In film and TV, a concept can sell a project. The concept gets producers excited and can give you a major leg up in any screenwriter contest. There are a million different screenplays you can write that can have an audience. So while there’s no one particular subject matter that’s a guaranteed hit, there are dynamics within common concepts that can make a concept shine and sing. With that in mind, here are 3 ways to Make the Most of Your Concept.
Number 1 – Find a Hook for your Genre:
A good concept isn’t necessarily a new concept, but a common concept with a hook. What is you’re special x-factor that gives your idea style? Is it a unique character, setting, cross-genre? This x-factor is something that gives flair and flamboyance to an otherwise common genre piece. Speaking of genre– Once you know your genre, you know your audience. And knowing your audience means you can surprise them with your big hook – be it setting, tone, character, etc. Remember, having a genre isn’t the same as having a concept. The concept is that distinguishing factor that pushes the genre to new places or adds something novel. It’s that x-factor that can provide some unique flavor that provides that hook that contributes something fresh and new to the genre.
Number 2 – Infuse conflict into the concept:
Much like genre, conflict isn’t a replacement for a fully formed concept. A script that touches on “the struggle for equality” or “a man’s search for meaning” has a good backdrop for potential drama but it doesn’t say anything about the journey as it relates to conflict. That’s a big problem because narratives need conflict to work their magic. If your concept doesn’t include specifics about your character’s struggle to achieve a specific outcome then the question remains, “What am I actually going to be seeing in this movie?” And from a producer’s standpoint, I’m looking for that central conflict as the single factor behind the entertainment value I’m trying to sell to an audience. Without clear conflict present in your concept, you don’t have a guiding force for a narrative, you’ve only got a subject you want to talk about.
Number 3 – Know your movie comparisons
What other movies are similar to yours in tone, style, or concept? Now, I’m not saying make something similar, I think you should always be plugged into the culture and provide your audience with a unique hook as I mentioned earlier. But when it’s time to hit the marketplace, it’s important to know how your screenplay compares to prior successful films. Study the movies that are comparable to yours and come to understand why that concept attracted an audience in the first place. Understanding the similarities between your script and other profitable stories doesn’t make your work unoriginal, it just makes for an easy short hand for describing the unique combination of familiar elements. It’s important to realize that every story has been told before in some way. There are no completely original narratives, but when story elements are put together in novel ways, something new can emerge. Don’t be afraid to point to other movies to get your concept across, even if it’s just a comparison to tone or a particular scene.
With these three ideas under your belt you can create a concept that’ll boast just enough originality, entice with some juicy conflict, and confirm the potential success of your work.
If you’d like to get on track to getting your concept on the page and you want to learn the professional techniques to creating a marketable screenplay and making movies, consider joining the script development masterclass. This is the most comprehensive course for screenwriters. It’ll fix any writer’s block and teach you how to streamline your story concept and get your script and career on the fast track to success.