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The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue & Vice for Box Office Success [Paperback]

By Stanley D. Williams (Author)
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Item description for The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue & Vice for Box Office Success by Stanley D. Williams...

The Moral Premise reveals the foundational concept at the heart of all storytelling and successful box office movies. In concrete terms it explains how you can create your own success and, in the process, entertain, delight, challenge, and uplift this generation and the ones to come.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Michael Wiese Productions
Pages   221
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 15, 2006
Publisher   Michael Wiese Productions
ISBN  1932907130  
ISBN13  9781932907131  

Availability  90 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 24, 2016 02:39.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About Stanley D. Williams

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stanley D. Williams was born in 1947.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > General
2Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > History & Criticism
3Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Movies > Screenwriting
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Ethics & Morality

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue & Vice for Box Office Success?

so-so  Jul 24, 2008
A lot about the history of the premise in it's various guises occupies too much of the book. There's some useful information but I found it to be too little and not presented in a manner that I found to be useful. I think there are better ways to introduce such matters.It's a one time read and into the pile for me.
The Essence of Story but with some fluff  Jun 12, 2008
This is probably the best book on the essence of story that I have read thus far. It is clear and concise and offers easy practical steps to incorporate the Moral Premise into your script or novel. The book clears up the difference between Premise and Theme and expounds the importance of starting with Premise when writing your story.

Here's the fluff or filler: Chapters 2,4,6, and 7 are either redudant or excessive filler that could have been reduced to about 10 to 15 pages in total or at best omitted. These chapters were on the Theory section, but I felt did not add to the text, perhaps on just a superficial level.

The end of chapter exercises read like textbook summary questions. Williams also notes on a few occassions that he either does not have the time or space or it's not the scope of the book when briefly mentioning a number of topics, but has 20 BLANK pages throughout this book as section dividers. I would have liked better if he had either used those blank pages as either worksheet templates or better yet to expand on these topics that he mentions briefly in his book because of "so-called" lack of space:

Such as: Exploring all the film genres' moral values in conflict (mentioned in the book); going in more depth of other authors who point to the moral premise in their books; examples of advance applicaiton of arc plots in other screenplay structures; going in more depth of each of the Three Act Structural Parts.

He also mentions the Purchase Pyramid. Does anyone know what that is???

All in all, this is an excellent book and it does deliver what it has set forth to do. Every writer should read this book before they embark in their writing!
An Important Book for Screenwriters  May 27, 2008
In THE MORAL PREMISE, Stanley Williams analyzes numerous contemporary films, creating an admirable companion to the analyses of stage plays in Lajos Egri's classic, THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING.

Williams explains the concept of moral premise first "academically" and later "practically": "Every one of the physical obstacles that the protagonist confronts is rooted in a single psychological, spiritual, or emotional obstacle....That single psychological obstacle is summed up by the Moral Premise--a statement of truth about the protagonist's psychological predicament."

The moral premise "is comprised of four parts: a virtue, a vice, desirable consequences (success), and undesirable consequences (defeat). These four parts can be used to create a statement that describes precisely what a movie is really about, on both physical and psychological levels. This is the formal structure of a Moral Premise: [Vice] leads to defeat, but [Virtue] leads to success" (p 60).

Throughout the book, Williams presents the moral premise as the subtext underlying numerous films such as:
* "BRAVEHEART: Compromise of liberty leads to tyranny, but dying for liberty leads to freedom";
* "AN OFFICER AND A GENTELMAN: Deceiving ourselves and others leads to despair and death, but truthfulness to ourselves and others leads to hope and life";
* "DIE HARD: Covetous hatred leads to death and destruction, but sacrificial love leads to life and celebration."

Do all films follow or even have a moral premise? No. Williams' contention is that the ones that win box office success do. Not convinced? Williams presents a formidable-looking mathematical equation (p. 164) from "Narrative Argument Validity and Film Popularity," his 600-page Ph. D. dissertation. Not to worry, he isn't just an academic. The bio-note on the book's jacket says "he's an internationally award-winning film-maker, writer, and instructor. During the past 30 years, he has produced, written, directed, shot, or edited over 400 projects."

The practical part explains eight steps to outline your screenplay.

1. Determine the controlling virtue.
2. Determine the controlling vice.
3. Determine the moral premise.
4. Determine the movie's genre.
5. Determine the protagonist's physical goal.
6. Determine the protagonist's physical obstacles.
7. Determine the major dramatic beats.
8. Sequence the dramatic beats.

This lucid book merits top priority on the aspiring screenwriter's study list.

-- C J Singh
Truly Enjoyable and Useful  May 15, 2008
If you're looking for a book to help you write a truly significant screenplay, pick up this one. This book explains the "meat" of what makes a good story work: the moral premise, which, like Lajos Egri's premise, is a unifying, driving theme that helps the author decide what MUST be in the play or movie and what must be cut -- but with a moral dimension that will resonate with today's moviegoers.

Definitely check this book out: it's very accessible and a great read. I'll be coming back to it myself.
In one word: WOW!  May 22, 2007
I read an interview with Stanley Williams wherein he claimed his concept of a moral premise would provide a more dynamic story for both screen AND fiction writers. Game as I am for a lesson in how to improve my writing, I purchased THE MORAL PREMISE and afforded it the opportunity to wow me.

The result? WOW!

This book is fantastic. THE MORAL PREMISE doesn't advocate a religious or moral lifestyle for the writer who would apply the ideas therein. What it does push, however, is the idea that the truly great stories have at its core a moral premise, a statement that amounts to nothing more than a conflict of two opposing values. It can be as simple as, "Bigotry leads to injustice, but equality leads to justice." You then structure your story around this one premise, with every character playing to either end of the spectrum. The end result is a bigger sense of purpose instilled in your story that will move your audience in ways that most books/movies don't accomplish.

That's just the nutshell version of the technique; trust me when I say it's much more layered. And yet, it's not difficult to grasp or execute; I've already applied it to my stories with phenomenal results. Williams does front load the book with theory, as most writing books do, but his theory proves to be riveting as he constantly fuses it with practical application. Probably more important is that he backs up his findings by analyzing a ton of movies. In this way, you learn that much quicker how to correctly incorporate a moral premise into your story. I give THE MORAL PREMISE 10 stars, and highly recommend it if you want to take your story to the next level.

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