I’m excited to be able to share the latest episode of Your Friday Funnys. Please read, laugh and share!
This week marks the first session of my NYU class, Writing a Screenplay in Eight Weeks. I have a great group of students who all came in with a story idea. Although the class description requests a synopsis or treatment, I’m happiest when we can start from the beginning.
To get a story idea to a point where you can start to create a plot, here is an exercise which I’m going to share:
1. The first step is to find somewhere you can relax for 15 minutes. Play some music or count your breaths. Don’t try to meditate, just let your mind wander.
2. When the time is up, look for the first image that comes into your mind. That’s the one that you will use to create a foundation for your story.
3. Write down the image. Give your character a name if you don’t have one, describe the location, the time of day, the season, and what the character is doing.
Here’s an example: One of my students got an image of a young man sleeping in bed wearing an eye patch. When she expanded it by using the “5W’s,” she discovered that her character’s name was Andrew, and he was in a woman’s bed. It was early morning in the spring and he heard the woman’s husband opening the front door. His dream is to be an actor, and at 30, is afraid of aging out. This is enough information to start building a story.
4. From here we have enough information to answer the 4 Magic Questions of Screen Writing.
Magic Question #1: What is my main character’s dream? Andrew’s dream is to be an actor.
Magic Question #2: What is his worst nightmare? He fails.
Magic Question #3: Who or what would he die for? To be an actor.
Magic Question #4: Does he succeed or fail to become an actor?
My student now has a rough story that she can expand on and create a plot. All good stories are driven by the character and not the plot. Try this exercise with a new story idea and see what you happens.
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz