It's always better to be writing rather than not, but what do you do when you find yourself stuck without story ideas? While mining real-life people and situations for story ideas can sometimes work, it can also lead to you refreshing Facebook and Twitter over and over again, waiting until inspiration strikes. Well, might I suggest you try your hand at some writing prompts! Creative writing prompts can be incredibly helpful when you find yourself at odds with your ability to generate screenplay ideas. These story ideas can help you to look at your plot and characters from a different perspective. Below are ten screenwriting prompts I came up with to help get any stuck writers out there unstuck.
- Screenwriting Prompt 1: Unsure about character
Take a break from writing your script to write a few diary-like entries from your character's perspective. It can be revealing to write entries based on specific ideas. What does your character want? What are your character's relationships like with other characters? How do they feel about the events that are unfolding in the script?
- Screenwriting Prompt 2: Name that tune
This is a whole activity to help you get unstuck! Find songs that resonate with your script and make a playlist. Pick specific lyrics that you feel ring particularly true to your story and write them down. Once they're written down, expand upon them, write more about who's feeling those things, or why they're important to the story. Doing this can help you to explore and nail down emotions in your writing.
- Screenwriting Prompt 3: What you hope people get from your script
Do a timed 10-minute writing session where you write about what you hope people get from reading your script. Write the entire 10 minutes without stopping, and once you're done, read it over. Does what you're hoping to get across come through in the script?
- Screenwriting Prompt 4: Kill someone off
I know this sounds very intense and like Joss Whedon-esque advice, but sometimes it's important to raise the stakes! Show how dire a situation is by killing a character. Who would you kill? What would your story look like after they die? Write a page or two exploring where the story would go and how it would affect the characters. (This probably won't work for every genre, but for Science-Fiction and Horror, where the stakes are life-threatening, this can be helpful.)
- Screenwriting Prompt 5: Write your logline
This is both a prompt and just genuinely helpful! You need a logline, so, why not write it now while you're having trouble with your script? Thinking in terms of the larger story, and how to express that to others can help when you find yourself getting too caught up in finer details.
- Screenwriting Prompt 6: Just write
Literally, just write anything. Do a timed writing session of 10 or 15 minutes and just write anything as long as it relates to the script. Keep your mind in the world of the script, and then just let it out across your screen. When time is up, read over what you've written and see what you focused on. Is there anything there that can help get you out of the rut you're stuck in?
- Screenwriting Prompt 7: Write alternative scenes
Trouble with a specific scene? Pick three alternative ways to write the scene and write them out. This can help you to examine the scene from different angles and identify what works about the scene and what doesn't.
- Screenwriting Prompt 8: Step away from the screenwriting and journal
Specifically, journal about why and what's making you stuck. Write down steps you need to take to get unstuck. Explore what the problem is via journaling.
- Screenwriting Prompt 9: What would you rather be writing?
Write down what you'd rather be writing. Sometimes this can reveal that you've gone off course of the core intentions of your script. Exploring this in writing can help you suss out how to get back on track, or if you want to take things in another direction.
- Screenwriting Prompt 10: What would viewers expect to happen vs. what would be surprising
First, write about what you believe viewers are expecting to see happen at this particular moment in the script, then explore what would be a shocking direction to take. This can help to shake things up and get you thinking beyond the expected nature of the scene you're stuck on.
Hopefully, these screenwriting prompts can be used to help get any of you stuck writers back on track with your movie idea! Happy writing!