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J.K. Rowlings movie adaptation of Harry Potter comes in third as the highest grossing franchise in the world: $8,532,684,345.


Script Ideas II - Part I: What to do with Ideas?

So now that you have collected hopefully dozens of snippets and stored them somewhere safe, you're probably asking yourself what do I do now?

There are several options on how to move forward from here.

 

Mix and Match

Reread your ideas from time to time and see if you can combine them into one single story. Oftentimes a number of different snippets will find themselves leading into one main idea. It's a bit like going shopping for clothes seldom will you find a whole outfit. Maybe you'll find a cool top, then on another occasion you'll find a great shoulder bag which matches perfectly with the top, eventually you have the perfect outfit!

 

Let it Rest

Sometimes you have this amazing snippet and you want to do something with it but you think and think and think and nothing comes of it. So let it rest and don’t force it. Eventually you will find something you can mix and match it with it and it all comes together. Remember to just not force it; keep the snippet in the back of your head for when it feels right. Even the most accomplished writers get "writers block" from time to time.

 

Brainstorm/Mindmap

Letting it rest doesn’t mean you should be lazy though. So write down the idea and brainstorm. A good way to do so is lay your head on a pillow and use your mind to further imagine your basic ideas potential as a great story.

Brainstorm: Pick a snippet and write down thoughts, feelings, visuals, characters, anything related to that idea without thinking too much about it.

Mindmap: Write your snippet into the middle of the page. Write ideas in bubbles and link those bubbles with lines to your center snippet. Then create more bubbles around the bubbles you've previously already linked and so on until you have a spider web of ideas.

When I Brainstorm or Mindmap I make use of the contents of a movie. The visuals, characters, the theme/story, conflicts, world of the story, plot elements, etc. This might help you to move your Brainstorming/Mindmapping into the desired upon direction.

 

What if?

Take one snippet and ask yourself the "What if?" question. Remember the “ouija board bikini idea”. I saw the bikini and instantly asked “What if I would wear such a bikini? Answer: Awake a spirit. A lot of screenplay writers use the “What if?” approach. I use it all the time and next to the “Mix and match” approach, I find it to be the most useful tool.

 

Write Something

Going deeper than brainstorming and mindmapping or “What if?” is to actually write something. It could be a scene from your snippet, fleshing out your what if question, creating a quick character outline, creating a title, etc. I often do this so I get a feel if the snippet might work and if so how? Sometimes it turns into a whole idea from there.

 

Genre

Apply a genre to your snippet. If you have a preferred writing genre then apply it to that. But also try different genres, sometimes certain snippets work better with some genres than with others. You can also combine genres, which can be fun and lead into a great outcome. A great example is the short “The Legend of Beaver Dam”, which is a musical, horror-slasher and comedy.

 

Research

You can go online and research around your idea. It's amazing what you can find. Just type in your basic snippet and see what comes up or search around key words in your snippet.

 

Watch Related Films

When you watch movies related to your snippet, you might get an idea of what to do with it. It doesn’t mean you should to the exact same thing or even something closely related, but you can get inspired, twist things around, make it fresh, you're a smart cookie, figure it out! A good example is Alien. The screenplay writer Dan O’Bannon actually stated "I didn't steal Alien from anybody. I stole it from everybody!" He got inspiration from many different sci-fi and horror works and created something fresh. The same goes for the “Scream” series of films. Kevin Williamson gave the horror slasher movement a refreshing make over.


Script Ideas II - Part II:  Exercise, Tip and Selected Links

Exercise:

Pick one snippet and try to make use of all the things mentioned above. Try them out and see what works best for you when working your snippets into a more fleshed out idea.

 

Tip:

I find this works best if I have a glass of wine when working on this part of the creative process as you block out all judgment and just come up with "stuff". 

It doesn’t need to be wine, just anything which relaxes and frees your mind will do. We certainly do have an abundance of mind altering substances in this day and age. There are a number of famous writers whose minds were altered when they wrote their most famous and cherished works.  Hey but if that's not your thing, it's okay. What's most important is to just have fun during the process. You'll find that the most enjoyable part of screenplay writing is the journey; the exciting start of something magical.

 

Useful Links:

Script Aid provides plenty of inspiration for what to do with your ideas. Just check out our different categories.