It’s quite common for Nollywood filmmakers to have their own stories before commissioning for full blown screenplays. But in other cases, a screenwriter has to start a story from scratch.
Sometimes your head is filled with big ideas and you don’t know how to start. Other times, your creative imagination is completely blocked. It happens to every writer. We can’t be flowing with ideas all the time. We’ve talked about writer’s block and how to overcome them (Read here).
However, story ideas abound everywhere. Here are ten tips that can inspire you to start up an idea for your original screenplay.
#1. Brainstorming and meditation
Meditation helps you relax and think with no distractions. No one is an island. You will always need help. Brainstorm with sources available. You can bounce off story ideas from your family, friends, colleagues and so on. You won’t believe the fountain of ideas you can get from them.
#2. Read other sources
Books, newspapers, magazines are great sources to get story ideas. Also, reading screenplays from professional screenwriters will broaden your knowledge and inspire you to write. In fact, a true screenwriter should be able to boast of reading other prominent screenplays. You can’t grow from not reading. Period!
#3. Social media
We’re in the digital age where you can get information easily through the internet. The world is a global village. There are limitless resources from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc. You can know about anything about everyone in any of these social media platforms in a matter of minutes. Use them to the fullest.
#4. Real life experiences
There’s no rule that says story ideas must be a figment of the author’s imagination. Some great screenwriters are known to do biopics of real people. You can also get ideas from a personal real life experience. Or you can get them from real experiences of real people. However, note that if you must write about other people, then you must obtain rights. You don’t want to be entangled in a messy lawsuit.
#5. Write about what you love
If you love dancing, write a screenplay about dance. If you love to sing, you can write about music. There’s no point writing about something you don’t care about just because others are doing it or it is the trend. You will be surprised the endless ideas you can get by just putting down your hobbies. And you know what? You will enjoy the process because it is what you love.
#6. Write down any idea that comes
No idea is a waste. It may be small. It may even seem irrelevant for what you have in mind. The thing about ideas is they are fleeting. They can disappear as soon as they appear. If you don’t capture them at the moment, you will never capture them again. Even if you do, it will not be the same. So, any time an idea comes into your head, write it down. You never can tell when it will be useful later.
#7. Identify a subject
After meditation and brainstorming, when you have searched for inspiration from other sources, identify a subject. Choosing a subject helps you focus. What do you want to write about? Who is the lead character? Where is the story located? Why do you want to write about this subject? You must be able to answer these questions when you choose a subject.
#8. Start with a small idea
There’s this general belief that the best movies start with big ideas. It’s not really true. We’re often pumped to do big things that we tend to overlook the small but very important ones. It is every screenwriter’s dream to write a blockbuster. And when we think of blockbusters, we think big ideas. Small ideas can turn into big ideas. Start small and grow your story to the height you desire. It helps.
#9. Write a logline
A logline is a brief description of what a movie is all about. It’s usually not more than a sentence. But it can remind you where your story is going as you write. A logline helps entices the interest of the audience. As a screenwriter, you must be able to know how to write a perfect logline for your script. For more tips on how to write a logline, read here.
#10. Apply the ‘what if’ syndrome
What if a family travels to the village for Christmas and gets into a fatal accident on the way? What if a girl goes to meet her online lover for the first time and ends up getting kidnapped? What if a young man is convinced to sell all he has and join his brother abroad only to find out his brother is actually a beggar on the streets of London? You see, story ideas can come from a simple ‘what if’. It works anytime.
Above all, do not be discouraged. Getting story ideas for your screenplay can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to look far. They are right under your nose. All you need is to relax and find them. And in no distant time, your creative cup will be full and overflowing.
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