Story – Robert McKee's Creative Storytelling Magazine Issue 005 – Drew Carey - Page 58

MCKEE INTERVIEWS STEVEN PRESSFIELD the end of Chapter 4 and the start of Chapter 5. There can be a lot of great empty space in there that really tells you a lot. You don’t even have to write the thing. I also break it into books. There might be four or five books in the course of a book, and that’s really about where the cut is— where the curtain comes down and then the next act starts. RM: That book would be an act climax. SP: Yeah. What you’ve left out can really work great when you go from the end of one to the start of another. One of the greatest cuts ever, I think, was in the Deer Hunter where they went from this whole long thing about the Russian wedding in Western Pennsylvania, and then it cut to choppers coming down in Vietnam. That space contained all the training these guys went through, all of what happened to them, and you didn’t miss it at all. It left you thinking, “Wow, that was a great cut.” I try to do things like that. RM: Make a big leap like that and then, by implication, the reader has got to fill it all in. So if a book in your mind is the equivalent of an act, the chapter then would be a sequence. SP: Yes. RM: And the subchapter within it would be a scene. SP: A scene, although in a novel, of course, you might have 30 scenes strung together in paragraph, paragraph, paragraph. RM: Yes, because language can expand and contract. SP: Right, and also you go off on internal plots and stuff like that, so it isn’t just like a movie where you have to have a scene. RM: But overall, would that be your sense of things? That if you’ve got a string of events in a scene, so called, are those really events, or are they exposition with a lot of action, or…? SP: I think they’re thematically bound together. There may be three little scenes, one long scene, one monologue or something like that, but there is kind of this through line going to it. A lot of times, it will boomerang around and come back to where it started from. I always like to end chapters with a little bit of a twist—a little bit of something that gives you momentum and gives the reader momentum and propels them into the next chapter. SP: No, I don’t. Although there probably are hooks that I’m not even aware of. I hope there’s momentum going paragraph after paragraph, but I don’t think that usually within a chapter. I’m not really trying to turn the story in any way—I’ll wait. I’ll wait until the end of a chapter. RM: Well, I remember that when I read Bagger Vance. It seemed to me that every chapter was a sequence that had scenes that were spilling one into the other, but they weren’t pausing to pay attention to the turning points within the scenes. SP: Yeah, I think so. RM: The chapter was solid. SP: Let me think about that until we talk about it. RM: It was the solitude, and every one of those chapters was just a standalone kind of thing. There are other novelists who break chapters into subchapters, and those units are really standalone. SP: Yeah, that’s true. Like scenes, yeah. RM: The common term is a hook. SP: Yeah. RM: You want to hook your chapters. Do you worry about hooks within the chapters? Story Magazine // Issue 005 RM: Yeah, but with language, you can compress so much and leap from one thing to the other. Great, that’s all my questions. SP: I have nothing left to say, Bob.