What To Think About When Deciding On Your Story Universe

Ever wondered how to write a screenplay? Where do you begin? After the initial concept you need to start thinking about your story world.

Where is your screenplay set?

There are countless ways for screenwriters to approach their story. Let’s start with these four key elements:

  • character
  • theme
  • concept
  • plot

There is no correct way of assembling these elements into a perfect order.

Creating the world of your screenplay is arguably the most important aspect of your story build because it encapsulates all four preceding elements. It is the spine of your screenplay.

Apart from the main constructs of story, defining its world helps determine the mythology of your movie script. It confirms which moving parts belong in your story ecosystem. If you’re creating a TV series, knowing the world helps determine not only what plot lines or character relationships are appropriate, but how they will be explored.

In fantasy, sci-fi, horror or supernatural stories, defining your world sets parameters for a heightened realistic or completely artificial world. This includes particular elements such as a talking animals or superpowers.

Knowing your world can be the hook when writers pitch their screenplay. The audience might ask whether they have seen this world before and subsequently are they interested in watching characters populate this world.

Approaching the creation of your world has two key elements; the BROAD STROKES and the NUANCES.


Where is your story set? What is the time period?  This helps define genre, audience, programming, finance, sponsorship and the host of machinations to produce your story.

Your world can begin with something as broad as a retirement home. As you hone your story, it will become more specific. Your world may evolve into a  retirement home in the outer galaxy where the average age is 175 years old with no living relatives.

Broad strokes also illustrate the culture and demographics of your story. Is it set in the urban gangsta rap world, suburban high school, the eclectic world of ball room dancing, a college football team or the White House?


These relate to the softer, idiosyncratic storytelling elements which highlight the writer’s unique voice. They transmit the tone, mood, feel and emotional landscapes. Consider the nuances as the color and shade of the broad strokes. They relate to the execution and the intimate details of your story. Drawing on our previous examples, how might a marriage story be told in a retirement home versus in a the world of ballroom dancing?

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