I happened upon this story about the new CBS sitcom based on the very popular blog “Shit My Dad Says.” It’s an inspirational story about someone finding a “story” in their everyday life.
When people find out that I am a writing teacher they say one of two things:
1) I have a great idea for a story!
2) I don’t have anything to write about.
On the surface they seem to be completely opposite statements but I’ve found after working with hundreds of writers that both groups are in the same boat.
The first group of people – that believe they have a great idea for a story – often just have part of a story and quickly run out of steam, usually around page 60 or 70 of their screenplay.
The second group of people – the ones that don’t think they have anything to write about – don’t realize that they do have, at the very least, part of a story inside them and they, like the other group, just need to structure their story correctly and get it out.
As an exercise:
Think of a recent experience from your own life that you find interesting? Why do you like it? Was it funny? Sad? What did you learn?
Now, set a timer for 10 minutes and write down everything that happened. Include every detail. Who did it involve? Where were you? What were you doing? What was the other person doing?
When you’re finished, take a look at what you’ve written. Could you see this as a movie, i.e. sustain for 90-120 pages? Would it be better as a short? A play? A blog? What did you include that is unnecessary? What would you have to add? Does it answer each of The Four Magic Questions of Screenwriting? Which question does it not?