I have a future in writing thanks to this knowledgeable old guy

By Murissa Shalapata

I promised to write about my experience writing a book, and yet I have not completed the first 40 pages yet. I am constantly hounded by homework and multiple deadlines that are calling me all the way into December. However, I feel that I also have no excuse. If I don't fight to write I will not be a writer. How can I make excuses when mothers all over the world take the time out from their busy schedule and make time to write? I am a month away until I made a deal with myself to have at least 40 pages finished of my novel, which is the requirement to get into the novel class in my university program. Ironic, to become a novelist, I must first attempt to write a novel. After saying this you may be wondering why I have a photo of a distinguished elderly gentleman named Robert McKee above?
Thanks to this man hope is not all lost for this cliche overwhelmed university student. I have come up with a half decent idea for a novel, and this idea struck me conveniently in my fiction writing class. Confidence has been restored since I returned to school, thanks to both of my Creative Writing Professors. Fiction class is providing me with many seeds that have so far sprouted multiple NEW story and character ideas. Screenwriting class is (oddly enough) providing me with directions of how to direct, drive and structure a story. It's not that I didn't know how to accomplish these things before, being a 4th year student of writing. But now all these ideas are in front of me, slapping me across the face as if they have been mistreated lovers. Which of course they have been... until now! (as I said thanks to the old guy above)
There is a secret, a gift that I have been given, or rather 'required' to purchase, but none the less it has been revealed to me at the tender age of 22. All you novelists out there, published or not, this is for you. Shown to me by my wonderfully eclectic Professor of Screenwriting (who is also a published novelist, actor, producer and director of short films),
I now give it to you.
What do you think? Great... huh? Okay, so it says 'the principles of screenwriting' but story is what we read for, it is as old as time itself and as equally important. It will help your genre writing be less genre and more unique! (Paraphrasing a Professor's words sorry!)

This is different from a book about Screenwriting, it doesn't go into the formatting but rather the heart, the pulse, the reason for writing itself. He is more emotionally connected with his craft, through his writing of this book and that I recommend it.

I am sorry I have to be brief with this post (as I said I am a cliche overwhelmed university student) but this book is amazing and inspiring. I hope you can see that if you compare this post with my previous one in August. My future as a writer has been resurrected and I owe it all to McKee and my Professor who laid this seed in the palm of my hands.

Some quotes from the book:

"But if we were to pull the camera back on life, the grand overview might lead us to conclude that...'The mass of men lead their lives of quiet desperation,' that most people waste their time precious time and die with the feeling they've fallen short of their dreams. As honest as this painful insight may be, we cannot allow ourselves to believe it. Instead, we carry hope to the end." (p. 139)

"We stretch toward the 'bests' and 'worsts' because story - when it is art - is not about the middle ground of human experience." (p. 207)

"An old Hollywood expression goes: 'If the scene is about what the scene is about, you're in deep shit." (p. 253)

"A beautifully told story is a symphonic unity in which structure, setting, character, genre, and idea meld seamlessly. To find their harmony, the writer must study the elements of story as if they were instruments of an orchestra - first separately, then in concert." (p. 27)

photos from...


  1. It's like an early Christmas present! Thanks for the recommendation. I'm going to check into it.

  2. I have soooo wanted to go to one of Robert McKee's workshops! His book is wonderful. I hear he's extremely tough, and that the character based on McKee in Adaptations is pretty dead on.
    Thanks for posting, Murissa! Never give up!

  3. 'All these ideas are in front of me, slapping me across the face as if they have been mistreated lovers.'


  4. Murissa - I have wanted to read this book for a long time - you've just given me the kick in the pants I need! And like Julia I love your quote 'All these ideas are in front of me, slapping me across the face as if they have been mistreated lovers.'

    You are inspiring me - I remember being 22 - in university and feeling all of that excitement of discovering new ideas and possibilities. Thanks for helping me remember what that was like ;D Heck I'm not old but sometimes we do forget! LOL

  5. Sounds like a fabulous book, Murissa! Thanks for the great review. Wishing you good fortune and many incredible ideas brought to fruition. *grin*

    --Chiron O'Keefe
    The Write Soul: www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com


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