Defining “Concept”

I’ve begun another series, based on a book by Larry Brooks called Story Engineering. I’m not covering everything in the book, just the stuff I find interesting enough to pass along. In my last post, I offered the Six Core Competencies Mr. Brooks says are necessary for great stories. Now I’ll go in-depth on those competencies. Today’s competency is Concept.

Mr. Brooks begins by stating that defining “concept” is tough. It’s not quite an idea or a premise. It’s not theme. It’s not some combination of those three words. He offers this example: “An idea would be to write a story about raising the Titanic from the bottom of the sea… A concept would be to suggest that there are secrets still hidden there that certain forces would kill to keep concealed. A premise would be to create an archetypal hero who is hired to do this job and in doing so saves his country from potential attack.” 

Idea, concept, premise… different yet similar. Here’s the definition Mr. Brooks finally settles on: “A concept is an idea that has been evolved to the point where a story becomes possible. A concept becomes a platform, a stage, upon which a story may unfold.”

A concept asks a question. That answer is your story.

Was that helpful? Maybe my next post will iron some of this out.


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