The Mystery of Ideas


The initial idea – the genesis of any story.

Ideas come and go. Most are crap, but some are real gems. And then you forget to save your gem somewhere. And then the idea disappears, but hopefully not forever.

Last summer, I had that experience.

Years ago, I had an idea for a script. And then I just kind of let it go. Life was busy. Work was hard. So, I moved on. And the idea did too. But, the idea resurrected last summer while taking a screenwriting class at UCLA. And, man, I was excited that the idea came back to me.

Now that I had the idea, I needed to work out the details. Having a vision in your head of a concept is a lot different from filling 100 pages with great storytelling. I had to figure out who my hero was. What he was all about. I had to determine setting. I had to … well…create a new universe out of thin air.

That’s the beauty of writing a story. You can create any world you want. And you have the final say on what happens in your universe. Well, at least in the beginning you do. Oftentimes, your characters will become so three-dimensional that they take on a life of their own, and you’ll just go with it.

The idea for any story will come to you… when it feels like coming to you.

The idea may come to you when you have found inspiration of some sort. Like standing atop a high peak in the Rockies.  Or looking into the eyes of someone you love. Or simply looking out a window and seeing the blue sky.

Or the idea will come to you out of frustration.  This happens a lot. You feel stifled in one way or the other. Whether it be socially. Professionally. Or even spiritually. You delve inside yourself for answers and when you’re searching, you will conjure up a fictional world as a means of understanding the problem, or just simply escaping the problem (only for a moment though – we have to face down our problems, or they’ll never really go away).

Or maybe – this may sound like a cliché – the idea comes while you are in the shower. This happens to me all the time. I have my best ideas in the shower. And I know why. I am not distracted. So, I have time to think. It’s that simple.

Once you have your idea, document it somehow. And then let it grow. Think about it. A lot. I am constantly thinking of my script. I have, what feels like, a million ideas a day for my script. But, I have to scale the ideas back, or I may wind up with too many ideas for one movie.

Once that I knew that I truly had my idea for this current script, I went with it. It has evolved quite a bit since then. I’ve moved settings. I have changed up characters. But, the heart of the story remains the same. It is about a sibling relationship. Being the youngest of 4 kids, I have a good understanding of those type of relationships. And, by their very nature, sibling relationships provide a lot of fodder for great stories.

…let’s start Act 1.

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