McKee, Robert. Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting. New York: Regan Books, 1997. Print.
While designed for film and the aspiring screenwriter, McKee maintains a sage-like tone towards story craft that all writers can glean from. The subtitle provides the outline of the book: substance, structure, style and principles. McKee is stark in his analysis of what makes great story, so much that he could be accused of being formulaic. The book provides a list of principles, each centered in bold font as they appear throughout the text. These range from “Story is about principles, not rules”, to “Story is about eternal, universal forms, not formulas”, to “The choice between good and evil or between right and wrong is no choice at all.” If we are filling King’s metaphorical toolbox, McKee is readily handing out those tools. The approach towards writing here isn’t the high-level calling that others have made writing to be. Writing is the work of building just like any other construction effort. According to McKee, a story can be built in the way a bridge, a skyscraper, or a jumbo jet: the frame first, carefully blueprinted, and added to with style and aesthetics. The greatest challenge for a writer is learning to think first and then, to think very carefully and clearly about what we are writing.