It’s been said that a writers’ main tool is the question, “What if?” With this simple query, we can explore any ordinary event’s limitless plot possibilities. Your task: Get a copy of today’s newspaper. Read 5 articles with our question in mind. What if she stole the money? What if those soldiers were plotting something? What if that man was lying? Write out one movie idea for each article you read.
Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman
Write the full name of your character down the left side of a page, one successive letter on each line. On each line, write a true statement about the character (or from his/her voice) beginning the first word of each line with each successive letter of the character?ÇÄôs name. So for a character named Holmeyer:
He lives with a rabbit
Ebbs when he should flow
Yearns for love
Runs from life
Try it with all your main characters. (Try it with your own name)
I was talking to a grocery store clerk about writing the other day, when he asked, “How do you write about characters that you can’t stand?” I responded with saying, “finding compassion for our characters gives us the ability to understand them more which helps when we write their lives.” Your task: Pick a person you dislike. Write a 1-page synopsis for a plot based on their life as a hero’s journey.
Want to understand your character’s life? Create a timeline that details the major events in it.
Pick a character from something you’re writing.
How old are they now?
Make a timeline that spans from birth to their current age.
Notate major positive or negative impacting events in their life.
Write a sentence or short paragraph describing each event.
From your character’s perspective: My life is a series of…
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.
Sometimes we get so into the challenge of finishing our screenplays that we forget to go back and make sure our characters have a consistent voice. Your Task: Read a screenplay that you or someone else wrote. Get into the mindset of one character and read it thinking of them. While you read, consider what’s awkward, what’s natural, what their voice is and if it’s being followed throughout. How is the character real or superficial? What could make them more consistent?
Relieve writer’s block by finding new stories to tell. If you’re not planning your own adventure, check out weird stories from around the world.
Navigate to an online search engine and query “weird news”.
Pick a site, then a story.
Imagine the actions and dialogue that make this story a reality.
Write a two-page scene.
Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman
Two cars, a sports car and an SUV arrive at the same parking spot. Write the scene or sequence of scenes in
a. A Romantic Comedy
b. An Action Adventure
c. A Film Noir mystery
d. Science Fiction
You may change the vehicles and characters inhabiting them as you please.
A plot device is a person or object in a story that is used to advance the plot. Your task: Identify the plot and at least one plot device in 5 movies.
You can learn a thing or two about the way you write by delving into what you like.
Identify your favorite scene of all time.
Get that movie and watch the scene.
Let go and write for 10 minutes about the scene.
Why do you like it so much?
What does it bring up for you?
How has it influenced you?