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The Dustshoveller's Gazette: Telling Stories

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Telling Stories

Just back from a fascinating four days attending Bob McKee's Story Seminar.  Although intended to be useful for work, in terms of interpreting historical stories for the public, it was also tremendously helpful for my book.  McKee is a famous (perhaps, the most famous) Hollywood script doctor, and a polemicist for 'story' in all narrative, particularly film and novels.  However, it can equally easily apply to narrative non-fiction or exhibition curation.  The best bits for me, at this stage in the writing of the book, was to provide a technical underpinning relating to story structure, pace, scene/act construction and mystery/suspense writing.  With history you are constrained by facts of course, but the order in which you choose to reveal them, and how - in particular - you deal with exposition so it doesn't become clunky is one of the key skills required for any narrative non-fiction work.  Added to which, I got to spend Sunday doing six hours of analysis on the structure of Casablanca (my favourite film) to put into practice all I had learnt.  Bliss.

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