We sometimes find as writers that we aren't generating unique and original story lines or characters.
“Doc: Here we go, Marty. If my calculations are correct, when the car hits 88 miles an hour, you’re gonna see some serious shit.”
Well, how do we write with originality?How do we write with originality?
Let me show YOU one way that might work.
Sometimes we find ourselves writing things that are more comfortable than compelling which leads to unoriginal and predictability.
During these periods of low inspiration, the first, second, or even tenth thing we write down is comfortable and all too familiar.
”The van side door slides open and a SWARTHY CHARACTER who resembles Yasser Arafat leans out with an AK 47 sub machine gun. He OPENS FIRE. Brown: Run for it, Marty! I’ll draw their fire!
It’s likely going to be something we have heard or seen before, resulting in something boring or cliche.
“This doesn’t make you a bad writer - it is just how our brains are wired.”
Our natural human instinct is to find comfort. This is why we find change so difficult at times. Well I’ve recently learned of a technique that I want to share with YOU that will push against that comfort by forcing ourselves into thinking deeper.
I’m going to try writing about a bank heist. How many different ways can we answer the question “How do they rob the bank?”.
Out of the car, masks on, through the front door with shotguns.
This is 90% of heist movies, so it’s good we are getting this out of the way! Lets keep going!
Around the back, knocking out the security guard who is taking a secret smoking break.
Ramming a lorry straight through the lobby window and going in all guns blazing.
Hacking into the electronics at night, and robbing it under the stealth of total darkness.
Waiting patiently. As a bank teller opens the security door, throw a paper airplane doused in petrol through it. Using a remote spark, detonate it, causing a small fire. The fire alarms go off, releasing the locks so you can break in.
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Thinking of more ideas from this point is going to get harder, and that’s a good thing! Lets keep going.
Drilling in from underneath the bank.
The heist team all get jobs at the bank and they rob it from the inside.
One of the team acts pregnant, her water breaks at the bank and must get to the hospital. But! Another member of the team backs a truck up to the doors and runs away. The manager, who can’t be dealing with this, brings the pregnant team member through the back. She knocks him out, steals his card, takes several piles of cash from safety deposit boxes, hides them in the hollow cavity of her fake pregnant belly, and escapes out of the front door via an “ambulance” which just conveniently happens to be...more members of the team.
That last one might not be the greatest of ideas, just yet. But developing the idea and changing a few things here and there, you might have yourself a compelling and unique spin on a common action movie convention.
This technique can work with any type of story, whether that be a piece of dialog in a diner, a morning montage, or being shouted at by your principal at school.
By forcing our brains to keep thinking of more and more versions of the same scenario, we find ourselves running out of comfortable solutions, and in turn, we find originality.
So next time you are struggling to write an original scenario for your screenplay, try writing a dozen and going with the last one.
In fact, here is a challenge! I want YOU to write 10 different ways a character is being yelled at by their boss, and put them down below! Let’s see what we can all come up with.
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