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All writers should read Robert McKee

“You should read Story by Robert McKee,” Nico said.

This was 2010. Nico had agreed to produce the screenplay version of my first novel, Stuck Outside of Phoenix -- a screenplay I hadn’t started yet -- and he was no doubt concerned about what I might hand over. I’d never written a screenplay, but with more than a decade of daily writing under my belt, I felt I had what it took to crank out a feature-length version of my own novel. Still, I bought a copy of Story as insurance. It lingered in a pile of books for a few months, and after the first draft of the screenplay was finished, I sold it back.

Flash forward to the summer of 2012. The movie version of Stuck Outside of Phoenix is in the can, and I’m officially a big shot. I’ve taken to wearing sunglasses at night, and I’m looking into changing my name to Hollywood. The writing of Stuck the screenplay had come so easily I’d already knocked out a draft of the screenplay of my second novel, Ghost Notes. I passed this on to a friend, Los Angeles film editor Josh, and I waited impatiently for his comments, wondering if he was aware of all the money we were losing by not taking this thing straight into production.

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