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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

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one of the best books on writing I've read

I will be listening again. great for any mew or wanna be storytellers. thanks for making it audio available!

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Thanks Erik

I’d recommend this book to both amateur and seasoned writers. Having sat through countless go nowhere movies and read more than my fair share of uninspiring novels, I think this book would do more for literature and cinema than most ‘how to’ books on writing. His advice is easy to follow and he gets to the point...something I really appreciate. Lastly, though by no means least, he confronts the fears all writers are faced with...I’m a talentless fraud with no hope of success. Obviously he has achieved great success but that fear that the well will run dry is addressed, and his advise to counteract that fear, though it may appear simple on the surface, has helped me to dig deep and find ideas that I was previously too stressed to see. Clearly though, I still need some help with run on sentences.

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Instant favourite

I read many book on the craft and this one shares loads of useful knowledge that you won't find in any other book.

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  • M. Clark
  • 07-05-20

Vital reading for screenwriters

I have read most books on writing craft, from fiction to screen writing, and I put this at the top tied with Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder. This book references Sabe the Cat several times and works perfectly with it, But provides more of a larger picture of what writer needs to dots be successful in the commercial writing industry. Erik Bork narrates well. He is a screenwriting teacher at UCLA extension and clearly knows how to teach. He has all the experience you want in a teacher. It’s a very short listen. I’m hiring him as a consultant after listening to this book. He does share information that I’ve never heard before, particularly on the subject of being entertaining. He has an entire section on the research he’s done about the kinds of subjects that people find entertaining. I needed this!

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  • Dylan Coburn
  • 16-11-20

Superstar book for Writers

Erik gives the best advice I’ve heard for writers - a detailed and extremely insightful approach to making the idea truly solid before the writing begins. I can not recommend this book highly enough! Erik’s read is perfect too - BAM - outta the park!

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  • Robert Leonard
  • 06-04-21

More “look what I’ve done that you can’t”

I’ve found Bork is more interested in telling you all about the reasons and ways you won’t make it as a screenwriter then actually teaching you what makes a good screenplay. Books like this are more about the authors own self edification instead of actually helping anyone really trying to start from scratch.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-03-21

Should be given a chance

Fantastic Book to those looking to get into the mind of an active screen writer

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rickie
  • 31-01-21

Great Resource!

I've read many screenwriting books and this is one of the best. Invaluable information. Made me a better screenwriter.

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  • Brandon Johnson
  • 09-08-20

Good Direction for Starting Out

This book is a great starting point for anyone who thinks they might have the passion to write but isn’t sure. This will pressure test what you think it means to write a good script.

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  • Tess
  • 03-02-20

Extremely valuable resource

Great for anyone wanting to develop an idea for a film, TV series, novel or play. Worth listening twice. Thank you!

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  • JBH
  • 07-01-20

Profound, Insightful, Inspiring!

Profound, insightful, inspiring! Indispensable instruction about how to tell stories (write screenplays) for film and television.

1 person found this helpful