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Screenwriting, Screenplays, Screenwriters - Good Ideas for Stories

The principle for writing good screenplays begins with good idea generation and then the use of structure to extrapolate that idea into a coherent story.

Sources of Good Ideas

a) Ideas that push cultural boundaries work well. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, The Defiant Ones, On the Watefront and so on were all controversial in their time and still very watchable movies.

b) Ideas that tug at the emotions and arouse passions. Imagine the worst thing you would want to happen to you. What are you most embarrassing moments? What causes the most pain?

c) Cathartic events. Protagonists engage in conflict and challenge but the final act is always cathartic.

d) Aspirational and self-actualising events. Make the audience move toward their ideal selves.

e) Fantasy and escapism. Take the audience to a new place, we're tired of this world today.

f) Humour. What are the funniest, most ridiculous, most hypocritical, incongruous, bizarre, irrational moments of life.

g) Education and morality. Teach them something or show them how we should be.

h) Special people. Take us into the world of people we fear or admire. Show us the lives of people who have travelled to places we dare not or cannot go.

i) Romance and love. How sweet it is when we can get it.

j) Different people. Show us how different people live. Compare and contrast.

k) The power of the group. Show us how we are more intelligent, able and greater together than alone.

l) Ambition. Is it pleasure or poison. Does it fulfill or corrupt.

m) Friendship. How real are our friendships. Do we know who our real friends are. What happens when they betray us.

n) Intellectual cross pollination - search the media, information sources...

o) Simply choose a story and write a screenplay. Good ideas will come to you during the project - make sure you capture them.

Structural Templates

a) The classic template is the HERO'S JOURNEY, consisting of 106 sequences with more than 30 in the final act.

The Hero's journey can be reformed in an infinite number of ways:

b) The THREE KINGS, where the three rivals battle it out.

c) The LONE WOLF, where the Hero succeeds without he aid of allies, the Goddess or the Shape Shifter.

d) NO WAY BUT DOWN, where an anti-hero falls from grace and does not recover.

These topics are further discussed and Story Structure Templates and other Managing Creativity and Innovation products are available at

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Kal Bishop, MBA


You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author's name and site URL are retained.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on

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