Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Inspiration to order - coming up with great story ideas

Well, Script Frenzy is over - and the good news is, so is Last Girl Standing, my script. It feels great to have a first draft done so quickly! I've had a cursory read of the draft and while it needs a lot of work, like all first drafts, there's definitely some usable stuff in there.

I'm gonna stick it in a drawer and come back to it in a week or two, when the real work (i.e. rewriting hell) begins...

Scott Myers' excellent series of posts here on story ideas (he tried to generate a story idea a day for a month based on news stories and other quirky sources) made me think about how we get ideas for scripts.

Sometimes it's a location. I was in the UAE years ago because my dad was doing some work out there and just seeing the exotic - and very alien - environment made me think of a story. Then I heard about salukis, which are Arab racing dogs, and that steered the story in a certain direction.

With the script I just finished,  it was partly reading about tontines - which are a kind of long-term wager - and partly seeing a page from a Worst Case Scenario Handbook. It was called How to Stop a Wedding (everything from pulling the fire alarm to faking a seizure) and immediately suggested a premise for a romcom with bite.

I wrote a script called Searching for Summer, which is about a spoiled teen singer who runs away from fame and tries to live as a normal teen. That idea came from an article about Britney Spears, which depicted her as someone whose life was completely in thrall to her management, her fans and her family. I read it and thought, what if one day she shouted, "Stop, I want to get off this train!" What happens to you when you don't want to be famous anymore?

Alan Ball was apparently inspired to write American Beauty by seeing a plastic bag twisting in the wind. Yes, really.

How do you come up with ideas? Is it from a story someone tells you in a bar? An article in a newspaper? Somewhere cool you once visited? Or, dare I say it, solely from your imagination?

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