How To Come Up With Catchy Screenplay Ideas


You think you have writers block? Creative juices running as slow as molasses?

Do you have a million concepts floating around in your head but no real story? Welcome to Brainstorming 101 for screenwriters. Your screenwriting is not doomed.

Here are some steps you can take to harness your creative energy:

1) Create a table with ten columns.

2) Write any idea that comes to mind. Dogs, war, food. Don’t stop. Don’t edit. They are random ideas at this point and don’t even need to be related or make sense. Don’t censor. This is your subconscious hard at work, streaming ideas into your conscious mind. These ideas are your current concerns and interests.

3) As you’re listing concepts roughly group them by column. If a concept you’ve just thought of doesn’t fit into a column of ideas, create a new column.

4) At some point your creative well will run dry. That’s okay, because you have generated numerous story ideas. At this point, circle the ones that have any story potential. This is where you separate viable ideas that can be developed from the abstract ones.

5) Create headings that group together certain subjects or themes within your ideas. Group your random ideas under these headings. See which heading has the most entries.

6) If multiple headings have equal numbers of entries, go an a sixty second creative binge to see if you can add more ideas to them.

7) If there is still no clear winner, eliminate the entries which you can’t develop right now.

8) Repeat this process until you have a winner.

9) When you do start creating idea bubbles. Start with the heading and add each entry as a satellite cloud. Fill in each cloud with what you want to say about each and how it relates to the heading.

10) You may notice that  headings change as you start leaning towards certain clusters of themes and subjects.

11) Perform another idea cull and refine the dominant themes. Continue until you’re down a single predominant theme. Take some time to flesh it out and better define it.

12) Think about how you want to explore your theme. Consider the entire spectrum of points of view. For instance if your predominant theme is poverty, what do you want to say about it? Should we accept it? Can we fix it?

13) Consider opposing points of view. This is your conflict. How will the protagonist and antagonists act? Where will they clash ideologically? Who will win? Say you want to tell a story that poverty is a purely the result of greed and it shouldn’t have to exist in a developed society.

11)  Create characters that illustrate this theme. Think of their character arcs, their plot choices and their shifting perceptions of the theme.

12) Do these perceptions change? How do the characters evolve?

13) Now you can start creating random scenes you want to see in your screenplay. You can also loosely set the act breaks and assign the scenes to each act.

14) This will form the basis of your outline. The theme, characters and plot will most likely undergo several incarnations as you develop your theme and characters further.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Thanks for sharing your method! May try it!

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