OK so I confess I am stuck...

Another vote for McKee.

And another voice in agreement that much of what is written in this genre (How to Write Fiction) is windy if not worthless. Stick, as I think Antony previously said, to successful practitioners like King…

… Except for McKee and maybe a handful of others:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, already mentioned;
Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain ( a strong recommendation);
How Novels Work, by John Mullan, a completely different and rather wonderful examination of how good writing succeeds.

I third McKee’s STORY. I confess I haven’t finished the Vogler yet, just reading it now, so I will withhold judgement. I did find some of the basic principles interesting, though. McKee makes reference to the Hero’s journey, too, if I recall.

Yeah, as I say, there’s nothing wrong with THE HERO’S JOURNEY, albeit it’s a little dated now. It’s the way Vogler manages to spend 300 pages saying nothing at all that made me angry :slight_smile:

I can’t even remember who started this line of questioning, now, but to whomever is interested: you will hear STORY recommended, and derided, many times. The thing to remember is that it’s NOT a “magic formula” book, whatever its critics say. McKee is very clear in his desire for the writer to do what feels right, and hang the formula (I’ve attended one of his shorter lectures, and he says the same in person). What he’s done with STORY is examine the commonalities between successful movies, not produce a formula.

Of course, all that said, take it with a pinch of salt, as you would any book of advice. (McKee’s titles for elements, in particular, are laughable - “the Negation of the Negation”?!)