Writing Is About Conflict

Question: How is screenwriting different from other kinds of \r\nfiction writing?
 
Robert McKee: Well, the three great \r\nmedia, not only screenplay, but it’s also the theater, playwriting, and\r\n the prose.  I mean, those are the three primary.  And they get mixed a \r\nlot.  TV is a sort of combination of all three really, novel, theater, \r\nand film.  Graphic novels are another form that combines novels as a \r\nbasis, as the title suggests, with films, sort of, like cartoons.
 
And\r\n the principal differences between the three of them is the level of \r\nconflict that interests the writer of each of them.  And so, you have \r\nstories—they all tell a story—but stories involve characters in conflict\r\n with their social or physical world, in personal relationships with \r\nfriends, family, lovers, and an inner conflict within their own natures \r\nbetween themselves, their subconscious mind, their body, their emotions,\r\n and so forth.  The novelist tends to be interested in inner conflicts; \r\ncharacters in conflict with their own contradictory natures, their own \r\ncontradictory desires, their emotions.  Playwrights tend to be more \r\ninterested in personal relationships, of family, friends, lovers—because\r\n the theater is a form for dialogue, primarily.  And talk is the way in \r\nwhich people in personal relationships work those relationships out for \r\nbetter or worse, right?  And so the power and the beauty of the theater \r\nis personal conflicts.
 
The power and beauty in film is the \r\nextra personal conflicts of characters in conflict with their physical \r\nworld and their social world.  And so all three media can tell complex \r\nstories because you can work with inner conflict, certainly, in a film, \r\nyou can work with personal conflict naturally in a film, and in a novel,\r\n you can do all three, in a play you can do all three. But the strength \r\nof each of them tends to be at one of those three levels.  And so, if \r\nyou’re trying to make a career choice as to what kind of writer should I\r\n be, you really need to ask another question; which level of conflict in\r\n life really interests me the most?  And then you would presumably move \r\ninto that medium.  But I know a lot of writers whose real interest is \r\nnot at the level of conflict that the medium in which they are writing \r\nis strongest in.  And so a lot of independent filmmakers, for example, \r\nare really interested in inner conflict.  And so they should be writing \r\nnovels and not trying to make films of people staring into space, coming\r\n to big decisions in their lives, or whatever, it would bore people.
 
And\r\n so, which level of conflict interests the writer is a critical choice. \r\n And a lot of writers don’t understand their own instincts and they \r\nget... Stanislavski, the great acting teacher once said: “You have to \r\nfigure out whether you’re in love with the art in yourself, or yourself \r\nin the art.”  And too many people go into film, especially, or \r\ntelevision because they are in love with the idea of themselves in the \r\nart.  They want to be in the movies, they want to be in TV, or even in \r\nthe theater, or whatever.  When their natural talents and interests lie \r\nelsewhere.  So, that’s a critical choice as to which medium you choose \r\nbecause it has to pair up with what really interests you.

The main difference between screenwriting, playwriting and prose is the degree of conflict that interests the writer.

‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

What is the ‘self’? The 3 layers of your identity.

Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.

Videos
  • Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
  • Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
  • In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.
Keep reading Show less

Discovery of two giant radio galaxies hints at more to come

The newly discovered galaxies are 62x bigger than the Milky Way.

I. Heywood, University of Oxford / Rhodes University / South African Radio Astronomy Observatory / CC BY 4.0.
Surprising Science
  • Two recently discovered radio galaxies are among the largest objects in the cosmos.
  • The discovery implies that radio galaxies are more common than previously thought.
  • The discovery was made while creating a radio map of the sky with a small part of a new radio array.
Keep reading Show less

Massive 'Darth Vader' isopod found lurking in the Indian Ocean

The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.

SJADE 2018
Surprising Science
  • A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
  • It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
  • The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
Keep reading Show less

The secret life of maladaptive daydreaming

Daydreaming can be a pleasant pastime, but people who suffer from maladaptive daydreamers are trapped by their fantasies.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Mind & Brain
  • Maladaptive daydreamers can experience intricate, vivid daydreams for hours a day.
  • This addiction can result in disassociation from vital life tasks and relationships.
  • Psychologists, online communities, and social pipelines are spreading awareness and hope for many.
  • Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast