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  • The Idea

  • The Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction
  • Written by: Erik Bork
  • Narrated by: Erik Bork
  • Length: 3 hrs and 48 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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The Idea

Written by: Erik Bork
Narrated by: Erik Bork
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Publisher's Summary

Most screenwriting books tend to focus on story structure, scene writing, navigating the business, and other parts of the craft that come after the initial choice of the central concept for a story. Multiple Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning writer/producer Erik Bork (HBO’s Band of Brothers) takes a different approach. His experience in the industry and as a screenwriting professor and coach have led him to recognize that it's the selection of the initial idea that is the most important part of the process - with the most impact on the project's chance of success. And as Mr. Bork knows from experience, this choice takes a lot more understanding and work to get "right" than it might seem.

Most screenwriters and fiction writers have difficulty getting their work read and accepted by agents, editors, and producers, mainly because their idea for a story presented in a query or pitch doesn't excite these "gatekeepers" like it would need to, for them to want to engage. And when they do read the whole story, their core reasons for "passing" are usually also about the basic idea (although lack of professional-level execution matters, too). But writers are usually in the dark about this, not realizing that the project they spent months or years on had fundamental flaws on a concept level, in the eyes of the people they most hoped to impress with it.

But even the best fiction writing books and screenwriting experts tend to move quickly past the crucial step of choosing a viable idea, to get to the specific plotting and composition of it, because there is so much to master in those later parts of the process - which feel a lot more like "writing" than developing and mulling over potential story concepts.

Professionals, though, tend to understand the primacy of "the idea", and learn that there are certain key elements in story or series premises that really work, and which are worth investing time and energy in. And that's what The Idea focuses on - laying out what those specific elements are, and how to master them.

While its concepts originate from the author's screenwriting experiences, they apply equally to commercial fiction writing, playwriting, and other forms of "story" - because the focus is on what makes an underlying concept compelling enough to appeal to a substantial audience or readership.

The "Seven Elements of a Viable Story" in The Idea form an acronym for the word PROBLEM, since every story is really about one, at its core.

Each chapter focuses on one of these seven deceptively simple-looking aspects of a strong story, which are anything but easy to master. Mr. Bork highlights his own struggles as a writer, and his arrival at an understanding of how each of these elements works -- and how to know if one's idea really succeeds at each of them. A special section devoted to television writing (and its unique attributes) ends each chapter.

Whatever your education and background in writing or story, this book and its unique focus contributes foundationally useful information not covered elsewhere - which may be the missing piece that leads to greater results, both on the page and in the marketplace.

©2018 Erik Bork (P)2019 Erik Bork

What listeners say about The Idea

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Top notch.

I have purchased many books on writing and self publishing over the years but few of them have impressed me enough to warrant my taking time to write a review. This one blew my mind.

While the book is aimed initially at screenwriters, I found the advice he gives to be easily transferable to novel writing. In fact writers of any genre, including nonfiction would do themselves a favour by reading this book.

Eric lists for us, Seven Elements of a Viable Story for Screen, Stage or Fiction, then goes into great detail describing each one. I like that he gives examples of well known works to illustrate his point. I originally bought this book in Audible format but think I will need to own this one in print for my library.

For anyone who has wondered why it’s so hard to get a script or manuscript accepted, or get viewers or readers, this book will be an eye-opener.

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Very helpful

Erik Bork’s book has helped me progress the way I approach my writing. It’s not full of fluff like a lot of other how-to books. It’s a quick and concise read/listen that has lots of helpful suggestions on how to find and develop your movie or book idea. He is also helpful in private consultation with reasonable pricing.

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An Excellent Tool for a Writer's Arsenal

This relatively compact book (4 hours) attacks a very specific challenge for the writer: the idea around which a script is constructed. (This has always been my weak suit.) Highly recommended for the discipline it encourages as you begin to pull together various notes and fragments, and slowly begin to assemble and refine them into The Idea.

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Small but Mighty

This book contains a lot of valuable information that is organized very well. Because the author has no fluff, it's not a huge time suck - which also makes it good if you want a second or third listen. There is certainly enough great information here to warrant more than one listen. Highly recommend!

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