How Can I Develop My Character Quickly?

When asked how to accelerate the development of characters, Robert McKee explains how every turning point, even those without a character in them, can reveal something about a character.


Quote of the Week:

“Stories are not made of words. Stories are not made of pictures necessarily. They’re not made of music. Stories are made of events. Some events are very small, and other events are very large, but that’s what the material is. Stories are made of events. And the more compelling and interesting the events, the more authority the story will have over us. That’s how I see it.”

Isaac Bashevis Singer




EDGE OF TOMORROW: A Short Film Review by Robert McKee

Tom Cruise gives a wonderful performance in EDGE OF TOMORROW, with a combination of heroism and “are you kidding me?”

We know that a time travel film is a convention of absurdity so there’s often a comic, tongue-in-cheek sense of “look, you and I know this is rather ridiculous but let’s agree that it’s not for the sake of this story.” Here is how you know a film is in the spirit of comedy: when the film is over and when the hero makes the world right again, no one actually got hurt. In EDGE OF TOMORROW you see a lot of dying, constant deaths, but ultimately no one is hurt. Other good examples of this convention are BACK TO THE FUTURE and TERMINATOR.

However, in films like THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and SOMEWHERE IN TIME, time travel is used as a romantic device. For example, time travel in SOMEWHERE IN TIME is not some sort of sci-fi device, there is no time travel machine, no DeLorean car that goes to the future or the past. In SOMEWHERE IN TIME, you will yourself back into the past. And the ability to will yourself into the past is based on how deeply you love. And so it’s kind of a psychic time travel based upon love, and passion.

EDGE OF TOMORROW is also a perfect example of multiplying the forces of antagonism. Just when you think they have reached the limit of these forces of antagonism, it builds again in a spiral and you think there is no way out of this. Turning points keep spiraling up and constantly surprising you, keep on building the negation of negation right to the edge. And finally, when you’re saying enough is enough, they switch gears again and end the film brilliantly.

I highly recommend it.

Robert McKee – Oct 15, 2014

What Is a Testing Plot?

In this two-part Q&A, Robert McKee discusses the inciting incident and struggle of this somewhat rare story. In Part 1, McKee explains the nature of a testing plot.

If you’re considering using a testing plot,  recall that these can often be mixed with other plots, as in the examples McKee provides in Part 2.


Quote of the Week:

“In the old times, character and dialogue were essential tools in the film-maker’s kit. Now they are the last things they consider after special effects and car chases.”

- Richard Dreyfuss




How Do I Write the Opposite Sex?

Can a female author write a convincing male character, or vice versa? What would a man do in this situation? What would a woman do? Robert McKee explains what either one would do and how a great writer can capture the truth authentically.



Quote of the Week:

“If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom,   but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.”

- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


Featured Articles:

“Alice Munro: In Her Own Words”

An interview with Nobel Laureate Alice Munro, in which she discusses many aspects of the writing process that eventually garnered her the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.


Huffington Post Interviews William H. Macy

Actor / director William H. Macy talks about his new film RUDDERLESS, his writing process, and the advice of Robert McKee.




What? You Want to Tell Them the Ending First?

Can a film still be enjoyable if the audience knows how it will end? Sometimes the audience wants to know what will happen. Sometimes it already knows but still gets something out of the film. Robert McKee explains the difference.


Quotes of the Week:

Surely all art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.

- Rainer Maria Rilke


Do not drown your script with endless dialogue and long speeches. Every question does not call for a response. Whenever you can express an emotion with a silent gesture, do so. Once you pose the question permit it to linger before you get a reply. Or better yet, perhaps the character cannot reply, he or she has no answer. This permits the unspoken response to hang in mid-air.

- Philip Yordan


Featured Article:

“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and… Interviewed McKee” 

In this interview with Evening Express film reviewer Callum Reid, McKee debunks the oft-repeated influence of Joseph Campbell on George Lucas’ STAR WARS, defines the differences between ‘form’ and ‘formula’, compares THE LEGO MOVIE to THE WIZARD OF OZ, and more.



Should Comic Characters be Soulless?

It seems that it could be hard to laugh at a character’s misfortune if you empathize too much. Robert McKee explains what distinguishes a comic character from a dramatic character.



Quotes of the Week:

“The analysis of character is the highest human entertainment.”

- Isaac Bashevis Singer


“Nothing in man is more serious than his sense of humor; it is the sign that he wants all the truth.”

- Mark van Doren


Featured Article:

“Woody Allen: The Art of Humor No. 1 “ – The Paris Review 

The Paris Review‘s Michiko Kakutani talks with the acclaimed writer / director of ANNIE HALL about the craft of comedic storytelling.



Could My Story Have Two Inciting Incidents?

When it comes to starting a story, is less more, or is more more? Robert McKee explains why any writing question that starts with “Could I?” has the same answer, then provides insight into inciting incidents.



Quotes of the Week:

“When you start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none. So you might as well use a typewriter because it is that much easier and you enjoy it that much more. After you learn to write your whole object is to convey everything, every sensation, sight, feeling, place and emotion to the reader. To do this you have to work over what you write. If you write with a pencil you get three different sights at it to see if the reader is getting what you want him to. First when you read it over; then when it is typed you get another chance to improve it, and again in the proof. Writing it first in pencil gives you one-third more chance to improve it. That is .333 which is a damned good average for a hitter. It also keeps it fluid longer so you can better it easier.”

- Ernest Hemingway


“Story is choice under pressure.”

- James McCabe


Featured Article:

“Undeniable Proof That ‘The Walking Dead’ And ‘Toy Story’ Have The Exact Same Plot”



How Do I Use Story in a Keynote Address?

Robert McKee explains why, how, when, and where Story is best used in public speaking.  


Quotes of the Week:

“People don’t have 30 seconds to be interrupted, but they always have 30 minutes to hear a good story.”

- Jon Thomas


“Why was Solomon recognized as the wisest man in the world? Because he knew more stories (proverbs) than anyone else. Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories.”

- Alan Kay


“Story is more than a communications tool, more than a sales tool; it is a decision-making tool. With enough data, any executive can read a cross-section of the now; only a few can author the future through story.”

- Robert McKee 


Featured Video:

The Naked Brand (13-minute abridged version)

According to Bloomberg: “The Naked Brand takes aim at traditional advertising and its future. With their constant use of technology and social media, today’s consumers are smarter and more invested in what they buy and marketers are taking advantage of this newly empowered customer by creating transparent and positive stories about their companies and products.”

Visit the film’s official website:


How Does Myth Convey Truth?

Robert McKee uses a question about truth in PAN’S LABYRINTH to explore the relationship between truth, myth, and story, and to encourage writers to find their own truths and, even, their own myths.  


Quotes of the Week:

“First, we must ask, does it have to be a whale? While this is a rather delightful, if somewhat esoteric, plot device, we recommend an antagonist with a more popular visage among the younger readers. For instance, could not the Captain be struggling with a depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens?”

- Peter J. Bentley to Herman Melville


“In a world of lies and liars, an honest work of art is always an act of social responsibility.”

- Robert McKee


“A man is always a teller of tales, he lives surrounded by his stories and the stories of others, he sees everything that happens to him through them; and he tries to live his life as if he were telling a story.”

- Jean-Paul Sartre 


Featured Article:

“A Conversation with Gay Degani, Author of What Came Before”

Kathy Fish chats with Gay Degani about her new novel, What Came Before, and about heeding McKee’s advice on the craft of writing in STORY.