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.” 
200px-titanic_book

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.

-Sonja
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