I would like to propose a "technical/practical" interpretation of Mckee's basic story elements. My interpretation is some sort of a set theoretical motivated, on which the construction of the next structure is based on the previous one. I believe that this interpretation of mine fits the construction of the concept of a "scene". So I will base my arguments entirely on Mckee's book [1].

In the first pages of chapter 2 Mckee's advises and motivates the reader, talking about the difference of the life story and the story told of a character (which is the main object of a story). Then he gives us an heuristic concept called structure, which is entirely related to the character's life-line itself, and a "tool" to express the view of life, again, of an character.

Then he introduces the concept of an event, which he divides into "trivial events" and "story events". Events then are elements to begin the setup of the flow of things in the story both for the world and character. Events which do not deals specifically with an character are called "trivial events"* and events which deals specifically with the character are called "story events".

Actually,the definition of "trivial event" are a interpretation of mine, but maybe Mckee have left it subtle in the first paragraph of chapter's 2 section Event (page 33):


"Event" means change. If the streets outside your window are dry, but after a nap you see they're wet, you assume an event has taken place,called rain. The world's changed from dry to wet. You cannot, however, build a film out of nothing but changes in weather -although there are those who have tried. Story events are meaningful, not trivial

Moreover, he introduces the concept of a scene. A scene is a construction made of events (trivial and story events). Furthermore he present the concept of a "Beat" which are those elements to set the exchange of behavior in action/reaction between characters[1] and/or the world. He also defines that Beats shape the turning of a scene.

Now, in the next section (page 38) he introduces the concept called "Sequence". In this section he wrote:


Beats build scenes. Scenes then build the next largest movement of story design, the Sequence

So, with all that above I would like to introduce a personal interpretation: it is correct to conclude that to build a scene we need three elements: Trivial events, story events and beats. Then, roughly speaking, the sum of all trivial events, story events and beats equals a large structure called scene.

I think that this interpretation is correct because trivial an story events shape the world and the character. Then, beats introduce and shape the exchange of emotions between the character and other characters and character and the world.

My question is, are my interpretation a valid one to the design of a scene?

I'm reading Mckee's book to write short tales and (perhaps!) a novel.

[1] [MCKEE.R. Story. itbooks. New York, 1997.]

  • Can you explain what you mean by "valid" here? If your goal is to use the interpretation to write stories, then surely the main thing is whether the interpretation helps you achieve that goal? – Gareth Rees Mar 18 '19 at 14:49
  • My question is simple: what I wrote are correct? Because if you take a close look, I've proposed non-standard concept which is the "trivial event". – M.N.Raia Mar 18 '19 at 15:53
  • @GarethRees Now, I agree with you that, if my interpretation are helpful to write something, then is certainly "valid". But for academical and theoretical literature, what I wrote is a valid point of view? – M.N.Raia Mar 18 '19 at 15:55

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