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Creating High Concept Screenplay Ideas

At a Glance

  • An Online, Instructor-Led or On Demand Course designed to get students from inspiration to full plot in 4 weeks
  • Understand the elements of a strong story for a screenplay
  • Provide tools for screenwriters to come back to again and again for compelling stories

Writers—if they’re paying attention—come across a dozen potential story ideas every day, from snippets of overheard conversation, or an unusual headline, or a single image or gesture glimpsed out of the corner of the eye that starts the mind wandering. The real question is, How do we recognize those ideas that have the potential to be something more than a pleasant momentary distraction…that contain enough intrinsic intrigue, possibility, and tension to build a full story and even a full world around them, and which offer the writer ways of finding new dimensions of story and character throughout a long writing process? This course will examine all of the above, from paying attention to—and seeking out—those initial sparks of inspiration which might launch a screenplay to finding ways not just of sustaining the story but building its potential, forward momentum, and meaning.

In lectures, supplemental readings, and written assignments and exercises, we’ll consider how a seemingly simple idea builds from abstract premise to a full plot, how considering genre tropes and types help build the world and the structure of the story, the degree to which the writer ought to push back against these expectations, how combining genres adds depth to character and plot, and more. We’ll also reference—and occasionally take cues from—such seemingly disparate films as Casablanca, Inception, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars, Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Wizard of Oz, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harry Potter, My Cousin Vinny, and Carrie, among others.

This workshop is offered in two formats. The budget-friendly On Demand option (which is for sale here) gives you the option to work on the same great workshop materials as the Online option, only without instructor feedback. You'll immediately receive our comprehensive course in PDF format, which provides instructions and exercises on specific skills you will need to succeed as a screenwriter. You can purchase the On Demand option here. To get the Online option with instructor feedback and online discussions with other students, please click here.


In this online writing course you will learn
  • How to cultivate story ideas…and where to seek them out
  • How to move from initial concept to story
  • How to define plot, story structure, and character through primary and secondary genres
  • How internal and external motivations turn characters into full people
  • The importance of playing with and against expectation of genre and trope
  • How a solid basic premise suggests story arc, structure, and stakes

Course Outline

Session One: Inspiration and Developing Ideas
  • Introduction to the course
  • Catching glimpses & What If
  • What If? – The Home Game
  • Conflict & Protagonist
Session Two: Searching Out Inspiration
  • Extra, Extra—Newspaper Headlines
  • The Artistic Influence
  • Creative Writing Prompts
  • Write What You Know?
Session Three: Combining Genres
  • Primary genre and premise/rules of the world
  • Secondary genre and how it informs plot/protagonist
  • Playing with and against expectation
  • Distrusting tropes
Session Four: From Idea to Full Story
  • Character: People, Not Plot Functions
  • Internal and external motivation
  • Structure and Arc
  • Putting It All Together

Product Details

  • Publication date: 09/20/2013
  • Return policy: This item is not eligible for return.

Return Policy

Your satisfaction is our top priority. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, please return the item(s) for an exchange or refund within 30 days from the purchase date, unless otherwise noted on the product page.

Ship the item(s) to The Writers Store via a traceable and insured method. You will be responsible for return shipping fees.

Please include a completed Return Form with your shipment. Refunds take up to one week to process once we have received the item(s).

Software returns must be deactivated and uninstalled from your computer before a refund may be issued. Please contact the software manufacturer if you need assistance uninstalling or deactivating your software.

The following items are not returnable: Hollywood Creative Directories, DVDs (opened), and Gift Certificates.

$99.99