- A clear concept. The concept for this project was simple: two brothers, one an athlete and the other a nerd, switch places for a day. The switching places idea has been used many times which is both a good and bad thing. The good thing, is that it works and people like it. The bad news is that there is a lot of competition for an idea like this, so your execution must be superb.
- Character is everything. Once we committed to the body switching concept, the next thing was to determine the characters of the brothers: were they twins, opposites, from different fathers or mothers, or brothers by choice? Who is the protagonist, who is the villain or obstacle?
A simple way to begin this development process is to look into your own life, and find the sibling or old friend that you have struggled with the most and extract the theme of the conflict. You can also use a story about someone you know. For example, two brothers work in a hardware store with their dad, who goes on vacation. They have to run the store without destroying it. One brother wants to glam it up, and the other wants to add a soup kitchen. You get the idea.
Part of this character development process must include deciding how the two brothers feel about each other BEFORE the father leaves. Are they rivals? Are they close? Are they adopted? This decision will help you understand the real problem in the story, and help you formulate a Premise-Question such as “Does ruthless ambition destroy everything in its’ path?”
- A great story. Now that you have a concept, and at least two well-developed characters with an identified relationship, you must focus on finding a great story. Begin by asking the 4 Magic Questions of each character, and find out what they both want, for example, to run the hardware store. Now you can build a simple story about what each of the brothers is willing to do to achieve the goal, and shape the plot to make as difficult as possible.
To recap, concept, character and a good story are the basics of any strong project.
Professor Marilyn Horowitz