Thursday, January 14, 2010

Your world is ALIVE with story possibilities!

WELCOME TO THE NEW YEAR.... and another year of Screenwriting Tips from

Let's start at the beginning for those just joining us.One of the most frequently asked questions at my public seminars is “Where do I get my story ideas?” as if there is some magical place or supermarket where more experienced writers find good story ideas on a shelf. Well, I have a secret for you…. the supermarket for stories is called LIFE.

I am honestly not being flip in my response - but challenging you to start looking around you at life itself. Your world is ALIVE with story possibilities…. you just need to train yourself to begin to see them. And that training begins with the actual writing.

Check out this link to see how one writer began to see the possibilities around her.

As you struggle to harness the creative energy that compelled you to begin the process of writing - you change it and channel it to where you want it to go. You move from asking yourself what IF or HOW come….. to something far more concrete. You move to I DID, or they DID, or your hero did…. Something - which started a journey for the both of you. And now you just have to see it through to the end.

And as you write and make choices for your characters based on who you think they are - you grow as a person, as a craftsperson and as an imaginative being. You grow to trust the intuitive side of your brain (right) to come up with answers for where the road map side (left) says you have to turn next to keep the momentum of the story moving forward. And as you see more of your inner world of story - you begin to see more of the story possibilities for the outer world too. Each feeds the other, in turn.

The second most frequent question that I hear is, “What makes a good story?” And again, not intending any kind of humor at all - I answer, YOU make a good story. Anything at all can BE a story ! But it is the choices the writer makes in telling the story that give it depth, and humanity and emotion. You, the writer, will determine how much of your own passion and wit and personality you will RISK pouring into your characters and their lives. The more you risk, the greater your chances for outstanding success. Great stories are not created by writers who are afraid to venture into the darkest corners of their (or their characters) psyches. You can’t expect your audience to FEEL big emotions if you aren’t willing to feel them as you WRITE.

As an exercise, watch a movie or read a book that makes you uncomfortable emotionally; not just antsy - but really uncomfortable. Once you’ve finished watching the film all the way through…. Ask yourself why you were so uncomfortable. Try to imagine how the writer felt as she/ he created the scenes that made you squirm the most.

We tell stories for any number of reasons, but the best stories MOVE people to FEEL things. The best stories seduce the viewer / or reader into identifying completely with the world of the main character - their hopes, their dreams and their calamities. You can’t create that unless you LIVE IT as you write.

Check out these LINKS to my own 'story' that I wrote and started shooting right on my own kitchen table over Christmas. There has never been a better time to be a screenwriting. Just start writing now!! AND ENJOY....

The School of Practical Wizardry on You Tube: my tiny mini-series

Chapter ONE -
Chapter TWO -
Chapter THREE -

See you in 2 weeks for more screenwriting advice. And I hope this helps you make the leap to writing!!