These are notes from the book "Story" by Robert McKee. McKee puts into words what I have intuitively felt but could not easily express, about the power and meaning of story. Thank you Robert McKee!


Why stories?

We seek an answer to the ageless question: How should a person live their life?
The answer eludes us, it's confusing.
We've sought the answer from the four wisdoms - philosophy, science, religion, art.
These days, the first three are not always easy or always sensible for people to use.
We turn to the source we believe in: the art of story. Story is now humanity's prime source of inspiration.
Story seeks to order chaos, to gain insight into life.
There is a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living. "Fiction gives life its form."
Story isn't a flight from reality - it's a vehicle that carries us on our search for reality, our best effort to make sense out of the anarchy of existence.
The source of all art is the human psyche's need for the resolution of stress and discord through beauty and harmony, for the use of creativity to revive a life deadened by routine, a link to reality through our instinctive feel for the truth.
Life on its own, without art to shape it, leaves you in confusion and chaos - because when experiencing life, one's thinking and emotion rarely coordinate. We may react emotionally to an event, but only get a chance to think about it later.
But stories well told give you a meaningful emotional experience, the very thing you cannot get from life.
In life, experiences become meaningful after they happen, with reflection in time.
In art, experience are meaningful now, at the instant they happen.
Story triumphs in the marriage of the rational with the irrational.
Story is an opportunity to live lives beyond our own, to test and stretch our humanity - vicarious experience.


Passions of the story creator

The love of story: the belief that your vision can be expressed only through story, that characters can be more "real" than people, that the fictional world is more profound than the concrete.
Love of the dramatic: fascination with the sudden surprises and revelations that bring sea-changes in life.
Love of truth: lies cripple the artist. Every truth in life must be questioned down to one's own secret motives.
Love of humanity: a willingness to empathize with suffering souls, to see the world through their eyes.
Love of duality: a feel for life's hidden contradictions; a suspicion that things are not what they seem.


The contemporary erosion of values

One of the causes for the contemporary decline of story runs very deep.
Values, the plus/minus charges of life, are at the soul of story. Story is shaped around values - what's worth living for, dying for, foolish, truthful…
Recently society has taken on a new moral and ethical cynicism, relativism, subjectivism - a great confusion of values. Family disintegration, sexual antagonism.
So who now understands love? And if you do, how do you express it to an ever-more skeptical audience?