After you come up with your own system for generating ideas, the next step is to put them in some recognizable story form (the basic plot idea), build your central conflict (the story premise sheet), then build your character and underlying themes (the thematic premise sheet).


The plot involves the Protagonist’s search for a person, place or thing, tangible or intangible (but must be quantifiable, so think of this as a noun; i.e., immortality). In Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, the stoner best friends go on a journey to find the ultimate late night munchies.


This plot involves the Protagonist going in search of their fortune, and since fortune is never found at home, the Protagonist goes to search for it in unfamiliar territory.


This plot literally involves hide-and-seek, one person chasing another.


This plot involves the Protagonist searching for someone or something, usually consisting of three main characters – the Protagonist, the Victim & the Antagonist.


Plot involves the Protagonist taking action(s) that is motivated by a higher purpose (concept) such as love, honor, charity or for the sake of humanity.



Retaliation by Protagonist or Antagonist against the other for real or imagined injury. In Oldboy, revenge knows no limits.


Plot involves the Protagonist’s search for clues to find the hidden meaning of something in question that is deliberately enigmatic or ambiguous.


Plot involves Protagonist competing for same object or goal as another person (their rival).


Plot involves a Protagonist competing for an object or goal that is at a great disadvantage and is faced with overwhelming odds.


Plot involves a Protagonist that for one reason or another is induced or persuaded to do something that is unwise, wrong or immoral.



Plot involves the Protagonist facing a problem that is part of growing up, and from dealing with it, emerging into a state of adulthood (going from innocence to experience). In The Lion King, young Simba matures into a king after dealing with an uncle that hates on his throne.


Plot involves the process of change in the Protagonist as they journey through a stage of life that moves them from one significant character state to another.


This plot involves the physical characteristics of the Protagonist actually changing from one form to another (reflecting their inner psychological identity).

#14 LOVE

Plot involves the Protagonist overcoming the obstacles to love that keeps them from consummating (engaging in) true love.


Plot involves Protagonist(s) overcoming obstacles created by social mores and taboos to consummate their relationship (and sometimes finding it at too high a price to live with).



Plot involves a Protagonist confined against their will who wants to escape (does not include someone trying to escape their personal demons). In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne goes through a tunnel of shit to get his life back.


Plot that is the most character-centered of all, involves the Protagonist having to overcome an upheavel(s) in their life, and thereby discovering something important (and buried) within them a better understanding of life (i.e., better appreciation of their life, a clearer purpose in their life, etc.)


Plot involves a Protagonist who, either by choice or by accident, pushes the limits of acceptable behavior to the extreme and is forced to deal with the consequences (generally deals with the psychological decline of the character).


Rags-to-riches plot deals with the rise (success) of Protagonist due to a dominating character trait that helps them to succeed.


Riches-to-rags plot deals with the fall (destruction) of Protagonist due to dominating character trait that eventually destroys their success.

(Note: Sometimes #19 & #20 are combined into rags-to-riches-to-rags (or vice versa) of a Protagonist who does (or doesn’t) learn to deal with their dominating character trait.)

IDEAS, PLOTS & USING THE PREMISE SHEETS | Tennessee Screenwriting Association


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