Write About Your Obsessions
Take a subject you’re obsessed with – it can be anything from Nazis to computer hacking, sex dolls to bank robbers, fast cars to bird watchers – whatever it is, it must be something that you are obsessed with, something that you either love or hate, something that you either understand well or want to explore, something you find fascinating for any reason. For the sake of this example, we’ll go with Sex Dolls.
Next, pick an existing character you’re either obsessed with or want to explore or understand well – let’s say, Dirty Harry... Do you feel lucky, Punk! Now, keep in mind that when I write Dirty Harry, I’m not talking about Dirty Harry; I’m talking about a character that is inspired by Dirty Harry in one way or another. So are you getting a picture inside your head? A rough, tough lawman develops a relationship with a sex doll... (let that sink in).
Okay, forget Harry and his doll; let’s explore some ideas based on this formula of taking a subject and mixing it with an existing character you like:
Subject = Illegal Street Racing
Characters = Mad Hatter; Al Capone
Plot = An elusive, psychotic, illegal race car driver suffering from a Dissociative Identity Disorder steals the prized supercar of a notorious mobster and races it to the top.
Now... Do. It. Again!
Subject = Computer Hacking
Characters = Sherlock Holmes; Zorro; Rapunzel
Plot = A private detective hires a selfless white horse hacker to track down his missing daughter after a recent picture of her is found circulating the web.
Subject = New York City; Getting Stuck in Elevators
Characters = Santa Claus; Ebenezer Scrooge.
Plot = A reclusive, stingy billionaire with a bad reputation gets stuck in an elevator for two hours with a jolly old man on his way to give gifts to the poor and needy on Christmas Eve.
These are just off the cuff – they’re not loglines or synopses – they’re just ideas. You can use this formula to come up with new and creative ideas for plots that are based on cool characters or subject matter that you find interesting.
Ultimately, it’ll be your job to make sure that the “mashup” fits and that the story is worth telling, but if you write it down, you'll be surprised at how many ideas come into your mind as a result of this tool. Practice makes perfect; try using this approach to write a screenplay for a short film.