There are many jobs in Hollywood that require storytelling skills. We often look at things like writing and directing for their skills, but producers and executives need to know about story as well. Whether you're starting from the blank page or giving notes, story development is crucial to your career. 

You need to be able to suss out characters, motivations, brainstorm set pieces, and even distill notes down into cogent loglines and pitches. 

If you work in the biz, you need to learn how to develop. 

Today, I am going to focus on talking about story. We will learn how to develop a story, how to turn ideas into stories, and why story development is a skill that can take you far in your career in Hollywood. 

Come with me, and you'll be... in a world of pure imagination! (And stories!)

What Is Story Development, and How do Execs and Writers Use It? 

Let's start at the beginning. You want to work in Hollywood. Well, as a filmmaker, screenwriter, executive, or studio head, you want to tell stories. These stories can go on the big or small screen. 

But how do you take a germ of an idea and turn it into a fully grown screenplay or a project? 

Through development. 

Story Development Definition 

Story development is the most important part of brainstorming. Say you have an idea, a small piece of something you think could be a movie or a television show. Story development is the process you go through to take that kernel of thought and turn it into a fully fleshed-out screenplay or pitch. 

This is your journey of taking inspiration from your imagination and putting tangible details down on paper. By the time you're done, you should be able to communicate this to someone else and have them totally understand what you are trying to do. 

You'll add characters, wants, desires, goals, set pieces, and other beats as you go. You're honing a block of marble into your David. That's what development is, and it is a superpower that will always be in high demand. 

Story Development for Executives 

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I worked at a pretty big production company. As I rose in the ranks, I became a story editor. My main job, day in and day out, was to work with the creatives on our projects. I kept track of drafts, loglines, articles we were trying to attach people to, and the lookbooks we had sitting around for ideas where we wanted to attach talent. 

The story was a huge part of my day. I needed to pull things from the New York Times I thought would be sellable to studios or even obscure books whose rights were available that we could talk about with filmmakers. 

If I had advanced to become a creative executive or even the president of a company, story development would have been one of the chief aspects of my job. That's when you need to form relationships with creators, directors, writers, and even actors. You'll meet with them generally and hear what kinds of stories they want to tell. 

Then, if you have chemistry with them, you can develop that idea together to take out. That's what producing is, among many other things. You can even convince these people to take on your passion projects and work together on your kernels and turn them into something magical. 

Story Development for Writers 

This is a more traditional route for storytellers. As a writer, you need to be working on ideas all the time. You can't put all your eggs in one basket. So you need to be constantly listing and developing ideas. The reason is, as you take meetings, maybe an exec says they're dying for an idea about a chef, and you have a list of articles or story kernels about chefs. You can jam on it with them and possibly find a partner for that idea. 

So how do writers actually develop stories? 

We have whole lists of ideation and strategies, writing prompts, and creative screenwriting exercises to get your brain moving. You can look for things in the public domain or consider biopics, and anything else. The ideas are limitless. 

Coming up with movie and TV ideas is not easy. Whether you're battling writer's block or just need to start a new screenplay, the journey to inspiration is treacherous. The process of breaking into screenwriting in Hollywood involves constantly generating new ideas. You and your reps will want to be sending out a new screenplay every few months until one hits. That means you need to constantly be thinking of new loglines and stories so you know what you're writing next. 

As long as you are developing stories, you're always working toward that dream 

What's next? Get our free screenwriting eBook

So much of what we're talking about on No Film School when it comes to screenwriting is summarized in our new eBook. It also helps guide you through a 10-week writing plan that will get your script actually finished.