Use a practical exercise to play with ideas and create memorable stories
What do all books, movies, TV series, and comics you enjoy have in common? Possibly the fact they are all based on an unforgettable tale, no matter how complex or straightforward the story will be developed visually.
Alejandra Moffat (@alemoffat) has written scripts for features, animation, and documentary films featured in festivals such as the Berlinale or the Havana Film Festival. Here, she will share a simple brainstorming method to get your ideas into an audiovisual project.
Where do ideas come from?
It depends on the individual, of course. However, generally, ideas come from our imagination, desires, personal experiences, and any other stories we read or see.
Alejandra believes that a critical source of ideas is observation. When she visits a new place, she carefully observes the objects in that space. She builds up plausible stories for characters based on the people she sees and the ‘clues’ they give out.
Create habits that lead you to observation
A good exercise is to change your habits so that observing your surroundings becomes more natural. For instance, change your regular route or transportation method.
You can begin by keeping a diary and writing down what you observe. Ideas will originate from the scenes you watch or from anything that comes to your attention. Get to know places near you and explore anything that perhaps does not attract you at first.
When we write, we need to make a list of things we will later connect to the story structure. If you have a brainstorming session, split it into categories such as the following:
As you mix up the categories to develop the story structure, the idea will change entirely and take you to totally different places.
Let’s have a look at two examples:
- Topic: unrequited love. Character: an older person / a child.
- Topic: jealousy. Character: a mature woman / a teenager.
By changing these combinations, you’ll create very different worlds. Focus on the story structure that interests you the most, as you’ll need to immerse in it deeply to develop your story.
In her brainstorming exercise, Alejandra thought of concepts that naturally attract her the most:
- Topic: independence
- Characters: teenager
- Actions: resolve
- Emotions: fear
- Location: school
It will be natural and very right to adapt and make changes to these ideas to work well for the beginning of your own story.
If you want to know more about Alejandra’s work, sign up for her course Screenwriting for Fiction Short Films and learn to develop a film story structure from beginning to end.
English version by: @acesarato.
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