Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

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  • Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

    I hear and see these two terms used interchangeably a lot. I've even seen misinformation on what a story concept is from published authors.

    Is there a defining difference or are they basically the same thing?
    One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams. If you don't, regret will be your reward.

    The Fiction Story Room

  • #2
    Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

    I think concept hits on the polar outliers of your story. Like a Lawyer who can not lie. That's the concept of Liar Liar. The story premise would go into how he's a divorced parent sharing custody of his young son who he always lets down because of his demanding job.

    Another may be: A shark that terrorizes a small beach town in summer (concept) Chief Brody is a retired police detective from the city who is scared of the water, but he takes a cake job as police chief of this tiny Beach Town. His first summer on the job, a great white shark decides to feast off of the vacationers. (premise).

    This is my opinion formed from years of reading, I never saw the two definitions

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    • #3
      Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

      To expand on what Cyfress said, I think a concept is an idea that leads to a story. The concept is not the story. A story brings the concept to life. A story has a protag, goals, obstacles, etc. A concept does not yet have these.

      A boy gains the superpowers of a spider. A shark terrorizes a small town. A baby from another planet lands on earth. A bar owner in Morocco plays host to German occupying forces and ex-patriots from various countries. A reality show host becomes President. These in my opinion are all concepts.

      In my opinion the story premise is one step in turning the concept into a story. A single concept will lead to many story premises, many stories.

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      • #4
        Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

        Would it be fair to say that an effective logline is equivalent to the story premise then since it will include the protag, the goal, antagonist and possibly other elements like ticking clock and what's at stake?
        One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams. If you don't, regret will be your reward.

        The Fiction Story Room

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

          Read this on what a premise is. I believe it's a more accurate description of what a premise is by most literary standards: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing..._of_your_story

          Thus, a premise by definition is "a previous statement or proposition from which another is inferred or follows as a conclusion." As with one of the examples from the above short article: "Honesty is the best policy." That's something you are setting out to show, prove or that you the storyteller conclude to be true. In other words, it's the central question for the story, which would really be "Is honesty the best policy?" and you would look to prove that. A premise is something that can be manifested into many unique stories. Think about how many different ways there are to tell a story that reflects just that premise alone.

          Concept is the very most basic key element of the movie -- sort of a simpler form of a logline. So with THE SIXTH SENSE, for example, a young boy can see dead people. That's the basic concept or idea for the story.

          But the actual logline for the movie is: "A boy, who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead, seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist."

          So along with the other comments I'd say, premise OR concept could come first based on how you come up with the stories you want to write -- though I feel in many cases they can develop frequently at almost the same time.

          Now if you start doing searches on all this you'll find varying opinions and views, of course. But I think working from more strict definitions the above should hopefully help. (At the very least, that's what I remember learning in school.)
          Will
          Done Deal Pro
          www.donedealpro.com

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          • #6
            Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

            Ok thanks that makes sense!
            One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams. If you don't, regret will be your reward.

            The Fiction Story Room

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

              Originally posted by Juno Styles View Post
              Would it be fair to say that an effective logline is equivalent to the story premise then since it will include the protag, the goal, antagonist and possibly other elements like ticking clock and what's at stake?
              An effective logline is not equivalent to the story premise. An effective logline conveys the story itself.

              The premise, or what you call the story premise, is the central question of the story, as DD Pro said. The premise is what a story attempts to prove, and in proving the premise the story teaches us a lesson.

              A story premise may not come to you until after you begin writing your story, however, you could create a story based on a premise.
              Last edited by jonpiper; 07-10-2017, 11:08 PM.

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              • #8
                Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

                Originally posted by jonpiper View Post

                The premise, or what you call the story premise, is the central question of the story, as DD Pro said. The premise is what a story attempts to prove, and in proving the premise the story teaches us a lesson.

                A story premise may not come to you until after you begin writing your story, however, you could create a story based on a premise.
                Sounds pretty close to a lot of the definitions of theme.
                One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams. If you don't, regret will be your reward.

                The Fiction Story Room

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

                  Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
                  An effective logline is not equivalent to the story premise. An effective logline conveys the story itself.

                  The premise, or what you call the story premise, is the central question of the story, as DD Pro said. The premise is what a story attempts to prove, and in proving the premise the story teaches us a lesson.

                  A story premise may not come to you until after you begin writing your story, however, you could create a story based on a premise.
                  I know that opinions differ on this, but I would never attempt to write a log line that conveys the story itself.

                  In my own insular little world, the "premise" of the story is simply what the story is about.

                  That is, what you tell someone in a sentence or two if they asked you what Die Hard was about, or what Inception was about, or what Jaws was about.

                  "Concept" as I perceive it, is a broader stroke version of this.

                  That is, the concept of Inception is People going into other people's Dreams. There are bunch of movies about this. Dreamscape, The Cell, Paprika. They're all about people going into other people's dreams.

                  Jaws is a small community menaced by a giant something.

                  Die Hard is a bunch of people held hostage by terrorists. Loner's got to rescue them.

                  Those are concepts. They could, in principal, apply to many stories.

                  The story premises of these various movies are more specific and, at least from my perspective, I'd consider a log line and a movie's premise to be just about the same thing.

                  They're both ideally telling you what the movie is about.

                  Please note, the above is strictly the opinion of the poster. Do with it what you will.

                  NMS

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                  • #10
                    Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

                    To me the logline is your marketing pitch for the script in two or three sentences. Which is why you should never stand firm on that first logline, cause the real logline really can't be written with that marketing pizazz until the script is totally figured out on your end, so your logline should develop as the script does. What's Jaws gonna pitch you? A Great White and a tiny beach community. What's Godfather going to pitch you: The only straight laced son of a New York mafia Don becomes the most powerful mafia figure of his time.' If you were bringing a sports drink to market instead of a script you'd write a marketing pitch for it's strengths: Less Calories. All Natural. Great Taste.

                    I think it is good to write from a basic logline to start with. That helps with direction and keeps it in the back of your mind that you must keep on turning the story. Because as much as it's not about page numbers it is about page numbers too. If you are writing a comedy, you probably should be under 110 and anything over 95 is acceptable.

                    Nothing beats the moments you discover when writing, that's why you always have to go back to the logline and update it during the process.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

                      Originally posted by Cyfress View Post
                      To me the logline is your marketing pitch for the script in two or three sentences. Which is why you should never stand firm on that first logline, cause the real logline really can't be written with that marketing pizazz until the script is totally figured out on your end, so your logline should develop as the script does.
                      I guess my writing process is abstract then, because for me, I have to have my logline in tact before I can finish the story not afterwards. It definitely won't be perfect, but it has to be clear to me. In a brief two or three sentences it reminds me of the concept, protag's overall goal, antag, ticking clock, etc. Those are things I know I won't change. It is my roadmap and is an expanded version of the basic concept which is why I don't see how it's different from the premise if we're agreeing on the above comments on how it's a bit more detailed version of the basic concept.

                      I may go back later and wordsmith it up to read sexier when I'm done, but I don't need the script to be done for that.
                      One must be fearless and tenacious when pursuing their dreams. If you don't, regret will be your reward.

                      The Fiction Story Room

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

                        To me, you need to surprise yourself in the writing process. Yes, you have this basic outline or logline to start with, but when you get into the material you should be able to see things/discover things that you could never see when you are on the outside looking in (outlining).

                        Here's the logline to the first draft of the Sixth Sense: The son of a homicide detective sees the ghosts of those killed by a serial killer, and now he must solve the crime before anyone else is killed.

                        The story ended up in a much different place. I'm not saying either style is wrong. I'm sure great scripts are written where the writer strictly adheres to a logline formulated at the beginning. To me that seems like conforming, writing with boundaries.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

                          Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
                          The premise, or what you call the story premise, is the central question of the story, as DD Pro said. The premise is what a story attempts to prove, and in proving the premise the story teaches us a lesson.

                          A story premise may not come to you until after you begin writing your story, however, you could create a story based on a premise.
                          Originally posted by Juno Styles View Post
                          Sounds pretty close to a lot of the definitions of theme.
                          The way I described premise does sound like a lot of definitions of theme, but my definition is different than NMS's, who has much more experience than I do.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

                            Originally posted by Juno Styles View Post
                            I hear and see these two terms used interchangeably a lot. I've even seen misinformation on what a story concept is from published authors.

                            Is there a defining difference or are they basically the same thing?
                            The premise, for want of better words, is your thesis/proposition:
                            "Anyone can become the heavyweight champion of the world."

                            Many concepts may show the premise:
                            "The heavyweight champion of the world gives an unknown a shot at the title"
                            which is conceptually different from
                            "A nobody is mistaken for the heavyweight champion and goes on to take the title"
                            which is conceptually different from
                            "A UFC motormouth provokes the heavyweight champion to come out of retirement and goes on to take the title"

                            The logline may reference the chosen concept as well as other things too, as it has another purpose.

                            The theme is different. In ROCKY, he needs self-belief, he has to take the opportunity, Adrian/Mickey/Paulie all get a chance, everybody has something special about them, self respect - the theme is somewhere within all that.

                            IMO
                            Story Structure 1
                            Story Structure 2
                            Story Structure 3

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                            • #15
                              Re: Difference between Concept and Story Premise?

                              Godzilla

                              Concept: A giant mutant monster arises from the ocean to avenge the destruction of the planet by humans.

                              Theme (via Blue Oyster Cult ): History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of men.

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