Notes from a Screenreader: Your Tenth Idea

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Photo via Go Into the Story.

No amount of technique can make up for a weak story. Weak stories are bland and predictable; they treat familiar themes and conflicts in familiar ways. They feel recycled.

A fresh and original take on your story does 75% of the work for you. Give or take. To put the breath of life in your story:

  • Swap out pieces of your logline. Change the genre, the tone, the protagonist, the antagonist, or the setting to something new and different until your story is completely distinct from others like it.
  • Reject your first idea. And your second, and your third, in logline development and plotting. Those are the the obvious ideas, the ones you’ve seen somewhere else. Don’t stop at your fifth idea when your tenth idea is the brilliant one.
  • There is no Average Joe. Better story happens with elevated characters, the ones whose personalities are idiosyncratic and bigger than life. Push on their pressure points to discover original conflicts and steer your story into uncharted territory.

Keep digging until you find the gold.

ANNIE LABARBA 

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

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