Wednesday, May 30, 2012

12-Step Screenwriting: Week One - Idea, Concept and Story

I'm pleased to introduce the first regular episode of the Bitter Script Reader YouTube series!

This is the first chapter of a 12-part series designed to guide and motivate a writer to complete a screenplay within three months.  Recognizing that I had an opportunity to reach a new audience via YouTube, I decided to start with the basics.

This week's video covers the difference between idea, concept and story.  You wouldn't believe how those simple distinctions seem to elude many new writers.  You shouldn't start writing a script until you can say that what you're working on is a story.

As you can see, this is back-to-basics information, but hopefully some of you will take up the challenge of completing a screenplay alongside the weekly lessons in this series.  I've done my best to minimize the jargon here.  So later on we'll be talking things like Act Breaks and Climaxes, but I won't ask you to commit things like "Fun & Games" to memory.

I also won't pull the Writers Boot Camp stunt of introducing a lot of vocabulary that isn't common to the business.  The good news is that since I'm not charging for any of this, I don't have to go to ridiculous lengths to make it seem like the basics of screenwriting can only be understood by unlocking a Sphinx-like riddle.

As always, it really helps me out to see some engagement with these videos, so please click through to the YouTube page, Subscribe and leave a few comments there.  Feel free to embed these on your blogs, and if you find the tips useful, tweet about them or put the videos on your Facebook page.

I hope that in three months time, a lot of you will be reporting back with completed screenplays.


  1. Why, why, why? Why are you teaching more people to get into this already overflowing pool?

    Shouldn't you start off with a video of reasons why not to write?

  2. I say keep going! What we need is more diversity, not just in personnel, but in world views and ideas. The best way to get it is to disseminate the information, far and wide. Those who can learn, will learn. Those who cannot will be smacked down.

  3. I believe the part of the pool that has the crystal clear water is not at all deep. The other end is filled to the brim with fetid waste sewage. What we need is a filter. If this helps clean out the traps then I'm all for it.

  4. I liked it. Short but informative, to the point, and strong examples of each subject.

    Looking forward to the next 11.

  5. I found this by accident but I will definitely be back! I like that he gave examples rather than just definitions. We don't all learn just by reading; seeing a lesson in action helps me a lot!

  6. I'm curious about what you think should be written in one's logline: the concept or the story?

    I've read so much conflicting advice regarding what to put in your logline (and seen both -- a slick, mean, six-word concept and two long sentences that describe the story/essence of the screenplay).

    Thanks for all your help!