(Craft) Developing Your Story Concept

Developing a story concept is key to the creation of your story.  A concept is not the same as an idea, although it can originate with an idea. A concept is an expanded idea, an idea that has been put on stage. In his outstanding book, Story Engineering, writing coach Larry Brooks explains it like this: “A concept . . . is something that asks a question. The answer to the question is your story” (p. 31). 

Suppose you want to write a story about a young woman who inherits a fortune from her deceased grandmother. That is an idea. But what if the young woman’s fiance’ arranges to steal her fortune and to have her killed in the process. That’s a concept. It takes your simple idea to a higher level, the level of specificity that invites conflict.

The best stories raise ideas to the concept level. The higher the concept, the stronger your story. Before you write your next story, ask yourself a what if? question about your idea. Your answer to your what if? question will be your concept. Once you have your concept, you can begin to add the other elements that make up a well-structured story.
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Copyright 2013 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.

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