Sometimes, seeing where other people have taken an idea can inspire us with new ways to develop our own. Your task: Make a list of five things you are passionate about. Identify as many movies you can think of that cover the first item on your list. Do a 5-minute free-write with the starting sentence, “Stories can be…”
Focusing on comedies, let’s take a look at what makes you laugh.
Watch a comedy that you think is actually funny.
Watch it again.
On the second time through, note the jokes that made you laugh.
What are the common threads in the jokes that really make me laugh?
When I’m writing a story, I like to get descriptive. When I’m writing a screenplay, I try to narrow that long-winded drive into shorter sentences with fewer words. This gives the production crew an easier time in bringing the script to screen.
Go somewhere you want to write about.
List ten words that describe this place.
Narrow it down to three that truly capture the essence.
Write one descriptive sentence that shows where you are.
The first time I had my screenplay read out loud, I immediately knew many of the things that had to change. Try it! Your Task: Get hold of a finished screenplay. Get a group of people (at least 2 others). Assign parts to each person and read the screenplay out loud. Finished? Now, have each person do a 10-minute freewrite answering the following questions: What are my impressions of this work? What do I wish was in it? What am I glad that was included? Share.
Usually, a movie’s plot is what draws me to it and its’ plot twists are what keep me there. Your Task: Watch 10 movies and identify the turning points in the plot. Answer these questions: How did these turning points happen? Was there a consistent theme from movie to movie?
One of the best ways to learn is to practice! Your Task: Read Screenwriter John August’s blog entry, “How To Write A Scene.” Following the instructions (minus step 11), grab an article from today’s news and write it into a movie scene.
What changes in your scenes when you reduce or expand them? Screenwriting books almost unanimously call for an economy of words — choosing your words wisely and using less to say more. Practice this. Your Task: Come up with a scene from a movie and write 3 versions of the same scene. Write the first one using a 1/2 page; the second one with 1 1/2 pages; and the third one using 3 pages.
Let’s change place around and see how it affects everything.
Write (or find) a two-page scene that takes place outside, in the sunshine.
Rewrite it three times — once while it’s raining; once while it’s snowing; and once at night.
Research is a great way to learn more about our characters. Your Task: Pick a subject that your character is familiar with that you might not know much about. Research and list 15 facts on that subject.
Create a mind map to help you brainstorm the structure of an idea. Place your story idea in the center of the mind map, and see what comes out.