This is a re-post from 2013, but it feels relevant now:
My husband gave me my Christmas present early this year: a recording of Bruce McKee reading out loud an abridged version of his book, Story. We had a six-hour drive to Philadelphia, so we listened while my husband drove and I took feverish notes. The book is geared specifically for screenwriting, but the basic structural foundation for a screenplay differs little from that of a book or a play.
My husband wanted a deeper understanding of the elements of story because, as a lawyer, part of his job is listening to his client’s story, and then re-telling that story to a judge or jury.
I appreciated Mr. McKee’s analysis because I had just finished the first draft of a memoir—and a primer on story structure was just what I needed before I embarked on the hard work of revision.
We were reminded of how important story is to humans. It is the primary way we learn about and understand our world—something I only understood after we began homeschooling.
And it reminded me how closely tied story is to judgment. A rush to judgment allows no time, no consideration for the story behind an apparent fact. That is what prejudice is—a pre-judging—based on the assumption that one already knows the story. Judgment is the end of the story—the period that says this sentence is over. No more questions. No more curiosity.
I used to think that love was the antidote for prejudice, but now I am considering that curiosity would be a better cure. Curiosity is just a hunger to know the story. And to love something that you don’t really know—that has always seemed a bit patronizing to me, or maybe it is just too abstract. But to be curious, to want to know the story, to be interested—My kids might say “Nosy, Mom. Admit it: you are nosy.”– that to me is a great blessing to bestow on another.