower.” ( :99)

“A PROTAGONIST is a willful character.” ( :99)

“The PROTAGONIST has a conscious desire.” ( :100)

“The PROTAGONIST may also have a self-contradictory unconscious desire.” ( :100)

“The PROTAGONIST has the capacities to pursue the Object of Desire convincingly.” ( :100)

“The PROTAGONIST must have at least a chance to attain his desire.” ( :100)

“camera back on life, the grand overview might lead us to conclude that, in the words oft people waste their precious time and die with the feeling they’ve fallen short of their dreams.” ( :101)

“A STORY must build to a final action beyond which the audience cannot imagine another.” ( :101)

“The PROTAGONIST must be empathetic; he may or may not be sympathetic.” ( :101)

“Sympathetic means likable.” ( :102)

“Empathetic means “like me.”” ( :102)

“The unconscious logic of the audience runs like this: “This character is like me. Therefore, I want him to have whatever it is he wants, because if I were he in those circumstances, I’d want the same thing for myself.” Hollywood has many synonymic expressions for this connection: “somebody to get behind,” “someone to root for.”” ( :102)

“feeling nothing.r Involvement has nothing to do with evok” ( :102)

“Empathy, therefore, is absolute, while sympathy is optional. We’ve all met likable people who don’t draw our compassion. A protagonist, accordingly, may or may not be pleasant.” ( :102)

“Macbeth, for example, viewed objectively, is monstrous. He butchers a kindly old King while the man is sleeping, a King who had never done Macbeth any harm—in fact, that very day he’d given Macbeth a royal promotion. Macbeth then murders two servants of the King to blame the deed on them. He kills his best friend. Finally he orders the assassination of the wife and infant children of his enemy. He’s a ruthless killer; yet, in Shakespeare’s hands he becomes a tragic, empathetic hero.” ( :103)

“by giving Macbeth a conscience. As he wanders in The Bard accomplished this feat I doing this? What kind of a man am I?” the audience listens and thinks, “What kind? Guilt-ridden… just like me. I feel bad when I’m thinking about doing bad things. I feel awful when I do them and afterward there’s no end to the guilt.” ( :103)

“of rat blood, he should take this simple solution: Wait for sunrise, and poof,s it’s over.” we fell into empathy with him, the dispassionate eye of the camera sees him for what he is, a whining fraud. Audiences always disassociate themselves from hypocrites.” ( :103)

“In life we often see people, even animals, acting with extreme behavior that seems unnecessary, if not stupid. But this is our objective view of their situation. Subjectively, from within the experience of the creature, this apparently intemperate action was minimal, conservative, and necessary. What’s thought “conservative,” after all, is” ( :103)

“always relative to point of view.” ( :104)

“In story, we concentrate on that moment, and only that moment, in which a character takes an action expecting a useful reaction from his world, but instead the effect of his action is to provoke forces of antagonism. The world of the character reacts differently than expected, more powerfully than expected, or both.” ( :104)

“gh or deft enough for af particular task. And we all know how emotions betray us. character is his own being: feelings and emotions, mind and body, all or any of which may or may not react from one moment to the next the way he expects. As often as not, we are our own worst enemies.” ( :105)

“The second circle inscribes personal relationships, unions of intimacy deeper than the social role. Social convention assigns the outer roles we play. At the moment, for example, we’re playing teacher/student. Someday, however, our” ( :105)

“d relationships that never deepen beyond social definitions of authority and rebellion. timacy of family, friends, and lovers—who then do not react the way we expect and become the second level of personal conflict.” ( :105)

“level of extra-personal conflict—all the sources of The third circle marks the t with social institutions and individuals— government/citizen, church/worshipper; corporation/client; conflict with individuals—” ( :105)

“cop/criminal/victim, boss/worker, customer/waiter, doctor/patient; and conflict with both man-made and natural environments—time, space, and every object in it.” ( :106)

“In a state of jeopardy, on the other hand, We’d all like to have our cake and eat it too. ve in order to gain something else that we want or to protect something we have—a dilemma we strive to avoid.” ( :107)

“in a compelling way, the story is misconceived ato its core. For example, if the answer is: is not worth telling. What the protagonist wants is of no real value, and a story of someone pursuing something of little or no value is the definition of boredom.” ( :107)

“would like to be acknowledged. It’s a noble ambition and a grand achievement to fulfill. your life to live that dream. You’re willing to risk time. You know that even the most talented writers—Oliver Stone, Lawrence Kasdan, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala—didn’t find success until they were in their thirties or forties, and just as it takes a decade or more to make a good doctor or teacher, it takes ten or more years of adult life to find something to say that tens of millions of people want to hear, and ten or more years and often as many screenplays written and unsold to master this demanding craft.” ( :108)

“You’re willing to risk people. Each morning you go to your desk and enter the imagined world of your characters. You dream and write until the sun’s setting and your head’s throbbing. So you turn off your word processor to be with the person you love. Except that, while you can turn off your machine, you can’t turn off your imagination. As you sit at dinner, your characters are still running through your head and you’re wishing there was a notepad next to your plate. Sooner or later, the person you love will say: “You know… you’re not really here.” Which is true. Half the time you’re somewhere else, and no one wants to live with somebody who isn’t really there. The writer places time, money, and people at risk because his ambition has lifedefining force. What’s true for the writer is true for every character he creates: The measure of the value of a character’s desire is in direct proportion to the risk he’s willing to take to achieve it; the greater the value, the greater the risk.” ( :108)

“g from the outside in, render a surface of character that’s genuine, even. The only reliable source of emotional truth is yourself.” ( :110)

“g from the outside in, render a surface of character that’s genuine, even. The only reliable source of emotional truth is yourself. If you stay outside your characters, you inevitably write emotional clichés. To create revealing human reactions, you must not only get inside your character, but get” ( :110)

“You ask: “If I were this character in these circumstances, what would I do?” Using Stanislavski’s “Magic if,” you act the role.” ( :110)

“Writers are by instinct dialectical thinkers. As Jean Cocteau said, “The spirit of creation is the spirit of contradiction—the breakthrough of appearances toward an unknown reality.” ( :128)

“Once you’ve imagined the scene, beat by beat, gap by gap, you write. What you write is a vivid description of what happens and the reactions it gets, what is seen, said, and done. You write so that when someone else reads your pages he will, beat by beat, gap by gap, live through the roller coaster of life that you lived through at your desk. The words on the page allow the reader to plunge into each gap, seeing what you dreamed, feeling what you felt, learning what you understood until, like you, the reader’s pulse pounds, emotions flow, and meaning is made.” ( :129)

“mouths drop open, bodies flinch and rock, laughter explodes, tears run down faces. ns for audience. With each turn, the character must pour” ( :129)

“more energy and effort into his next action. The audience, in empathy with the character, feels the same surges of energy building” ( :130)

“A story is a design in five parts: The Inciting Incident, the first major event of the telling, is the primary cause for all that follows, putting into motion the other four elements —Progressive Complications, Crisis, Climax, Resolution.” ( :131)

“Authenticity, however, does not mean actuality. Giving a story a contemporary milieu is no guarantee of authenticity; authenticity means an internally consistent world, true to itself in scope, depth, and detail. As Aristotle tells us: “For the purposes of [story] a convincing impossibility is preferable to an unconvincing possibility.” We can all list films that had us moaning: “I don’t buy it. People aren’t like that. Makes no sense. That’s not how things happen.” Authenticity has nothing to do with so-called reality. A story set in a world that could never exist could be absolutely authentic.” ( :134)

“Authenticity depends on the “telling detail.” When we use a few selected details, the audience’s imagination supplies the rest, completing a credible whole. On the other hand, if the writer and director try too hard to be “real”—especially with sex and violence—the audience reaction is: “That’s not really real,” or “My God, that’s so real,” or “They’re not really fucking,” or “My God, they’re really fucking.” In either case, credibility shatters as the audience is yanked out of the story to notice the filmmaker’s technique. An audience believes as long as we don’t give them reason to doubt.” ( :136)

“, and she flees down the fire escape, heading. The INCITING INCIDENT radically upsets the balance of forces in the protagonist’s life.” ( :137)

“For better or worse, an event throws a character’s life out of balance, arousing in him the conscious and/or unconscious desire for that which he feels will restore balance, launching” ( :141)

“him on a Quest for his Object of Desire against forces of antagonism (inner, personal, extrapersonal). He may or may not achieve it. This is story in a nutshell.” ( :142)

“But that’s like saying that the essential form of The essential form of story is simple.” ( :142)

“DERu MERCIES—by looking into the heart of the protagonist and discovering his desire, est on which the Inciting Incident sends him.” ( :142)

“But why make an audience sit through a subplot, waiting half an hour for the main plot to begin? ROCKY, for example, is in the Sports Genre. Why not start with two quick scenes: The heavyweight champion gives an obscure club fighter a shot at the title (setup), followed by Rocky choosing to take the fight (payoff). Why not open the film with its Central Plot?” ( :145)

“Because if ROCKY’s Inciting Incident were the first event we saw, our reaction would have been a shrug and “So what?” Therefore, Stallone uses the first half-hour to delineate Rocky’s world and character with craft and economy, so that when Rocky agrees to the fight, the audience’s reaction is strong and complete: “Him? That loser?!” They sit in shock, dreading the blood-soaked, bone-crushing defeat that lies ahead. Bring in the Central Plot’s Inciting Incident as soon as possible… but not until the moment is ripe.” ( :145)

“Ingmar Bergman is one of the cinema’s best directors because he is, in my opinion, the cinema’s finest screenwriter. And the one quality that stands above all the others in Bergman’s writing is his extreme economy—how little he tells us about anything” ( :146)

“No book-signing scenes to help us understand that the father is a commercial but not critical success. No scenes in an operating room to demonstrate the doctor’s profession. No boarding school scenes to explain how much the son needs his father. No electric shock treatment sessions to explain the daughter’s anguish. Bergman knows that his urbane audience quickly grasps the implications behind best-seller, doctor, boarding school, and mental hospital… and that less is always more.” ( :146)

“st? How could that become the best? How could that lead the protagonist to damnation? t—is not about the middle ground of human experience. The impact of the Inciting Incident creates our opportunity to reach the limits of life. It’s a kind of explosion.” ( :149)

“A story must not retreat to actions of lesser quality or magnitude, but move progressively forward to a final action beyond which the audience cannot imagine another.” ( :151)

“ped, then very quickly we would hear in our imaginations thed sound of a ticking clock. is so subjective, if the orchestra were silent for just three minutes, it would seem like thirty. The music of story is conflict. As long as conflict engages our thoughts and emotions we travel through the hours unaware of the voyage. Then suddenly the film’s over. We glance at our watches, amazed. But when conflict disappears, so do we.” ( :152)

“Writers at these extremes fail to realize that while the quality of conflict changes as it shifts from level to level, the quantity of conflict in life is constant. Something is always lacking. Like squeezing a balloon, the volume of conflict never changes, it just bulges in another direction. When we remove conflict from one level of life, it amplifies ten times over on another level.” ( :152)

“t order serenity turns to boredom. Now Sartre’s “scarcity” is the absence ofk conflict its” ( :153)

“COMPLICATION: CONFLICT AT ONLY ONE LEVEL” ( :153)

“INNER CONFLICT — Stream of Consciousness PERSONAL CONFLICT — Soap Opera EXTRA-PERSONAL CONFLICT — Action/Adventure, Farce” ( :154)

“s, all needing sets to house them: livingr rooms, bedrooms, offices, nightclubs, hospitals. They suffer when they don’t get what they want, but because they’re either good people or bad, they rarely face true inner dilemmas. Society never intervenes in their air-conditioned worlds. If, for example, a murder should bring a detective, a representative of society, into the story, you can be certain that within a week this cop will have an intimate and personal relationship with every other character in the Soap.” ( :154)

“se, my advice to most writers is to design relatively simple butd complex stories. “estrained by these two principles: Do not proliferate characters; do not multiply locations. Rather than hopscotching through time, space, and people, discipline yourself to a reasonably contained cast and world, while you concentrate on creating a rich complexity.” ( :156)

“Generally, a three-act story requires four memorable scenes: the Inciting Incident that opens the telling, and an Act One, Act Two, and Act Three Climax. In the Inciting Incident of KRAMER VS. KRAMER Mrs. Kramer walks out on her husband and her son. Act One Climax: She returns, demanding custody of the child. Act Two Climax: The court awards custody of the son to his mother. Act Three Climax: Like her ex-husband, she realizes that they must act selflessly for the best interest of the child they love and returns the boy to Kramer. Four powerful turning points spanned with excellent scenes and sequences.” ( :159)

“Second, the multiplication of acts reduces the impact of climaxes and results in repetitiousness.” ( :159)

“he Inciting Incident may enter as late as twenty, thirty, or more minutes into the telling. ffect of this is that the Inciting Incident becomes, in effect, the first act Climax and serves two purposes.” ( :160)

“peat the same charge. If the protagonist achieves his Object ofx Desire, making the last ative. You cannot set up an up-ending with an up-ending: “Things were wonderful… then they got even better!”” ( :162)

“tional charge of the Penultimate Climax? The answer’s found in close study of the t negative, it should never be balanced. If it is, the positive and negative values cancel each other out and the story ends in a bland neutrality.” ( :162)

“The screenwriting is the art of making the mental physical. We create visual correlatives for inner conflict—not dialogue or narration to describe ideas and emotions, but images of character choice and action to indirectly and ineffably express the thoughts and feelings within. Therefore, the interior life a novel must be reinvented for the screen.” ( :165)

“The effects of Turning Points are fourfold: surprise, increased curiosity, insight, and new direction.” ( :168)

“When a gap opens between expectation and result, it jolts the audience with surprise. The world has reacted in a way neither character nor audience had foreseen. This moment of shock instantly provokes curiosity as the audience wonders “Why?”” ( :168)

“Climax of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK propels the longest rush for insight Ik know. mill) fight to the death with light sabers, Vader steps back and says: “You can’t kill me, Luke, I’m your father.” The word “father” explodes one of the most famous gaps in film” ( :169)

“The storyteller leads us into expectation, makes us think we understand, then cracks” ( :169)

“open reality, creating surprise and curiosity, sending us back through his story again and again. On each trip back, we gain deeper and deeper insight into the natures of his characters and their world—a sudden awareness of the ineffable truths that lie hidden beneath the film’s images. He then takes his story in a new direction in an everescalating progression of such moments.” ( :170)

“ther and couldn’t admit. Still, it’sd not over. Suddenly, out of the blue, a second thought: And that Climax could set up a last act Story Climax in which Mike takes his revenge and…” You’ve found your story because you’ve allowed yourself to think the unthinkable. In storytelling, logic is retroactive.” ( :173)

“The Law of Diminishing Returns, true in life as well as in story, is this: The more often we experience something, the less effect it has.” ( :174)

“eem the exception to this principle in that we often seem to laugh repeatedly, it’s not. hurl at something we find ridiculous or outrageous.” ( :175)

“a host of taboos—then the punch explodes laughter. This is the secret to comic timing: his intuitively, but one thing he learns objectively is that he can’t deliver punch, punch, punch without wearing out his welcome.” ( :175)

“itive to positive or negatives to negative, if the contrast between these events is so great,overs argue and break up. Negative. Next, one kills the other. The second turn is so powerfully negative that the argument begins to seem positive. In the light of the murder, the audience will look back at the breakup and think: “At least they were talking then.”” ( :175)

“The Law of Diminishing Returns is true of everything in life, except sex, which seems endlessly repeatable with effect.” ( :175)

“The arc of the scene, sequence, or act determines the basic emotion. Mood makes it specific. But mood will not substitute for emotion. When we want mood experiences, we go to concerts or museums. When we want meaningful emotional experience, we go to the storyteller. It does the writer no good to write an exposition-filled scene in which nothing changes, then set it in a garden at sundown, thinking that a golden mood will carry the day. All the writer has done is dump weak writing on the shoulders of the director and cast. Undramatized exposition is boring in any light. Film is not about decorative photography.” ( :177)

“If we do not understand that much about human nature—that a human being is only capable of acting toward the right or the good as he has come to believe it or rationalize it—then we understand very little. Good/evil, right/wrong choices are dramatically” ( :177)

“obvious and trivial. True choice is dilemma.” ( :178)

“How then might we write a love scene? Let two people change the tire on a car. Let the scene be a virtual textbook on how to fix a flat. Let all dialogue and action be about jack, wrench, hubcap, and lug nuts: “Hand me that, would ya?” “Watch out.” “Don’t get dirty.” “Let me… whoops.” The actors will interpret the real action of the scene, so leave room for them to bring romance to life wholly from the inside. As their eyes meet and sparks fly, we’ll know what’s happening because it’s in the unspoken thoughts and emotions of the actors. As we see through the surface, we’ll lean back with a knowing smile: “Look what happened. They’re not just changing the tire on a car. He thinks she’s hot and she knows it. Boy has met girl.”” ( :181)

“life would be a lunatic asylum. Indeed, that’s how you know you’re talking to a lunatic. allow themselves to say and do exactly what they are thinking and feeling and that’s why they’re mad.” ( :182)

“macy too private to reveal. And as he rips terribles thoughts and desires to the surface, in those notes? What is not being said, the secret, unconscious truths that lie behind the patient’s gut-wrenching confession. Nothing is what is seems. No text without a subtext.” ( :182)

“Evelyn Mulwray cries out: “She’s my sister and my daughter. My father CHINATOWN: se help me.” Her anguished confession is in fact a plea for help. Subtext: “I didn’t kill my husband; my father did… to possess my child. If you arrest me, he’ll take her. Please help me.”” ( :182)

“Subtext is present even when a character is alone. For if no one else is watching us, we are. We wear masks to hide our true selves from ourselves.” ( :183)

“t truth. Hospital staffs all wear white and act as if professional, caring, andd scientific. go and a touch of madness are invisibly there. If you want to die, go to a hospital.” ( :183)

“es warrant it, but we don’t want to hit the same note over and over, so that every scene in the comic, the political in the personal, the personal driving the political, the extraordinary behind the usual, the trivial in the exalted.” ( :209)

“It’s just like sex. Masters of the bedroom arts pace their love-making. They begin by taking each other to a state of delicious tension short of—and we use the same word in both cases—climax, then tell a joke and shift positions before building each other to an even higher tension short of climax;” ( :211)

“When we study the many exceptions to this principle, they only prove the point. TWELVE ANGRY MEN takes place over two days in a jury room. In essence, it consists of two fifty-minute scenes in one location, with a brief break for a night’s sleep. But because it’s based on a play, director Sidney Lumet could take advantage of its French Scenes.” ( :211)

“Te mpo is the level of activity within a scene via dialogue, action, or a combination. For example, lovers talking quietly from pillow to pillow may have low tempo; an argument in a courtroom, high tempo. A character staring out a window coming to a vital life decision may have low tempo; a riot, high tempo.” ( :212)

“Again, the Law of Diminishing Returns applies: The more often we pause, the less effective a pause is. If the scenes before a major Climax are long and slow, the big scene in which we want the tension to hold falls flat.” ( :212)

“SOCIAL PROGRESSION Widen the impact of character actions into society.” ( :213)

“PERSONAL PROGRESSION Drive actions deeply into the intimate relationships and inner lives of the characters.” ( :214)

“SYMBOLIC ASCENSION Build the symbolic charge of the story’s imagery from the particular to the universal, the specific to the archetypal.” ( :214)

“The streets of Los Angeles conspire into the ancient archetype of the labyrinth.” ( :215)

“Freeways, alleyways, cul-de-sacs, and corridors of buildings twist and turn the characters until they work their way down to its tangled heart. There Sarah, like Theseus at the center of the Minoan maze battling the half-man/half-bull Minotaur, confronts the half-man/half-robot Terminator. If she vanquishes the demon, she will, like the Virgin Mary, give birth to the savior of humanity, John Connor (JC), and raise him to lead humanity to deliverance in the coming holocaust. Sarah progresses from waitress to goddess, and the film’s symbolic progression lifts it above almost all others in its genre.” ( :216)

“IRONIC ASCENSION Turn progression on irony.” ( :216)

“RAIN: The religious bigot Reverend Davidson (Walter Huston) battles to save the soul of the prostitute Sadie Thompson (Joan Crawford), but falls into lust for her, rapes her, then kills himself in shame.” ( :217)

“d element, the link that joins the tail ofo Scene A with the head of Scene B. Generally, have in common or what they have in opposition.” ( :218)

“The third element is the hinge for a transition; something held in common by two scenes or counterpointed between them.” ( :218)

“Examples:” ( :218)

“This dilemma confronts the protagonist who, when face-to-face with the most powerful and focused forces of antagonism in his life, must make a decision to take one action or another in a last effort to achieve his Object of Desire.” ( :219)

“At Crisis the protagonist’s willpower is most severely tested. As we know from life, something for as long as possible, then as we finally make the decision and step into the” ( :219)

“action, we’re surprised by its relative ease. We’re left to wonder why we dreaded doing it until we realize that most of life’s actions are within our reach, but decisions take willpower.” ( :220)

“The location of the Crisis is determined by the length of the climactic action.” ( :221)

“The Crisis decision must be a deliberately static moment. This is the Obligatory Scene. Do not put it offscreen, or skim over it.” ( :222)

“ould send a telegram to the Emotion.”” ( :223)

“MEANING: A revolution in values from positive to negative or negative to positive with or without irony—a value swing at maximum charge that’s absolute and irreversible. The meaning of that change moves the heart of the audience.” ( :223)

“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.” ( :224)

“o determines which particular emotion will satisfy an audience at the end of ae film? dience: “Expect an up-ending” or “Expect a down-ending” or “Expect irony.” Having pledged a certain emotion, it’d be ruinous not to deliver. So we give the audience the experience we’ve promised, but not in the way it expects. This is what separates artist from amateur.” ( :224)

 

Part 4 The Writer at Work

 

“The first draft of anything is shit. — ERNEST HEMINGWAY” ( :227)

“THE PRINCIPLE OF ANTAGONISM: A protagonist and his story can only be as intellectually fascinating and emotionally compelling as the forces of antagonism make them.” ( :228)

“Begin by identifying the primary value at stake in your story. For example, Justice. Generally, the protagonist will represent the positive charge of this value; the forces of antagonism, the negative. Life, however, is subtle and complex, rarely a case of yes/no, good/evil, right/wrong. There are degrees of negativity.” ( :229)

“Between the Positive value and its Contradictory, however, is the Contrary: a situation that’s somewhat negative but not fully the opposite. The Contrary of justice is unfairness, a situation that’s negative but not necessarily illegal: nepotism, racism, bureaucratic delay, bias, inequities of all kinds.” ( :229)

“lian uses double and even triple negatives so that a statement feels like its meaning. n’t have nothing never!). Italians know life. Double negatives turn positive only in math and formal logic. In life things just get worse and worse and worse.” ( :230)

“A story that progresses to the limit of human experience in depth and breadth of conflict must move through a pattern that includes the Contrary, the Contradictory, and the Negation of the Negation.” ( :230)

“egation is at the limit of the dark powers of human nature. In terms of justice, this state well as social politics: “Might Makes Right.”” ( :230)

“The generals can make illegal on Tuesday what you Chile is in the grip of tyranny. on Wednesday, execute you on Thursday, and make it legal again Friday morning.” ( :231)

“The difference between the Contradictory and the Negation of the Negation of justice is the difference between the relatively limited and temporary power of those who break the law versus the unlimited and enduring power of those who make the law.” ( :231)

“difference between a world where law exists and a world where might makes right. The governments against their own citizens.” ( :231)

“All other factors of talent, craft, and knowledge being equal, greatness is found in the writer’s treatment of the negative side.” ( :238)

“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.” ( :239)

“gether. That’s a longo time, isn’t it, Harry? Well, how the hell are ya this morning?” dropping audience that Jack and Harry are friends, went to school together twenty years ago, and they haven’t had lunch yet—a deadly beat of unnatural behavior. No one ever tells someone something they both already know unless saying the obvious fills another and compelling need. Therefore, if this information is needed, the writer must create a motivation for the dialogue that’s greater than the facts.” ( :239)

“Convert exposition to To dram.” ( :239)

“at they know as ammunition in their struggle to get what they want.d Converting the ot eyes, says, “Harry, look at you. The same hippie haircut, still stoned by noon, the same juvenile stunts that got you kicked out of school twenty years ago. Are you ever gonna wake up and smell the coffee?”” ( :239)

“the entire story, ofteno revealing exposition well into the Climax of the last act. hing the audience can reasonably and easily assume has happened. Never pass on exposition unless the missing fact would cause confusion.” ( :240)

“story is pressure the greatest? At the end of the line. e the best for last.” ( :241)

“In THE LAST EMPEROR a man spends his life trying to answer the question: Who am I? At age three Pu Yi is made Emperor but has no idea what that means. To him a palace is a playground. He clings to his childhood identity until as a teenager he’s still” ( :241)

“nursing from the breast. The Imperial officials insist he act like an emperor, but he then discovers there is no empire. Burdened with a false identity, he tries on one personality after another but none fit: first English scholar and gentleman; then sex athlete and hedonist; later international bon vivant doing Sinatra imitations at posh parties; next a statesman, only to end up a puppet to the Japanese. Finally, the Communists give him his last identity—gardener.” ( :242)

“a disease that threatens all human life on the planet, what’s he doing on this mission? alogue in which one character is telling another something that they both already know or should know, ask yourself, is it dramatized? Is it exposition as ammunition? If not, cut it.” ( :243)

“Powerful revelations come from the BACKSTORY—previous significant events in the lives of the characters that the writer can reveal at critical moments to create Turning Points.” ( :243)

“Second, do not bring in a flashback until you have created in the audience the need and desire to know.” ( :244)

“More importantly, “Show, don’t tell” means respect the intelligence and sensitivity of your audience. Invite them to bring their best selves to the ritual, to watch, think, feel, and draw their own conclusions. Do not put them on your knee as if they were children and “explain” life, for the misuse and overuse of narration is not only slack, it’s patronizing. And if the trend toward it continues, cinema will degrade into adulterated novels and our art will shrivel.” ( :246)

“Mafia logic runs like this: “People want prostitution, narcotics, and illicit gambling. When they’re in trouble, they want to bribe police and judges. They want to taste the fruits of crime, but they’re lying hypocrites and won’t admit it. We provide these services but we’re not hypocrites. We deal in realities. We are the ‘good’ people.” Mr. Coney Island was a conscienceless assassin, but inside he was convinced he was good.” ( :249)

“ed for years inside the death camp. With the war’s end, they went their separate ways. hotel. He’s now a hotel porter, she a guest traveling with her concert pianist husband. Once up in their room she tells her husband she’s ill, sends him on ahead to his concert, then stays behind to resume her affair with her former lover. This couple is the Center of Good.” ( :249)

“nter of Good around Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) and draw empathy to both. qualities: massive intelligence, a sharp wit and sense of irony, gentlemanly charm, and most importantly, calmness. How, we wondered, could someone who lives in such a hellish world remain so poised and polite?” ( :250)

“hback that tediously details the lives of the passengers and crewe leading up to the fatal n’t worry, folks, if you stick with me through this boring stretch, I’ll eventually get back to the exciting stuff.”” ( :254)

“Second, never use coincidence to turn an ending. This is deus ex machina, the writer’s greatest sin.” ( :256)

“Story climaxes were as difficult twenty-five hundred years ago as now. But ancient playwrights had a way out. They would cook a story, twist Turning Points until they had the audience on the edge of their marble seats, then if the playwright’s creativity dried up and he was lost for a true Climax, convention allowed him to dodge the problem by cranking a god to the stage and letting an Apollo or Athena settle everything. Who lives, who dies, who marries who, who is damned for eternity. And they did this over and over.” ( :256)

“machina not only erases all meaning and emotion, it’s an insult to the” ( :256)

“the meaning of our lives. No one and nothing coincidental will come along to take that responsibility from us, regardless of the injustices and chaos around us.” ( :257)

“When a society cannot ridicule and criticize its institutions, it cannot laugh. The shortest book ever written would be the history of German humor, a culture that has suffered spells of paralyzing fear of authority. Comedy is at heart an angry, antisocial art. To solve the problem of weak comedy, therefore, the writer first asks: What am I” ( :258)

“The solution, however, is not found in trying to devise clever lines or pie in the face. Gags come naturally when the comic structure calls for them. Instead, concentrate on Turning Points. For each action first ask, “What’s the opposite of that?” then take it a step farther to “What’s off-the-wall from that?” Spring gaps of comic surprise—write a funny story.” ( :259)

“Each story is set in a specific time and place, yet scene by scene, as we imagine events, where do we locate ourselves in space to view the action? This is Point of View—the physical angle we take in order to describe the behavior of our characters, their interaction with one another and the environment. How we make our choices of Point of View has enormous influence on how the reader reacts to the scene and how the director will later stage and shoot it.” ( :260)

“This first encourages us to empathize with Jack, the second asks empathy for Tony, the third draws us close to both, the fourth with neither and prompts us to laugh at them.” ( :260)

“That is the lay of the land. Now imagine the problems of adaptation. Over the decades hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to option the film rights to literary works that are then tossed into the laps of screenwriters who read them and go running, screaming into the night, “Nothing’s happens! The whole book is in the character’s head!”” ( :262)

“first principle of adaptation: The purer the novel, the purer the Therefore, the” ( :262)

“m the original work, but feeling free to cut scenes and, if necessary,l to create new ones. s’ mouths with self-explanatory dialogue but find visual expression for their inner conflicts. This is where you’ll succeed or fail.” ( :264)

“Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. She is, in my view, the To learn adaptation study the work ofm history. She’s a Pole born in Germany who writes in English. Having reinvented her nationality, she’s become the master reinventer for film. Like a chameleon or trance-medium, she inhabits the colors and spirit of other writers. Read Quartet, A Room with a View, The Bostonians, pull a step-outline from each novel, then scene by scene compare your work to Jhabvala. You’ll learn a lot. Notice that she and director James Ivory restrict themselves to the social novelists—Jean Rhys, E. M. Forster, Henry James—knowing that the primary conflicts will be extra-personal and camera attractive. No Proust, no Joyce, no Kafka.” ( :264)

“daring and cowardliness, of saints and tyrants from Mother Teresa to Saddam Hussein. already done and in ways you cannot imagine. None of it is melodrama; it’s simply human.” ( :265)

“NCA: Ferrari (Sidney Greenstreet) is the ultimate capitalist and crook who CASABLA anything except for money. Yet at one point Ferrari helps Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) find the precious letters of transit and wants nothing in return. That’s out of character, illogical. Knowing this, the writers gave Ferrari the line: “Why I’m doing this I don’t know because it can’t possibly profit me…” Rather than hiding the hole, the writers admitted it with the bold lie that Ferrari might be impulsively generous. The audience knows we often do things for reasons we can’t explain. Complimented, it nods, thinking, “Even Ferrari doesn’t get it. Fine. On with the film.”” ( :266)

“To discuss psychology, medieval scholarship devised another ingenious conceit: the Mind Worm.” ( :268)

“Reading that I had to smile, for the writer is a Mind Worm. We too burrow into a character to discover his aspects, his potential, then create an event geared to his unique nature—the Inciting Incident.” ( :268)

“Character design begins with an arrangement of the two primary aspects: Characterization and True Character. To repeat: Characterization is the sum of all the observable qualities, a combination that makes the character unique: physical appearance coupled with mannerisms, style of speech and gesture, sexuality, age, IQ, occupation, personality, attitudes, values, where he lives, how he lives. True Character waits behind this mask. Despite his characterization, at heart who is this person? Loyal or disloyal? Honest or a liar? Loving or cruel? Courageous or cowardly? Generous or selfish? Willful or weak? TRUE CHARACTER can only be expressed through choice in dilemma. How the person chooses to act under pressure is who he is—the greater the pressure, the truer and deeper the choice to character.” ( :269)

“he moment), for in truth there are no definitive explanations for anyone’s behavior. nishes the character in the audience’s mind. Rather, think through to a solid understanding of motive, but at the same time leave some mystery around the whys, a touch of the irrational perhaps, room for the audience to use its own life experience to enhance your character in its imagination.” ( :269)

“my bastardy.” Edmund does evil for the pure pleasure of it. Beyond that, what matters? he does.” ( :270)

“also break dance. He’s got a black b—” ( :270)

“ambitious, there’d be no play. He’d simply defeat the English and rule Scotland.s ambition on one hand and his guilt on the other. From this profound inner contradiction” ( :270)

“springs his passion, his complexity, his poetry.” ( :271)

“Dime nsion means contradiction: either within deep character (guilt-ridden ambition) or between characterization and deep character (a charming thief). These contradictions must be consistent. It doesn’t add dimension to portray a guy as nice throughout a film, then in one scene have him kick a cat.” ( :271)

“BLADE RUNNER: Marketing positioned the audience to empathize with Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, but once in the theatre, filmgoers were drawn to the greater dimensionality of the replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). As the Center of Good shifted to the antagonist, the audience’s emotional confusion diminished its enthusiasm, and what should have been a huge success became a cult film.” ( :271)

“Character A, for example, provokes the protagonist’s sadness and cynicism, while Character B brings out his witty, hopeful side. Character C inspires his loving and courageous emotions, while Character D forces him first to cower in fear, then to strike out in fury.” ( :271)

“t of characterization. Dimension, therefore, can be created by a simple counterpoint: or a strange, mysterious individual within an ordinary, down-toearth society immediately generates interest.” ( :272)

“On the other hand, the cab driver to end all cab drivers: a gravel-voiced but wonderfully obliging oddball who gives her a definitive tutorial in big-city survival— how to wear her purse strap across her chest, where to keep her mace can. Then he drives her to the Bronx, charges her a hundred and fifty bucks and tells her she’s in Manhattan. He comes on helpful, turns into a thieving rat—a contradiction between characterization and deep character.” ( :273)

“An actor’s reaction to a script saturated with that kind of detail is to toss it in the trash, thinking, “They don’t want an actor, they want a puppet.” Or if the actor accepts the role, he’ll take a red pencil and scratch all that nonsense off the page. The details above are meaningless. An actor wants to know: What do I want? Why do I want it? How do I go about getting it? What stops me? What are the consequences?” ( :274)

“A hint about villains: If your character’s up to no good and you place yourself within his being, asking, “If I were he in this situation, what would I do?,” you’d do everything possible to get away with it. Therefore, you would not act like a villain; you would not twist your mustache. Sociopaths are the most charming folks we ever meet—sympathetic listeners who seem so deeply concerned about our problems while they lead us to hell.” ( :276)

“Eve rything I learned about human nature I learned from me. —Anton Chekhov” ( :276)

“urce of characterizations, but understanding of deep ch” ( :276)

“We all share the same crucial human experiences. Each of us is suffering and enjoying, dreaming and hoping of getting through our days with something of value. As a writer, you can be certain that everyone coming down the street toward you, each in his own way, is having the same fundamental human thoughts and feelings that you are. This is why when you ask yourself, “If I were this character in these circumstances, what would I do?” the honest answer is always correct. You would do the human thing. Therefore, the more you penetrate the mysteries of your own humanity, the more you come to understand yourself, the more you are able to understand others.” ( :277)

“When we survey the parade of characters that has marched out of the imaginations of, Bergman, Goldman, and all other masters—each character fascinating, unique, sublimely human and so many, many of them—and realize that all were born of a single humanity… it’s astounding.” ( :277)

“But that’s okay because conversation isn’t about making points or achieving closure. change relationships.” ( :278)

“re indeed friends.” They might talk about sports, weather, shopping… anything” ( :278)

“ocabulary, complete with contractions, slang, and even, if necessary” ( :278)

“mental human thoughts and feelings that you are. This is why when you ask yourself, he honest answer is always correct. You would do the human thing.” ( :279)

“Classical Greek theatre as The essence of screen dialogue is what was known in speeches. Long speeches are antithetical with the aesthetics of cinema.” ( :279)

“face of a clock for a full sixty seconds and you’ll realize that a minute is ay long time. ssive and the shot becomes redundant. It’s the same effect as a stuck record repeating the same note over and over. When the eye is bored, it leaves the screen; when it leaves the screen, you lose the audience.” ( :280)

“The best advice for writing film dialogue is don’t. Never write a line of dialogue when you can create a visual expression. The first attack on every scene should be: How could I write this in a purely visual way and not have to resort to a single line of dialogue? Obey the Law of Diminishing Returns: The more dialogue you write, the less effect dialogue has.” ( :282)

“lf to be seduced by a waiter in order to provoke her sister with ” scene… how would you write it? Does the waiter open a menu and recommend certain items? Ask her if she’s staying” ( :282)

“at the hotel? Traveling far? Compliment her on how she’s dressed? Ask her if she knows the city? Mention he’s getting off work and would love to show her the sights? Talk, talk… Here’s what Bergman gave us: The waiter walks to the table and accidentally on purpose drops the napkin on the floor. As he bends to pick it up, he slowly sniffs and smells Anna from head to crotch to foot. She, in reaction, draws a long, slow, almost delirious breath. CUT TO: They’re in a hotel room. Perfect, isn’t it? Erotic, purely visual, not a word said or necessary. That’s screenwriting.” ( :283)

“”When the screenplay has been written and the Alfred Hitchcock once remarked, hoot.”” ( :283)

“looking at the screen. Ninety percent of all verbal expression has no filmic equivalent. antly discipline the imagination with this question: What do I see on the screen? Then describe only what is photographic: Perhaps “He stubs out his tenth cigarette,” “He nervously glances at his watch,” or “He yawns, trying to stay awake” to suggest waiting a long time.” ( :283)

“The same applies to verbs. A typical line of nondescription: “He starts to move slowly across the room.” How does somebody “start” across a room on film? The character either crosses or takes a step and stops. And “move slowly”? “Slowly” is an adverb; “move” a vague, bland verb. Instead, name the action: “He pads across the room.” “He (ambles, strolls, moseys, saunters, drags himself, staggers, waltzes, glides, lumbers, tiptoes, creeps, slouches, shuffles, waddles, minces, trudges, teeters, lurches, gropes, hobbles) across the room.” All are slow but each vivid and distinctively different from the others.” ( :284)

“Eliminate “is” and “are” throughout.” ( :284)

“n it shelters or guards a village below it; al door slam can crack the ear like a gunshot. with gunshots to subliminally increase tension as the conscious mind hears a door slam but the unconscious reacts to a gunshot.” ( :284)

“INT. DINING ROOM—DAY Jack enters, dropping his briefcase on the antique chair next to the door. He notices a note propped up on the dining room table. Strolling over, he picks up the note, tears it open, and reads. Then crumpling the note, he drops into a chair, head in hands. If the audience knows the contents of the note from a previous scene, then the description stays on Jack reading and slumping into a chair. If, however, it’s vital that the audience read the note with Jack or it wouldn’t be able follow the story, then: INT. DINING ROOM—DAY Jack enters, dropping his briefcase on the antique chair next to the door. He notices a note propped up on the dining room table. Strolling over, he picks it up and tears it open. INSERT NOTE:” ( :285)

“Calligraphic handwriting reads: Jack, I’ve packed and left. Do not try to contact me. I have a lawyer. She will be in touch. Barbara” ( :286)

“The body sits up, water cascades off. Its eyes open but there are no eyeballs. Hands reach out for her, she grabs her chest, has a fatal heart attack, and drops dead on the floor. Michel reaches under his eyelids and removes white plastic inserts. Nicole jumps out of a closet. They embrace and whisper, “We did it!”” ( :290)

“binoculars; eyes themselves, and even the open, unseeing eyes of the dead, all gather looking in the wrong direction. It is in here. In us. As Mao Tse-tung once said, “History is the symptom, we are the disease.”” ( :291)

“d doesn’t need cognition, sos music can deeply affect us when we’re unconscious of it. as we don’t recognize them as symbolic. Awareness of a symbol turns it into a neutral, intellectual curiosity, powerless” ( :292)

“oes while we dream. The use ofo symbolism follows the same principle as scoring a film. when we’re unconscious of it. In the same way, symbols touch us and move us—as long as we don’t recognize them as symbolic. Awareness of a symbol turns it into a neutral, intellectual curiosity, powerless and virtually meaningless.” ( :292)

“To title means to name. An effective title points to something solid that is actually in the story—character, setting, theme, or genre. The best titles often name two or all elements at once.” ( :293)

“se, isn’t the only marketing consideration. As the legendary Harry Cohn once observed, “eat f… ing title.”” ( :293)

“ty from story to story, and receives little, if any, income from his efforts. On ther whole, osed methods of work: inside out versus outside in.” ( :294)

“sweet! Thet scene on the beach was so romantic, and when the car blew up, exciting. nding… and the middle… and the way it starts… that just doesn’t work for me.”” ( :294)

“Successful writers tend to use the reverse process. If, hypothetically and optimistically, a screenplay can be written from first idea to last draft in six months, these writers typically spend the first four of those six months writing on stacks of three-by-five cards: a stack for each act—three, four, perhaps more. On these cards they create the story’s step-outline.” ( :295)

“ten minutes, how will it work in 110 minutes? It won’t get better when it gets his ten times worse onscreen.” ( :296)

“forward. “With enthusiasm” doesn’t mean people leap up and kiss you on both cheeks, story—has the power to silence the chatter in the mind and lift us to another place. When a story, pitched from a step-outline, is so strong it brings silence—no comments, no criticism, just a look of pleasure—” ( :297)

 

Fade Out

 

“On the forest floor, the millipede, realizing that only her pride was hurt, slowly, carefully, limb by limb, unraveled herself. With patience and hard work, she studied and flexed and tested her appendages, until she was able to stand and walk. What was once instinct became knowledge.” ( :300)

“born with. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and ski” ( :300)


Check out more book notes at How I Read 90 Books In The Past 2 Years By Reading 20 Pages A Day

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