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Big Think Interview With Robert McKee

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And so, it’s the same thing.  Writing is a performance, just like figure skating. And I can read it and have a sense, again, of confidence, of control, of precision, of one thing or another.  Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that by the end of the work, I’m going to be wowed.  But I can tell from the beginning of the work whether or not the writer has mastered their craft to a certain degree.  But that is one thing.  But there are lots of people with superb craftsmanship and nothing to say.  Steven Spielberg, brilliant craftsmanship, and nothing to say.  M. Night Shyamalan can really light a scene and really shoot, and he’s got a cartoon mind, comic book mind.  He’s got nothing to say.  And so, the mastery of craft is no guarantee overall, on the other hand, you may see people are still struggling with the craft, but they have passion, they have insight, and they really understand human behavior in relationships, or whatever, or they have some wonderful imaginative ideas about alternate worlds in whatever genre.


And so, noting the quality of the craft is no guarantee of excellence, but it’s an interesting thing that a lack of craftsmanship and a lack of insight into life seem to go hand-in-hand.  It’s no accident that bad writers also have nothing to say.  Okay?  Having something to say seems to inspire people.  All right?  But not necessarily.  So, it’s not an easy thing necessarily, and they can make mistakes and you can judge books erroneously by covers, but there are touchstones you can use along the way that give you a sense of quality, versus banality.


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