Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to Find an Idea For a Screenplay

Feel like you have a movie in your head but you're not sure how to get it out? Have a ton of uncompleted screenplays in your drawer that are just collecting dust? Positive you can be a rich screenwriter but not sure how to get started?

Here's a quick guide to coping up with an idea for a screenplay that doesn't royally suck.

Tip 1. Brainstorm

So where do you start? You need more than just... "Two guys fight in space" or "A mutant crocodile attacks Vegas." Movies are about characters. Namely one character-who has to go through an ordeal of some kind. So why not make the character you.

Start journaling about times in your life when you were emotionally pushed to the brink. Is there one theme that comes up in your life over and over again? How can you turn that into a story? (Who knows...maybe there is a mutant crocodile involved?)

Tip 2. Logline

So you've got a basic 'vibe' or 'feel' you want for the story. "A young boy clashes w/his parents over college." Now it's time to turn up the heat and make it a story.

This is where we come up with a logline-the old TV guide mini-descriptions of shows you could find in the periodical. So what is a logline...?

It is not "Die Hard on a Ferris Wheel." It is a situation: where Somebody must do something (that's really hard/painful to do) to avoid/prevent/achieve something or else this other worse something could happen.

A young farmer must leave the comfort of his hometown to join an intergalactic space battle or the universe will be taken over by an evil empire. (Star Wars)

Tip 3. Elevator Pitch

This is where you pitch your idea to everybody you know. Don't worry, nobody will steal it. (They'd have to actually write it.) Just keep going until you have an idea where other people go...wow that's awesome. When you've got that, you're ready to write a screenplay.