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The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction

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4.43  ·  Rating details ·  135 ratings  ·  23 reviews
THE IDEA is a manual for conquering the most important part of the writing process -- the first part. Most writers (and most screenwriting books) rush too quickly through choosing a story idea, to get to the process of outlining and writing it. And it's the biggest reason most projects don't move forward in the marketplace: producers and editors are underwhelmed by the ...more
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published September 3rd 2018
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K.J. Dell'Antonia
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic and easy to absorb description of how the sausage--that is, the story--gets made, from the very beginning (get your who, your why now and your why is this so hard straight from Day One) through character building and things like believability and originality. It's geared towards screenwriters but is every bit as useful in creating a scaffolding on which to build a novel. A new favorite for me.
Matt
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Touts the use of the P.R.O.B.L.E.M. method of setting up a screenplay. Can be useful in novel writing as well. A well thought out and written book. I'll keep it close by when outlining my next story. Many useful insights.
Dee Chilton
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read many writing and screenwriting books and have always got something from each one of them. This one goes on my 'top books I wish I'd been able to read when I started' list. Clearly written and easy to understand, it will save you 'wasting' time on a 'bad' idea that won't work before you even write it, and aid identification of how to make ideas work better... with the caveat that no writing is ever wasted as a writer develops their 'voice' and craft skills and should always write what ...more
CC
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's supposed to offer wisdom on how to get a big idea for your script, but mostly it just tells you what a good idea possesses -- though even there, the examples listed are more about the execution (Bridesmaids, Jaws) than the idea.

I agree that scripts suffer if they start too late or when there isn’t enough conflict, or if they have a premise whose end-goal isn’t large or meaningful enough – but implying that creation can be reduced to a simple check-list is deceitful; people don’t write in
...more
Katarina H
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an excellent short craft book! Exactly what I needed to hear!
Stephen
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book hit me hard, right in my chest, because so much good advice appears here. I took plenty of notes from it. The advice is extremely well organized and clearly explained. The book is so concise that it can be read and digested easily. Before you start writing and before you study screenwriting technique, start with a great idea and this book called “The Idea.” You have my word that this book will save you time and frustration.
Halordain
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The craft aspects of the book were applicable. Three particularly memorable, applicable parts stood out to me as clear-cut positives

1.) The approach the author takes in the introduction, describing why and where it's difficult breaking through, the importance of the logline, and the general challenge in the industry of getting noticed. He answers questions on a lot of writers' minds, and he sets out to solve the PROBLEM -- an acronym for key elements to a successful story -- in the chapters that
...more
Marsha
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Erik Bork’s book “The Idea: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction” takes a hard look at the original idea and how to make sure it holds until the end of the story.
Using the acronym PROBLEM, he gives a writer a checklist on developing a writing project. How to make sure your idea is the right one.
Punishing the protagonist – is the idea strong enough to last through the entire story.
Relatable – can the audience relate to the story and cheer for the protagonist?
Original
...more
Paul Kriebel
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pragmatic and Direct

With a sort of “been there, done that” attitude that is is not dogmatic, but empathetic and sympathetic for the aspiring writer, the book cuts to the heart of what is needed to make something that “may” work. Obviously the checklists provided in the book are not foolproof; that’s why you should read the book: it walks you through some of the pitfalls surrounding the checklist items. (Note: my initial interest in the book was simply to get to the checklists.) But the voice
...more
Emma Cyrus
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although Bork is a screenwriter, his book provides solid guidance for novelists as well. His premise is that a well-articulated “idea” must grab the attention of industry gatekeepers in synopsis form.
While much of this content is available in other forms spread across writing courses, Bork’s accessible style and clarity of language, focused as it is on ‘before you start writing,’ makes it an excellent and economical starting point for any project. Further, he encourages writers to see that
...more
S.B. Lerner
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am thinking of turning one of my novels into a screenplay for a TV limited series, and this book has been helpful. It made me realize that my novel is just a starting point, but the tools of screenplays are so different than those of novels, that the story will inevitably change. I am now thinking more about how to make it more "high concept". As I read through the book, I kept getting ideas (good title for the book!). He writes clearly and it's well organized.
Rand McGreal
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Essential Skill

All writing begins with an idea. Erik Bork makes that the subject of his focused informative book. No writing will succeed unless the author selects the right idea. Erik Bork takes you through the process of making that selection. This book is great. Use it as the starting point of your writing journey or as a checklist, but use it.
N.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book written by a very accomplished screenwriter.

The concepts discussed may seem simple, but they are the basics of telling a compelling story, regardless of the medium you choose (books, film, theater, etc.)

Highly recommended.
Laura McNeill
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!

Excellent reading for the beginning or experienced writer. “The idea” of a screenplay or story should be finessed, polished, and vetted before beginning a first draft. Smart, time-saving advice for any writer serious about the craft.
Chris French
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading for anyone who wants to write a story.
I've read it twice, and taken notes, and refer to it anytime I start a new story.
It's amazing to have a whole book devoted to this one piece of the puzzle.
Pjs_books Sather
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read a lot of writing books by now. And while most of them have something to offer, The Idea joins the much shorter list of writing books that are worth digesting fully. Short, clear, and helpful. This book lays out the elements that make a story appealing to audiences.
Giovanni Piazza
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Useful tips but quite simplistic in expressions. 15% overpriced.
Joe Stallone
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Concise and informative, this book clearly illustrates the important of story premise. Helped me to to rethink how to begin creating a good story at a conceptual level.
Shane
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a good read to demystify pitching and premises and loglines. There's lots of tidbits in here that can keep a writer grounded as they're wracking their brain to develop a new idea.
Caitlin
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading before any new writing project! Incredibly helpful when trying to find workable ideas.
Jaimee Walls
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough amazing things about this book. I am a better writer just for having read it.
Jesús Molina
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I can't believe I spent so much time without having read this marvelous book, this is a must have for every aspiring writer. I loved it
Lucy Hay
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic, useful book with plenty of illuminating exercises to help writers road-test their ideas. Bork's P-R-O-B-L-E-M mnemonic is right on the money and is ideal to help writers get to the nitty gritty of their concepts. As a script editor I have been waiting years to find to a book of this calibre, so I might recommend it to my Bang2writers. I will be recommending the hell out of this one to them!
Oliver B Burkett
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May 02, 2019
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Oct 23, 2019
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Erik Bork won two Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for his work as a writer-producer on the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon, for executive producer Tom Hanks (and Steven Spielberg, on Band of Brothers). Erik has sold original series pitches to the broadcast networks, worked on the writing staff of primetime drama series, and written feature screenplays for ...more
“The legendary Broadway writer/producer/performer George M. Cohan is supposed to have once said: “In the first act, you get your main character up a tree. In the second act, you throw rocks at them. In the third act, you get them down.” The nature of what that tree is, and what those rocks are, is key. You could even say that “story = main character + tree + rocks.” 0 likes
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