Robert McKee’s Ten Commandments

Robert McKee’s Story Structure Seminar is an intensive three-day course that concentrates on screen writing. Most of the course is very applicable to comics writing. The course is well worth the cost and comes recommended by many people I know who have been on it.

Most seminars are in the US but he sometimes teaches overseas. To find out if and when he’ll be in your area, contact:

Two Arts Inc
12021 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 823
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: (001) 213 312 1002.

McKee’s Ten Commandments of Writing are as follows:

ONE: Thou shalt not take the crisis/climax out of the protagonists’ hands. The anti-deus ex machina commandment. No surprises!

TWO: Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist. Nothing progresses in a story, except through conflict. And not just physical conflict.

THREE: Thou shalt not give exposition for strictly exposition’s sake. Dramatize it. Convert exposition to ammunition. Use it to turn the ending of a scene, to further the conflict.

FOUR: Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise. Don’t conceal anything important that the protagonist knows. Keep us in step with him/ her.We know what s/he knows.

FIVE: Thou shalt respect your audience. The anti-hack commandment. Not all readers know your character. Very important.

SIX: Thou shalt know your world as God knows this one.The pro- research commandment.

SEVEN: Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better. Don’t multiply the complications on one level. Use all three: Intra-Personal, Inter-Personal, Extra-Personal

EIGHT: Thou shalt seek the end of the line, the negation of the negation, taking characters to the farthest reaches and depth of conflict imaginable within the story’s own realm of probability.

NINE: Thou shalt not write on the nose. Put a sub text under every text.

TEN: Thou shalt rewrite.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting
by Robert McKee Methuen Publishing Ltd ISBN 0413715604

“Story” deciphers the guiding structural principles that animate every classical and award-winning film, ranging from Citizen Kane through to modern acclaimed works like The English Patient.

Categories: Creating Comics


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