Book Review: MEMO From The Story Dept

MEMO From The Story Dept.
By Christopher Vogler & David McKenna
Michael Wiese Productions
Studio City, California
c. 2011

Christopher Vogler’s Writer’s Journey was a ground-breaking look at the story process for motion pictures. “MEMO’ his latest book authored along with Columbia Professor David McKenna focuses like a laser beam on the most important parts of story– structure and character development.  Beginning with theme and premise the discussion of writing the scene as a business deal is a revelation!  The chapter on contract with the audience takes us beyond “The Writer’s Journey” and explains how capturing an audience means “providing them with a cathartic metaphor for their lives which includes a taste of death and transformation”. Professor McKenna’s helpful chapters on reciprocal action and the want list likens writing dramatic scenes to a tennis game with four outcomes possible.  The book’s discussion of Log Line and Synopsis cuts to the heart of the story department which is the cornerstone of the Hollywood studio system. Vogler’s chapters on Russian Formalist theory by a man named Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp will change the way you look at storytelling with a lucid and entertaining discussion of the fairy tale approach to character.  McKenna’s eight chapters on University of Texas professor Francis Hodge’s Environmental Facts are a perfect segue to Vogler’s Twelve Stages of story and a tool you will want to apply to writing your first or next screenplay. It will as Chris Vogler comments help “crystallize your thinking”.  The concluding chapters provide invaluable advice for jump starting a career in screenwriting.  The “Five Year Plan For Aspiring Professional Screenwriters” and “What Studios Are Looking For In A Script” are worth the price of the book by themselves.  They are replete with checklists and advice that could change the trajectory of your career.  Need I say more?  Get yourself a copy of this book as soon as possible and begin your writer’s journey.

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