- Complaining about Shows You Don't Watch: A common misconception is that Robert McKee is heavy on "Hollywood-style tactics," as seen in Adaptation, but the opening chapter alone espouses timeless storytelling principles over "recipes to reheat Hollywood's leftovers," and goes further into the concept of "Hollywood Films" vs. "Art Films" shortly after.
- Funny Moments: Many of the examples McKee provides, ranging from just plain funny to Stylistic Suck.
- The "Personal Story" and "Guaranteed Commercial Success" synopses, detailing where most common stories go wrong. In the former, an Anti-Sue Pinball Protagonist has trouble at work, home, and with her lover, and then suddenly gets a promotion, a new roommate, and a new lover 2/3rds through the film, only to break up with him for a "tearful climax." In the latter, a software salesman comes into possession of "the-thing-that-will-end-civilization-as-we-know-it-today" concealed in a ballpoint pen, then gets caught in between a cast of characters with double and triple identities, all betraying eachother to kill the man.
- From the audiobook, when discussing Mysterynote , Suspensenote , and Dramatic Irony note , McKee gives the an example of a climax where a woman is looking for a killer in a hallway full of doors, only for the killer to come out of the ceiling. What makes the audiobook version particularly funny is McKee shouts, "Surpiiise!"
- The discussion on Plot Holes in regards to The Terminator.
''THE TERMINATOR doesn't have a hole - it's built over an abyss. [...] [Conner sends back Reese] knowing that indeed Reese will not only save his mother, but get her pregnant, and therefore his lieutenant is his father. What?
- Naturally, the section on comedy is a self demonstrating example.
- In his section on drafting, he talks about writers who write from the outside in, grasping for scenes in search of story, and then showing them off to friends to test how good it is, and they say, to wit, "I liked a few of the scenes, but there's something about the ending I don't like... and the middle... and the beginning."
- Heartwarming Moments: Even in a writing guide like this, there are a few...
- In his discussion on characters, and why it is important to ask, "If I were this character, what would I do?," the answer is often shared across people because we all share the same humanity, and that when we look at all of the characters from all of the great writers and realize they all came from the same humanity, it is astounding.
- The conclusion, where he reassures writers that they will not lose their talent now that they know the craft more intricately, telling the tale of the Centipede's Dilemma, but ending with the centipede getting back up and able to move better than before.
- A meta-Heartwarming Moment: While Charlie Kaufman was writing Adaptation, McKee's lawyers wanted to give Kaufman a cease and desist order for using his material and his image in the film. What did McKee do in response? He asked Kaufman to give him a redeeming scene, let him pick the actor, and ensure it has a great ending, and he'll be fine. Kaufman accepted, resulting in the film's memorable finale and Brian Cox's spectacular performance as McKee, who according to McKee's son "nailed him."