Category Archives: films

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting – Robert McKee

A book about screenwriting? Bit weird, eh? Well, I did a creative writing course earlier this year, and around the same time visited a friend. Said friend lent me this book with the words ‘this book is the best one ever on writing!’ or something like that. I was due to visit the same friend again recently, so thought I’d better actually read the book!


I might not have bothered, given that I have no intention of writing a screenplay (and it’s reeeeaaalllllllly long).  But, my friend has good form for lending me great stuff. So I read it, and I’m really glad I did.

Having never studied writing of any sort, I hadn’t ever really given much thought to the structure of stories. Now I’m analysing the shit out of everything I watch and read, in a good way! (i.e. not properly at all, but going ‘oooh I slightly understand this a little bit now’) I learnt so much from this book that I didn’t know before.


it’s also quite funny

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know a bit more about writing, even if you aren’t planning on writing a screenplay! It also has a big list of films mentioned in it, at the back of the book. Oh good, a list of 100s of films to watch. I do love a good list… so project ‘watch all the films from this book’ begins.

I still don’t want to write a screenplay, but I sure have a much bigger appreciation for the art of it, and I’m really glad I read Story.

Book Review: Beloved – Toni Morrison

This is a book that will break your heart. The story of Sethe, and those she knows, gradually unravels. She was born into slavery and manages to escape, though of course, her experiences never leave her. It’s about an how someone might rather kill her children than see them taken back into slavery.


This book is about the worst in people. About racism and about how vile people can do vile things to other humans in the name of power, profit and thinking they are superior. It’s also about love and what on earth that can mean when you’re whole life makes you feel used and wretched.

Heartbreaking, difficult, raw, but with touches of hopefulness and joy. I’m glad I read this.

Update 26/2/2017

Last night I watched The Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained. It is set in pre-civil war times in 1858, and covers themes of slavery in America. Beloved is set in the post civil war era (after 1865), but covers the same era as Django Unchained in the characters histories. It really helped bring Beloved to life to see a visualisation of the world of Beloved.


I have never studied American history and had no clear visual idea of what 1860s Kentucky would look like, for example. In Django you see the American west (I hadn’t even managed to put together this era in the same time frame as Beloved!), then they move to the South and the plantations. You see the slave collars described in Beloved and generally get an idea of what the landscape might have looked like.

Django has it’s problems, but is a good entertaining film. There are issues with the representation of most of the slaves though and I certainly didn’t watch it thinking it was telling me anything real about slave life.