Literary Birthday – 30 January – Robert McKee

Happy Birthday, Robert McKee, born 30 January 1941.


  1. A fine work of art – music, dance, painting, story – has the power to silence the chatter in the mind and lift us to another place.
  2. Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.
  3. Great dialogue has transparency. Something is being said while something else is being felt.
  4. ‘Good story’ means something worth telling that the world wants to hear. Finding this is your lonely task…But the love of a good story, of terrific characters and a world driven by your passion, courage, and creative gifts is still not enough. Your goal must be a good story well told.
  5. Life is chaotic and meaningless, and you have to find your meaning. You must find the answer, you can’t just live. That’s the point of story: helping you find your meaning in life.
  6. To connect to people at the deepest level, you need stories.
  7. Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.
  8. Stories are how we remember; we tend to forget lists and bullet points.
  9. A culture cannot evolve without honest, powerful storytelling. When a society repeatedly experiences glossy, hollowed-out, pseudo-stories, it degenerates. We need true satires and tragedies, dramas and comedies that shine a clean light into the dingy corners of the human psyche and society.
  10. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Robert McKee is an author, lecturer, and story consultant. He is well-known for his 3-day “Story Seminars”, which teach writers the principles of storytelling. His one-day “Genre Seminars” teach writers the conventions of different styles of storytelling. He has dedicated the last 30 years to educating and mentoring screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, poets, documentary makers, producers, and directors internationally. He is the author of Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting.

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by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 29th January 2020