It’s Free Tip Sunday!

You already know I’ve written an ebook called “101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips for Novelists and Screenwriters.”  And you know it’s for sale right here, too.

This is the fifth of those tips that I’ve posted.  My hope is that you’ll like what you see, get your whistle wetted, and want to see the other 96 by buying the book. 

Which you can do right HERE.

Or, if you wait until, say, 2014, I’ll have all 101 posted as tempting tid-bits aiming for the same outcome.


53.    Understand the difference between an idea, a  concept, a premise, and a story.

This is a tough one, because sometimes the people you are talking to – agents, publishers, other writers and workshop leaders – don’t care about the differences.  Sometimes they don’t even understand them.

But you should.

To make it more complicated, these terms sometimes actually can refer to the same thing: sometimes an idea is a concept, sometimes a concept is a premise.  It all depends on how it’s presented.

You need to master the differences, because each term contributes something unique to the creative identity of the underlying story.

An idea is the starting point of a story.  It requires nothing other than a germ of compulsion that leads somewhere.  Idea: a story about the Titanic.  Idea: wedding receptions are chaos.  Idea: a story about religious mythology.

A concept adds possibility to the idea: what if you could raise the Titanic from the bottom of the sea? What if two guys crashed weddings for the food and the girls?  What if Jesus didn’t die on the cross after all and married Mary Magdalene, and while we’re at it let’s add about twelve other compelling what ifs and break every record known to publishing?

See the difference?  A concept is an extension of an idea.

A premise adds character to concept, and uses a different format.

–  A story about an undersea explorer asked to help raise the Titanic from the ocean and finds himself the pawn in a battle for corporate power and riches.

–   A story about two guys who crash a wedding but get more than they bargain for when one of them falls for the blushing bride.

–   A story about a symbologist called in to decipher clues at the scene of a priest’s murder and finds himself running for his life as ancient factions from the Catholic Church scramble to cover up a two-millennia old conspiracy.

I don’t need to ask if you see the differences now, they are huge.

It may not help you sell your work, but it will clarify the steps required to evolve your creative baby from an idea to a concept to a premise, and from there to a featured spot on the New Release rack at Borders.

Order your ebook copy of “101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips for Novelists and Screenwriters” here.

Or, read more about it HERE.

Did I say please?  There you go.


Filed under Write better (tips and techniques)

4 Responses to It’s Free Tip Sunday!

  1. Pingback: 43 Most Inspiring Writing Advice Posts of 2009

  2. Pingback: Day 1: The Premise | Conrad, Writer

  3. David Stacey

    Much clearer here Larry. I needed to relearn and remind myself. I have your book Story Engineering Larry, although I’m anal about wanting information delivered as I need it, your book is one of the best books to have for any developing writer.

  4. Pingback: 43 Most Inspiring Writing Advice Posts of 2009 | Jennifer Blanchard