Another very full day, and my head is buzzing.
The group seems to be relaxing a little more in the seminars; there’s more response to Mr. McKee’s jokes and questions, a little more conversation among attendees at the breaks, and just generally a looser feeling.
The subject matter is tightening up, though, getting into more specifics of the craft of building stories. Three-act structure, building mystery and suspense and dramatic irony, the principle of antagonism, handling exposition, stuff like that.
I don’t know how the man does it. My energy is flagging by the end of the day, and all I’m doing is sitting, listening, and taking notes*. He’s lecturing the entire time I’m sitting in the seats, and he’s still lively and energetic and interesting at the end of the day. A testimony to his stamina and the passion he has for the subject**.
The passion’s contagious. I’ve got a number of new ideas for my writing projects from the seminar, and I’m so eager to use them that I spent last evening, and plan to spend this evening, putting some of what I’ve learned into practice.
A friend of mine once told me that he tries to pick the moment in a seminar or session when he’s got his money’s worth. Sometimes it comes early, sometimes it comes late, and sometimes it doesn’t come at all. It’s a way to evaluate, on the fly, how much value the seminar has for you.
My moment came today, during the afternoon, when it finally clicked for me why the novel and a half that I’ve written so far weren’t working the way I wanted them to. I know how to fix it, too. I’m just not sure it’s worth the time to go back to that when I have a couple new ideas that I could start fresh with, and avoid those mistakes.
Anyway, one day to go, and half of that is going to be watching Casablanca, which I’m really looking forward to. Seeing all the pieces laid out on the workbench is no substitute for seeing how it all fits together in a working movie.
*Not as many notes as I had feared; I’ve got the book, and that covers a bunch of stuff. And a lot of the lecture is paraphrasing basic principles to make sure the point sinks home. And there are a lot of examples to illuminate the principles, and stories to keep everyone’s interest up.Â
**I’ve used the word “passion” a coupe of times talking about Robert Mckee. Maybe it sounds melodramatic, but that’s one of is defining characteristics, at least during the seminar.