#screenwriting #film #screenplay
“Your premise dictates the ideal shape of your story.
What is “premise”? Everybody defines it differently, and it’s pretty confusing. So let’s cut through the fog:
The premise is the smallest packet of information that suggests a story. The premise is the “story idea” from which a story can be built.
The premise has to at least be two nouns. Pixar seems to go into each new project with just a single noun. To complete the sentence “Let’s do a movie about…” they supply a noun: “toys”, “superheroes”, “the sea”.
These are not story ideas. There is no story idea there. There’s no premise.
To generate a premise, something in the noun’s world must be doing something. “A new toy challenges the established order.” “A superhero family fights evil.” “A fish searches for his missing offspring.”
Once you have a person place or thing in a world doing something, you have a story idea. There’s your premise. It’s basically a sentence. Subject and predicate. Subject-verb-object. Actor acts upon object.
How do you get a screenplay out of this? It’s easy. Idea = Ideal. The premise dictates the ideal shape of the story. How?
By abstracting the components of the premise.
For any given premise, there is a certain ideal shape to the story that results. The ideal may be endlessly elaborated, given the many configurations of characters, time periods and story worlds in which a given plot may rest — but it will be essentially the same ideal for any……”