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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Premise Testing

The Wave-inatrix was lucky enough to spend the entire day with a Rouge Waver and dear friend who'd flown all the way to Los Angeles from Toronto to participate in the Venice Film Festival. What a fun filled day! As we lunched at the Daily Grill on Hollywood Blvd. at the Kodak Theater, I shared something with my friend that she instantly wanted to jot down on her napkin and that is something I have shared before on the Rouge Wave - the idea of asking some questions of your brand-new premise to make sure it's sound. Kick the tires, in other words, before you get 38 pages in and start banging your head against the wall because your souffle is coming up flat.

Here is a worksheet I would recommend using for every premise you come up with. Simply fill it out in pencil and voila, watch the skeleton of your story come together.


Premise line:




World (location/situation):

Main Character:
Age/stage of life


Set up or inciting incident:

1st act break event:

Midpoint reversal:

2nd act break event:

Ticking Clock:

Showdown or Climactic Scene:

How does this story fit into the current zeitgeist?

What age is the audience for this story idea?

What is universally resonant about this story?

Approximate Budget:

List Three Movies which are in ANY way similar:
When was each released?
What was the box office?

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shecanfilmit said...

Cool. I'll try this out.

Is the premise line the same thing as a logline??

Laura Reyna said...

I use a Concept Worksheet that has similar, but not identical, info on it.

I also use a worksheet/questionaire for my main char's & developing the various obstacles.

I first starting experimenting with this method a few yrs ago & keep tweaking the sheets as I gain more insight into my process. These sheets are now permanent tools in my writing process.

I like these b/c it saves time and reduces stress. You have to ask basically the same questions every time you start a new script, so why not write the questions down on a sheet so you don't have to worry about missing something?

I find it more efficient than trying to invent the wheel from scratch every single time.

Rico said...

Would you consider filling out this sheet for a recent hit film so we get an idea of what a good one should look like? Maybe Superbad?

The Style Bard said...

Share with us, Laura Reyna, share!