While surfing the web for ideas and inspiration today, I came across this interesting article on how to create your own endless source of story ideas. Inside, the concepts that it teaches are largely the same. But what this article does differently, is that it actually drills down into the step-by-step details on how to make the inspiration work for you. Who ever thought stealing ideas could be this hard.
One of the tips within this article for generating ideas was this fine gem that caught my eye:
Fun with Plot Summaries
Step #1. Get a bunch of plot summaries for existing stories.
Step #2: Create original writing ideas by changing one thing at a time.
Step #3: Rewrite the plot summary, incorporating your change.
Going a step further, I then found this absolutely amazing site – The Movie Spoiler. This isn’t your typical movie site with a plot summary or sneak preview. It literally tells you the ENTIRE MOVIE, in the form of a written essay. I’m talking something like 2000+ to 4000+ word summaries depending on the movie itself. Using the example of Silver Lining Playbook, the summary is over 3000 words.
The first thought that came to my mind was how cool it would be to generate an entirely new story splicing one of my own stories ideas, and using the body of the plot to flesh out everything. (purely for proof-of-concept work).
Suffice to say that’s how I spent the day, playing with the idea. You just pick a story that follows the same theme, e.g. modern day horror about a husband, wife and strange little kid, copy the entire text into a document and slowly changed the setting first, characters second, plot headlines third then subsequently all the little itty bitty details (unfinished).
Things went really smoothly for me. Basically you are just trying to fit your world into a fleshed out story, instead of coming up with it line by line. Going about it this way, I was able to focus on creating my world / story / scenes and not focus so much on the little stuff e.g. grammar, or details. The trouble with me is I have a bit of OCD, and can’t stand looking at the badly written half-draft. It really slows down my progress when I keep trying to rewrite the whole day.
So, if someone out there has a budding concept that you would like to try out in a full fledged story summary, check out this method. It’s quick, it’s fun, and it gives your a reservoir of ideas to incorporate as well. Regardless of whether you’re a writer, hobbyist or having fun, this is an effective way of turning that creative thought you have into a semi-readable literal work.
Just make sure you change it enough to make your mama proud before you go around showing it off. Also, it really helps if you know the movie/story before hand as well. Otherwise, reading the plot might prove distracting and may sway you away from your own ideas.
P.S: I won’t be uploading any work done in this manner, at least not until I change it significantly enough to be seen as my own work. It would really take a lot of work to change the story enough to make it seem like my own. But then I would have a 3000-4000 word entry, more than enough to form the backbone of any novel.
- Michael Crichton: The Method Writer (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)
- Ernest Hemingway: How To Write Fiction (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)
- Ang Lee: A Never-Ending Dream (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)