Storytelling always begins with an idea: a What-If or a claim. Whether this claim is based on plot, character, genre, or a piece of dialog, it will always start with a single piece of information or a thought that then unravels with potential; assuming it is an inspiring thought. What exchanges a good from a bad idea is often subjective, but what shifts it into a surefire premise in most cases the strength of a concept can be determined by its level of clarity and originality. JK Rowling claims that her first idea for Harry Potter came from “What if a boy rode a train to a magical school” however we also have to admit that her story also went through 17 rejections, during which she may have heavily adapted and enhanced her story from its original intention into something that sold. In her first example, a boy riding a magical train is a fairly plain and vague thought, whereas as the more effective concept she adapted over time would have been better described as “what if a boy defeated the darkest wizard of all time as a baby and then found out they were cursed” combined with “what if this boy then goes to a magical school in which a secret object has been hidden away that may revive that dark wizard?” which immediately creates clearer characters, conflict, stakes, and a world. It doesn’t reveal everything, but reveals enough; the rest is a job for the story as it unfolds.


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