One of the news stories I have been following is about basketball player Gilbert Arenas, a Washington Wizard who pulled a gun on a teammate in the locker room. He appears to be completely unrepentant and has, last I heard, been suspended indefinitely.
The story reminded me of the great line by Raymond Chandler:
“When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.”
There are a number of movies that include a scene of someone entering a room with a gun. It’s often one of the most exciting scenes of the film and the one that kick-starts the action. Consider the diner scene in Pulp Fiction, Tim Robbins taking Robin Williams and his coworkers hostage in Cadillac Man or the diner scene in A History of Violence.
Now do it for your own film. Is there a scene in your film that drags or doesn’t payoff the way you had hoped? What would happen if someone with a gun entered the scene? What would the reaction be, cool and collected or mass panic? Why is the gunman there? Murder, money or something else?
Even if a gunman isn’t right for your script, try this exercise and see what new layers you discover.