This is a movie premise*. It was written for the film that became “Batman Begins.” In no more than 5 pages, it explains to possibly interested executives everything that will happen in the film. The final cut of “Batman Begins” came in at 2 hours and 20 minutes. How is it possible that someone sold the idea of the film to a studio with 5 pages of brief explanation?

Someone got trained, and you can too.

There’s both a screenwriting minor and a screenwriting certificate offered through Missouri State University (my soon-to-be alma mater), and the first class you take in the process is called “Genre Writing for Television and Film.” It will kick your butt. I picked it up as a general media elective to finish the hours in my minor, and I’ve spent the semester alternately interested, entertained, and scared half to death. I’m a good writer. On certain days, I’m a great writer. I am not, however, a premise writer. I’d never done it before (nor had anyone else in the class), and it’s been an uphill climb to learn how to do it right.

I have not, for the record, managed to do it exactly right, yet. I just turned in my second assignment. It was a movie premise (for the first assignment, I did a television premise). It was a romantic comedy idea. I was told it was funny (good!), and then I was told that I needed a third act, a good chunk of world-building, and some more character development. I was also told that I had a good concept that could make a good script, and that I needed to stop writing like an English major (a common complaint amongst Media profs who have taught me Media writing).

Reviewing the notes from the critique, and rereading my premise, I realized that I probably won’t be turning it into a script any time soon. For one, I don’t have the time to take the necessary courses to learn how to write a good script. For another, reading through it again I saw, in a sudden burst of late realization, that my movie premise could easily be the outline for a novel. And not only that, but I knew how everything started and carried on and ended, and thanks to the critique, I knew where I needed to start working on the overall story.

I’ve never outlined a novel. It’s not my style, and the bare, roman numeral outlines I’ve always been told to lay out have always struck me as too bland for something as large-scale and detail-oriented as a novel. But the movie premise formula, the layout and explanation, this is something I can use, and I think it’s something you could use too. If you’ve got something like “Genre Writing” on your campus, and you want to learn to write better, take the class. You’ll get your butt handed to you, but that’s the point. To be a better writer, you have to be ready to be told what you’re doing now isn’t good enough. I will probably not end up writing premises for television or movies, but now I have a way to figure out how to write just about everything else.

*For more premises (as well as scripts), see simplyscripts.com.

I started this blog with a list of topics I knew I wanted to cover.  I sat down last week to pick a topic to really start off the blog and ended up making a close approximation to this emoticon:

o.O

It’s not that I couldn’t sit down and write a blog entry about any of the topics I had listed; it’s that I didn’t feel any of them were right to start off this blog in the manner I find most fitting.

As with every kind of writing, the hardest part of blog writing is getting started.

I am a voice of experience in the matter.  I’ve written short stories and novels and news articles (fun, fun, and fun) and plays and poetry (not my forte).  I wrote a 30-page academic paper on the reactions of female comic book fans to character death in comic books (fascinating), and I’ve dabbled in non-fiction essays (good times).  But I’ve also written employee manuals and brochures and style guides (more fun) and a television series proposal (yeah, not doing that for a living).  And I’ve written mock-ups for ad copy and news broadcasts (fun but not my cup of tea).  Before my final semester of undergraduate work is over, I’ll write a movie premise (terrified), and I’ve definitely blogged before (enjoyable).

I tell people that I’m a Professional Writing major, and they nearly always ask, “What’s that?”

See above.

The way I see it, if it needs an editor, it’s professional writing.  You can call it your novel, your poetry, your song lyrics, or your crochet pattern, but at the end of the day, each of those types of writing has a particular format and a particular set of rules, and my career goal is to be the one who’s helping you make sure what you’ve written fits into its format.

There’s more to it than that, certainly, and I plan to talk about all those aspects on this blog, but for now, you get this first post (not counting my place-holding intro) with a smattering of my credentials from experience, and I get to take a deep breath and say, “Okay, that first post is written now,” and relax in the knowledge that the getting started has gotten started.