82 Creative Writing Prompts and Writing Exercises for Screenwriters
C reative writing prompts are powerful tools that aid you to become a consistent writer. It’s easy to get inspired once, maybe twice about a project or story that means something to you. But if and when that light dims, or you finally finish that project, what’s next? Writer’s block isn’t much of an avenue. Excuses are for amateurs because professional writers write. Writing prompts and writing exercises, give you the momentum to keep going when the mind slows down, or if you’re anything like me, when doubt sets in.
Creative Writing Prompts
Character prompts work for every genre.
I’m going to start with some creative writing prompts that are universal across all writing mediums and all genres. These will be character driven exercises.
Why start with character?
Genre isn’t the seed of a good story, nor are high concepts.
High concept stories can be insightful, mind-bending, and just straight up entertaining, but they are not what makes a compelling narrative.
If you’re not sure who your characters are, or what it is they want, your story may fall apart some time in Act 2, halfway through the novel, or during the first 5 pages of your short. The point is, you may lose the point if your characters are unclear, because in any great story, character suggests plot.
Have you ever tried to write a screenplay, only to find your having a hard time “fitting in” certain details you wanted to have or saying to yourself that you just haven’t “figured it out” yet. When character intention is clear, the story unfolds.
And these upcoming character prompts can be applied to any genre you feel most comfortable writing, which is the best part about them.
But don’t worry, in later sections, I’ll make sure to separate fantasy writing prompts from horror or romance writing prompts for those that just need an extra boost for the genre specific piece they’re writing.
Character Driven Exercises and Prompts
Character writing exercises.
For all of these, try not to think too much. You can edit later. These responses should be purely intuitive. Give perfectionism a rest, and allow yourself to enter the world of your story, even if you’re not sure exactly what is looks like.
So let’s start with some direct questions to ask your character. Try these with every character, antagonists too. But let’s start answering as your protagonist:
- What food would you take to a deserted island, and why?
- Your house is burning. What three things do you save? Why?
- If you could have had a different job, what would you have picked? Why?
- What are you scared of losing?
- First vivid memory of childhood?
- When was the first time you were embarrassed? What happened?
- Is there something you’re hiding from the world? What is it?
- What do you like about yourself? What do you hate about yourself?
- What do you want out of life?
Creating something from nothing isn’t easy. But there’s help!
Embrace your new world, and finish the next set of sentences as your protagonist:
- My last thought before I fall asleep is…
- I believe the reason I was put on this planet is to…
- What breaks my heart is…
- What makes me happy is…
- Worst thing anyone has ever said to me was…
- Nicest thing someone has ever said to me was…
- Most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me, or I, them was…
- My attitude toward god is…
- The person who understands me no matter what is…
- My greatest achievement has been...
Knowing the flavor jam your character prefers, what kinds of flowers they like, or who their favorite band is, may or may not yield any helpful information. But fine, I get it.
Here are some prompts to get the useless information people love to write about. Maybe they actually are relevant and will help your story:
- Zip up or pull over hoodies
- Flannels or silk pajamas...birthday suit?
- Chocolate cake, ice cream, or salty chips
- Hair color, eye color, your other physical attributes?
- What book are you reading?
Now for you as the writer. Answer as yourself:
- Why this story? What is it about this story that makes you want to write it?
- Are you scared to write about something? Why?
- What do you want to express through your story?
- Why should this be a screenplay and not a novel, short story, or take some other form?
- Did you pick the right protagonist to properly express what it is what you want to show?
- Mess around with loglines to distill what your character really wants. Learn to write loglines if you’re unfamiliar.
- What do you think your characters might need?
**Take your characters to a party**
This is one of my favorite exercises because it can lead anywhere. Now that you have some more info about who these people are, throw them in the same room. See what happens.
Who gets along? Who doesn’t?
There can be dialogue, but there doesn’t have to be.
What kind of party is it? Why are they there?
Try these out with no intentions that it will lead to a finished product. Just have fun with it to see what else you can discover.
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Dialogue Writing Prompts
Try just dialogue prompts .
Dialogue exercises are great because they help you understand your characters more. But they also provide a kind of creative spark for story ideas. Now while you’re actually writing them, it’s not good to let your story idea control the conversation. In fact, I wouldn’t think about story at all while you’re writing them. But later, when you go back to take a look at them, you might find some hidden gems that spark more ideas.
Here are a list of dialogue prompts. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know who the characters are yet, or which character a certain line would be good for. Try not to think about how this could fit into your already existing story, or what scene this should belong in, just write:
- “Why didn’t you answer before? I called you three times. Now you’re pretending like nothing happened.”
- “I just have a lot of friends so…”
- “You hate coffee?”
- “It just doesn’t seem normal.”
- “I’ve developed a kind of aversion to it. I don’t know, it made sense at the time.”
- “Have you ever seen it in person?”
- “It’s not that I love her…”
- “How much do you need?”
- “I don’t know! Don’t yell at me. I just found it on the street.”
- “How do I know if you’re lying?”
- “It would be easier if you’d just apologize.”
- “It’s not much of a cause, really. Just a bunch of grown children who weren’t accepted anywhere else.”
- “Why won’t this thing work?”
- “I’m trying, I’m really actually trying.”
- “It’s been weird without him.”
- “It’s not that I’m against it…”
- “I hear something, can you come over?”
- “I guess it’s...art?
- “Where did you go for 3 hours?”
- “What’s wrong with your face?”
You can use these at the party, brainstorming a fantasy novel, rom-com script, or even just to work out that writing muscle.
Though actions sometimes speak a little louder than words...
**Now try writing a scene with NO dialogue. Only action.**
This is helpful if you already know a bit about your characters.
What do they want, what’s stopping them from getting it?
Fantasy writing prompts.
Fantasy prompts are weird. Not because they’re other worldly and actually strange, but because these prompts are usually plot ideas, which shifts us away from character a bit. But of course these can be equally as interesting.
So feel free to write your heart out and go off into some weird dimension with space warlocks, or flying dogs, but just remember to come back to character eventually. In fact, everything above, could of course be used in a fantasy script, novel, or short story. But again, plot ideas and premises, can really get the mind moving.
Let’s jump in:
- In this town, if enough people start to believe something, it quickly becomes true. Except to you.
- An animal has turned into a person.
- An archaeologist is led to a dig in a major city. And what she finds changes the course of her life.
- An archaeologist finds a fossil of something that couldn’t have ever existed.
- A land has been praised with only sunlight. Nighttime no longer exists.
- It’s the 1980s. You’re driving from St. Louis to California. You pull off the road to purchase a map. But the map you bought is a bit misleading. You end up in a city that doesn’t exist.
- You sit down at a coffee shop at the window. Across the street you see a claymation couple walking down the street. No one else seems to notice, except for one man waiting for the bus. You both make eye contact.
- You wake up in a world where you can purchase emotions.
- You’re a child with no fear. You meet a dragon in the woods.
- Every single leader, politician, or otherwise “high-up” government official dies.
More Creative Writing Exercises
Romance writing prompts.
Of course, the character writing prompts and dialogue prompts can work especially well for romance stories. But I want to give a few more options for what to consider when writing a love story.
And these prompts in of themselves, have been used forever. But the way to avoid cliches is in your specificity of character and uniqueness in story. The more specific you get, the more unique, and yet, universal your story will be.
- A couple is vying for the same job opening.
- Two people in an arranged marriage eventually fall in love.
- A student graduates and he and his former teacher run into each other at a bar. It goes a little too well.
- A doctor is falling in love with her recent fling. They decide to get serious and shortly after he is accused of murder.
- A tourist travels to another country and falls in love with a local.
- A toxic relationship kills a romance and pushes the protagonist away. The main character leaves and gets involved with someone new. But now she can’t stop treating them as her ex treated her.
- Two friends who know everything about each other start dating. Was this a bad idea?
- Two people in love can never make it work.
- Opposing politicians hide their romance.
- A psychic and a scientist meet on a blind date.
Prompts to Die For
Horror writing prompts.
Okay, now for the creepy stuff.
- You wake up in a world where you’re a serial killer
- Freelancers accept job offers online. They begin to disappear. One woman survives, but ends up somewhere she can’t seem to come back from.
- A grown man discovers he wasn’t adopted, he was kidnapped. He goes abroad to find his real family but his trip turns into a horror show.
- Mass shooters take over a city.
- A doll equipped with artificial intelligence takes over one family’s home.
- A group of senior citizens at a nursing home get bored and try to connect to their loved ones through a Ouiji board. Unfortunately, they connect to something else.
- A group of friends go to an Escape Room party but only a few make it out.
- A restaurateur slowly poisons his customers over several years, maintaining a seemingly normal life.
- A medium begins to get attacked by those she’s connecting to. Can she escape?
- A couple begins to have the same nightmares that escalate quickly.
Can you blend any of these with the fantasy prompts?
Be as creative with the prompts as you are in your writing.
Give yourself all the freedom you want, because once you start writing, you’ll have to make decisions.
“The real importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing… Constant reading will pull you into a place where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness. It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn’t, what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying (or dead) on the page. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.” — Stephen King
Daily Writing Practice
A good prompt can be anything. A line of dialogue, a character’s strongest desire, an object, a new kind of world, a seemingly stupid question. It doesn’t matter. Something will bode well with your imagination and it’ll just click. And depending on your story, characters, or even time in your life, different exercises may feel more natural.
Allow yourself the time and space for this brainstorm work.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and it often comes fast. So even if you aren’t stuck on the treacherous writer’s block, train yourself to catch it when it comes, so stagnancy and complacency don’t become habitual. You may reap some pretty incredible short-term rewards, but you’ll also be laying a foundation for a potentially, fruitful and consistent career.
Brainstorm Short Film Ideas
So after you’ve worked with some of the above prompts, you may have that hunger. It’s time to start writing! What will you write? Maybe you already know. But considering writing a short film might be a good next step. Short films are great mediums because the turnaround time is much shorter than a feature. And finishing projects, especially early on, creates momentum. So let’s brainstorm some short film ideas!
Up Next: Get Short Film Ideas! →
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60 Story Ideas For Your Screenplay Or Novel
What’s a story idea or writing prompt.
All stories start from somewhere. They begin with a concept, no matter how big or small that concept is. It may be something as complicated as a cowboy who visits the future, or something as small as a story about a horse, but every great story that has ever been told starts from somewhere.
Some of the more classic examples are about the princess being rescued from the dragon or that an unlikely group of heroes ban together to fight evil. Even those simple ideas can be turned into amazing stories that capture the minds of imaginations all across the world – including yours.
The lists in this article are meant to help you generate ideas whether you’re just browsing, have writer’s block or looking to put a spin on an old idea. Consider them writing prompts.
High Concept Ideas vs Low Concept Ideas
Story ideas based on plot.
- A divorced couple must work through their issues as they’re stuck in cabin over a weekend
- A woman is washed ashore on island and finds out humans aren’t the only race here on earth
- A trained assassin is forced to kill someone connected with their past
- An teen just learned that they were adopted
- A prince was cursed to be a dragon and his kingdom wants to kill him
- A child just witnessed their father murder their entire family
- Three kids decide to explore the local area’s haunted woods only to find out that ghosts are the least of their problems
- A witch had her powers taken from her long ago, but she just found a way to restore them
- A couple who met online is going to meet each other for the first time
- A blacksmith just discovered he accidentally made a magical sword
- A girl falls off a boat and believes she’s going to drown but she portals to another world
- A soldier must choose between returning back to his family who needs him or staying in the army and doing his duty
- The President’s child is kidnapped by aliens who demand the United States’ surrender
- In the future, earth is unlivable and the only ship with human survivors crash land onto an unknown planet
- Earth was just merged with another, hostile, magical world
- The spokesmen for a kingdom was sent to negotiate with their enemy
- An ancient vampire has just awakened and starts turning dozens of humans into vampires
- The black plague spreads across the world again
- A nerdy girl just discovered time travel and gets stuck back in the time of the dinosaurs
- A Russian spy falls in love with an American CSI agent, but neither know the truth
Story Ideas Based On Twist Endings
- A husband just learned his wife was cheating on him – with his own father
- A happily married couple go on their honeymoon, but find out neither are human
- A mermaid falls in love with a man, only to find out he’s actually a vampire
- A prince goes to save the princess from the dragon, but the princess doesn’t want to be saved and the prince viciously murders the dragon, her friend
- A soldier takes down an entire terrorist organization, only to find out that one of them is his relative
- Aliens attack earth but we fight back and beat them into submission. This restarts slavery and almost every household owns an alien slave
- In a post apocalyptic Earth, people must fight for survival, only to wake up and discover they’ve been trapped in a video game for decades
- A writer discovers they have the power to make anything they write become real, only to accidentally create the world’s worse villain
- A mass storm is predicted to soon wipe out most of the coastal cities in the US, but it’s soon discovered that it’s not really a storm; it’s actually the tears of a giant who just woke up
- A country boy is close with his favorite horse, only to learn that the horse has really been a woman stuck in her horse form all this time
- A serial killer sneaks in a house to slaughter a family, but this family are actually trained assassins and the serial killer is killed
- A girl visits her father in prison and the father admits that he covered for her and that the cops will never catch her for what she did
- A boy learns he can teleport anywhere on Earth he wants, but he ends up in the office of someone in the government who plans to assassinate the President
- A group of sirens lead sailors to their deaths on an island, but they’re actually saving the lives of other innocent people on ships because the sailors they kill are murderous pirates
- A druggie’s friend tries to get them to stop drugs, but they don’t, so the friend leaves. That night, the druggie takes more and see a man who tells them, “You’re the only one awake. You have to save them. All of them.”
- A girl is doing her makeup in the mirror and posting pictures on Instagram, when someone shouts at her from the other side of the mirror
- A witch is captured and burned at the stake, but uses the last of her power to protect her family, who were about to be killed next
- A princess is going to be betrothed to a man she doesn’t want to marry, so she murders her parents and takes over the kingdom
- A man was just released from prison, but the person who originally set him up, murders him that night
- On her wedding day, the bride is extremely nervous, so nervous, that she accidentally changes into a werewolf in the middle of the ceremony.
Story Ideas Based On Kid Themes
- A dog was dropped off and now searches for his perfect home
- A class is on a field trip to a local cave where they discover a journal that takes them back in time
- The utensils inside a house come awake at night and they have to find a way to convince the humans to keep them when the humans move
- A young girl wins a day with her favorite celebrity
- A kid wakes up one day and his pets can speak to him
- A group of misfits are determined to win the talent show this year
- Santa’s elf is in trouble and needs a little girl’s help to get back to the north pole
- A girl discovers a dragon egg in her back yard
- While swimming in the ocean, a young boy is saved by a mermaid
- A boy and his dog discover a spaceship and sneak aboard just as the ship takes off into space
- A girl joins a martial arts school and beats everyone there on her first day
- A kid’s cat learns how to fly
- In his dreams at night, a young boy can visit any place on earth he wants
- In music class, a girl discovers she has music magic
- A boy and a girl who don’t like each other get the two lead parts in a school play
- A girl visits her horse one day but there’s a unicorn in her barn
- A girl drops out of dance class to join basketball
- One day, a boy is visited by someone in history that he admires
- A boy and his mom go on a road trip together across America
- Two sisters go camping with their family for the first time
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Character, Plot & Theme
Find your next big idea with these screenwriting prompts and story sparks.
Here are some more blog posts on screenwriting ideas, writing prompts and more:
- Romance story writing prompts
- Horror story writing prompts
- Christmas story writing prompts
- Fantasy story writing prompts
- Thriller story writing prompts
- Mystery story writing prompts
- How to get ideas for your next movie
- Writing prompts based on plot type and theme
About Jay Carver
Jay Carver is a screenwriter, director and producer. Through his production company J-Style Films, he has done work for companies such as Turner Broadcasting. In the past, he has worked with Hollywood actor Omari Hardwick and won several film festivals including "Best Director".
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what about a girl and a boy and they loved each other.- but they found out they they where related not by blood but through marriage .
Great start, think about what happens before and as a result of that?
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10 Ways to Create One-of-a-Kind Script Ideas
Coming up with script ideas can be a huge challenge, but hopefully these tips will get those creative juices flowing..
Being stuck as a screenwriter is one of the most frustrating parts of the creative process. Whether it be writer’s block or a lack of inspiration , as writers we all have points where we don’t know what direction to go in next.
Fear not. We’ve got a solution (or ten) to help you with that. Inspiration is truly at your fingertips. You just need to know where to look for it to create that one-of-a-kind premise, fascinating character, or exceptional plot point for your screenplay.
Bookmark this page for when you need creative inspiration while writing your next feature film, pilot, or spec script. These are ten sources of unique plot, character, and premise inspiration to help you generate unparalleled script ideas.
Change One Thing About A Film or Show That You Love
You may have heard that execs look for something they’re familiar with but that’s also different to offer audiences something fresh they’ve not seen before. This is a way to generate an idea like that.
A key point is to write from inspiration from a movie or a series that you love. Your passion and joy for the premise, characters, or genre will come through. We’ll use Supernatural , one of my favorite shows, as an example. Here are some aspects to consider altering to make your script idea fresh and new:
- CHANGE THE SETTING (Example: Supernatural in space.)
- CHANGE THE TIME PERIOD (Example: Supernatural in the Victorian era.)
- CHANGE THE GENRE (Example: Supernatural as a western.)
- DIVERSIFY THE CAST (Example: Supernatural with women of color as the leads. Some more diversity ideas here .)
- TELL THE STORY FROM ANOTHER CHARACTER’S PERSPECTIVE (Example: Supernatural from the demons’ point of view.)
Truth is truly stranger than fiction, which is why the news of the day can provide some of the best fodder for plot and character inspiration. An example of a successful show inspired by current events is Apple’s hit series The Morning Show , which explores the #MeToo movement amid world events.
Create an archive of news articles so that you have a pool of ideas to draw from for inspiration. If you’re on an iPhone with the News app, you can bookmark and save articles that you find interesting. Use a Google Doc to copy/paste URLs and make notes of what intrigues you about each news story. Just in case articles are deleted later, screenshot them and save them to a folder on your computer or phone.
Ah, the trusty ole writing prompt. Even if you don’t write a script directly from a prompt, they’re effective in getting your creative juices flowing when you allow yourself to write freely with no judgment. Check out these links to spark your creative mind with a writing prompt:
- WEBSITES: Try some random writing prompt generators like this one from The Narrative Arc , or check out ScreenCraft’s story prompt lists .
- INSTAGRAM: @writing.prompt.s and @writing.prompts.re are great if you want to peruse daily writing prompts on Instagram.
- TWITTER – Want daily and hourly writing prompts? Then follow @howboutyouwrite and @magicrealismbot on Twitter.
A Memory That You’ll Never Forget
Your life experience is a rich field to harvest ideas from for your screenplay. Using a memory as inspiration for a premise or scene is an effective way to infuse feeling and depth in your script. You’re able to craft the experiences of the character(s) in a way like no other writer because you have felt what they’ve been through.
Midnight Mass is a great example of how this is successfully done. The limited series is very personal to writer/director Mike Flanagan because it speaks to his personal experience of religion and alcoholism.
Oftentimes, writing from your memories and personal experience will feel extremely vulnerable. You’re baring your soul, and it is that vulnerability that helps you craft the details of a story, dialogue, character development, and subtext of a scene because you’re offering the experience from having lived it. That makes for an unprecedented script idea.
Document Your Dreams
Dreams are singular to each person, which is what makes them such incredible inspiration for an original story. Ever heard of a director named James Cameron ? The ideas he receives from his dreams inspired him to create blockbusters such as Terminator and Avatar .
Use your dreams as screenplay inspiration. Keep a log of your dreams in a journal or put them in a Google Doc to be able to access and search any time you think one of your dreams could fit into a script you’re working on. If you’re an artist like Cameron is, sketch or paint memorable visuals of your dreamscapes to inspire you.
Channel Your Passion
Tuning into what you’re passionate about is how you can craft a script that’s personal to you that only you can tell. There are no two people that are passionate about the exact same things in every respect.
What is something that makes you light up when you talk about it or that you could talk about for a long time? You can ask a good friend or your partner if you’re not sure. It could be space exploration, scuba diving, or chess. Another way to hone in on what you’re passionate about is to look at what makes you angry in the world today. Anger is where your passion lies. It highlights what you care deeply about. There is a fire in anger that you can use to fuel your creativity.
The first step is identifying what you’re passionate about, which will give you a topic to focus on for a script. The second step is identifying your opinions and perspective on that topic, which is the message and theme for your script’s premise.
A Family Story
Every family has a history, and that means every family has stories to tell. Funny, heartbreaking, embarrassing, dramatic. There are innumerable experiences you, someone in your family, or all of you have experienced together that can be the seed to grow your next script from.
It could be the way your parents met. How your family immigrated to another country. How your family business started. How your family coped with a tragedy. Discovering something unexpected about a family member. How everyone has kept a family secret. These are all personal experiences to you and/or your family, which is what makes them unique – and you supremely qualified to write about it.
Some examples to inspire you: The Big Sick is based on Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon ’s real-life courtship before they married. The Farewell is based on the way that filmmaker Lulu Wang ’s family coped with her grandmother having a short time left to live.
Your Current Struggles
Syd Field said it best: “ All drama is conflict. Without conflict, you have no action; without action, you have no character; without character, you have no story; and without story, you have no screenplay .”
What you struggle with in your everyday life is conflict, and there is a story in there. Although your everyday struggles might seem like nothing of importance to you, it might foster empathy in others to see a side of life they don’t know or help someone feel not alone in seeing a story about struggles similar to their own. What do you personally struggle with in your life? Was there a time in your life when you had to overcome a certain situation or condition? Use it as inspiration for a script.
As an example, Maid is based on a true story. It offers a raw perspective into a single mother’s life as she struggles to create a safe home and life for herself and her daughter while coming to terms with domestic abuse. There are no big explosions, superhero action sequences, or anything flashy. Its focus on the everyday struggles of a single mother and the gritty, heartbreaking details of it are what make it unique.
What Do You Love To Watch?
What’s your favorite movie? Series? Genre? Write something YOU want to watch. Don’t worry if it’s just like your favorite film or TV show. Give yourself the freedom to allow it to start that way, then rewrite. It can start as a fanfic and then evolve into something all its own. Chances are if you wish there was more of a certain kind of story out there, there is someone else that does, too, and they’re your audience.
Your personal tastes are one of a kind. Start with what makes your heart sing. Too often writers get concerned with what others want to see rather than tuning into their own hearts. Writing a script based on what brings you joy will help keep you from getting burnt out. As writers, we’re creators. If you want to see a particular kind of film or show, you have the power to create it.
No, really. Hear me out on this one. Although Twitter is often the go-to time waster for screenwriters avoiding the blank page, there is a goldmine of inspiration to be found there. Scroll tweets with a purpose! Find threads that tell a story to inspire you. You may even find one that’s so fully fleshed out, the story is outlined perfectly. Feature crime drama Zola was created from a viral Twitter thread . Character and plot inspiration are abundant on Twitter.
The way people write tweets and articulate their views can help you develop a character. Looking to craft a more well-rounded character than the one-dimensional real estate agent you’ve created? Click on realtor hashtags and find an actual realtor on Twitter. A peek at their “likes” will give you insight into their personality, which you can use as inspo. A great account to follow is @censusamericans . It tweets the backstory of a real American every hour. You can also use the description of each person as a writing prompt.
Hopefully the above will give you plenty of sources of inspiration that you can draw upon and come back to as you write. These can provide solid script ideas for you to use in your screenplays, and they can also be valuable creative exercises that lead you to where you need to go. Screenwriting is not linear, and sometimes all you need is to distract your intellect to allow your creative mind to flow.
Wielding her broadsword is a favorite, both on and off camera.
Connect with Joanna on her website , Twitter , and Instagram .
Regular Deadline on March 15th, 2023
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66 Screenplay Ideas: The Ultimate Inspiration for Your Next Script
Are you looking for a story idea for writing your next short story or blockbuster movie to help you break through the film industry? Are you an aspiring screenwriter staring at a blank page in search of writing prompts and inspiration for your next movie script? Look no further!
I have compiled a list of screenplay ideas in this blog to help you beat your writer's block, generate ideas, spark your imagination, and help you start writing. From romantic comedies to action-packed thrillers, there is something for every genre and style.
Whether you're a seasoned screenwriter or just starting out, this carefully curated list of high-concept ideas will help you in the creative process, get your creative juices flowing, and elevate your story ideas to new heights.
Screenplay Ideas And Story Ideas To Beat Your Writer's Block
A high school basketball team has only one season to win the state championship before the school board cuts the program.
A high school football team has to overcome internal conflicts and external pressure to win the big game against their long-standing rival.
A celebrity must confront the true cost of their fame when a social media scandal threatens to destroy their career and personal life.
A struggling young tennis player must win a high-stakes tournament to pay off a debt to a ruthless bookie.
A motocross racer must overcome a career-ending injury to compete in the most dangerous race of his life.
A professional wine taster loses her sense of taste and must navigate a world without flavor.
A professional escape artist is kidnapped and must use his skills to break free from his captors.
A forensic accountant discovers a massive financial fraud within her company and must navigate the world of white-collar crime.
A college track and field team must win its conference championship or lose funding due to budget cuts.
A group of friends must confront the true cost of their online actions when a social media account is hacked, and their secrets are exposed.
A secretive government agency hires a cryptographer to crack a code that could save the world from a terrorist threat.
A parkour athlete must use his skills to escape from a building when an earthquake strikes and traps him and his family inside.
A ghost tour guide discovers that the ghosts she's been leading tourists to are not just legends but are haunting the town.
A washed-up boxer takes on one final fight to save his family's gym from foreclosure.
A private detective is hired to investigate a seemingly mundane case of a stolen necklace but discovers a much larger conspiracy.
A professional gamer is accused of cheating and must clear her name to continue competing or risk losing everything.
A fire investigator is called to a crime scene where a serial arsonist leaves clues that hit too close to home.
A private detective, who's never lost a case, must solve the murder of their partner before the killer strikes again.
A young inventor who creates a machine that can bring people back from the dead must decide if using it on their deceased loved one is worth the risk.
A professional snowboarder is caught in an avalanche and must find a way to survive in the cold with limited supplies.
A high school wrestler must navigate the cutthroat world of competitive wrestling to earn a college scholarship.
A scientist is on the verge of a breakthrough in cancer research but must race against a rival researcher who threatens to steal their findings.
A ghostwriter is hired to pen the memoirs of a reclusive celebrity, but the deeper she delves into their past, the more dangerous the situation becomes.
A scientist discovers a way to time travel and accidentally changes the course of history.
A hitman discovers their next target is their long-lost sibling.
A retired football star must come out of retirement to save his former team from bankruptcy.
A retired superhero must come out of retirement to save their city from a new villain who threatens to destroy everything they hold dear.
A group of friends discovers a mysterious social media platform that promises to fulfill their wildest desires, but as they participate in its dark rituals, they must confront the true cost of their desires.
A doctor secretly performs illegal procedures on the black market for extra income.
A mixed martial arts fighter must win a high-stakes tournament to pay off a dangerous loan shark threatening his family.
A con artist who has one week to pull off the biggest heist of their life to save their partner's life.
A young, ambitious lawyer discovers that their firm has been involved in unethical and illegal practices and must decide whether to blow the whistle or risk losing their job.
A travel blogger is stranded in a foreign country during a coup and must navigate dangerous political turmoil to return home.
A young athlete faces intense pressure from their parents and coaches to succeed at any cost and earn a spot in the Olympic team.
A soldier must protect a young girl who is the key to stopping a deadly virus that has devastated the world.
A marathon runner must battle the elements and overcome personal demons to finish the race of a lifetime.
A historian discovers a long-forgotten conspiracy that could change the course of history.
A woman must choose between her duty as a police officer and her loyalty to her family when her brother becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation.
A deep sea diver is sent to investigate a mysterious object found at the bottom of the ocean and uncovers a shocking secret.
A professional soccer player must overcome a career-ending injury and personal struggles to make a comeback and win the World Cup.
A magician's assistant becomes embroiled in a murder mystery after his boss is found dead on stage during a performance.
A young woman creates a fake social media persona to escape her mundane life, but when the persona takes on a life of its own, she is forced to confront the consequences of her actions.
A young female boxer must fight to the top to pay for her sick mother's life-saving operation.
A young woman with a terminal illness sets out on a bucket list adventure to make the most of her remaining time.
A private investigator is hired to investigate a murder, only to discover that the victim is not dead.
A high school soccer team must rally behind their star player, who is facing deportation to his home country.
A group of influencers must confront the toxic culture of social media when they participate in a challenge that risks their safety.
A female racecar driver must outsmart her male competitors to win the Indy 500.
A cancer patient is faced with deciding whether to undergo experimental treatment, which may save their life but has unknown risks.
A paramedic must make a chain of life-saving decisions amid an immense disaster.
A woman discovers that her dreams are glimpses into an alternate reality, and she must find a way to prevent a catastrophic event from occurring in both worlds.
A man wakes up in a world where no one recognizes him, and he must figure out what happened to his old life before it's too late.
A woman must navigate a dangerous criminal underworld to find and save her missing sister.
A man discovers that he has the power to rewind time using his TV remote, but he soon realizes that changing the past has disastrous consequences for the present.
A firefighter must confront the long-term health effects of their job after years of exposure to toxins and chemicals.
A man must overcome his addiction to gambling to save his family from financial ruin.
A surgeon must navigate the high-pressure environment of a busy hospital and the ethical dilemmas that come with life-and-death decisions.
A group of friends on a road trip must survive a night in the wilderness after their car breaks down, but they soon realize they are not alone.
A detective with a dark past is assigned to investigate a series of murders that seem connected to their past.
A group of strangers is brought together for a mysterious job opportunity, but they soon realize their employer has a sinister plan.
Scientists invent a machine that can read people's thoughts, but they soon realize that this power comes with great responsibility.
A young couple's relationship is tested when they find out one of them has been secretly live-streaming their private moments for money.
A group of soldiers must fight their way through a war-torn city to deliver a crucial message that could save thousands of lives.
A woman must protect her daughter from a dangerous cult that believes the girl is the key to their salvation.
A couple's relationship is tested when they're trapped in their apartment during a hurricane and must confront the issues that have been simmering beneath the surface.
A group of prisoners is trapped in their cell block during a riot, and as they fight to survive, they must confront the issues that led them to a life of crime.
In conclusion, writing a screenplay can be an exhilarating yet daunting task. The road to success as a screenwriter can be long and challenging, but anything is possible with the right inspiration, dedication, and hard work.
This list of script ideas aims to give you the creative spark and guidance you need to bring your story ideas to life. I hope these screenplay ideas have inspired you to embark on the exciting screenwriting journey.
Frequently Asked Questions About Screenplay ideas (FAQs)
What is a screenplay idea.
A script idea is a story's basic concept or premise that a writer wants to develop into a screenplay. It's the foundation upon which the entire script is built.
How do I come up with a Screenplay idea?
There are several ways to come up with a script idea. You can draw inspiration from your everyday life, personal experiences, current events, news stories, books, short films, the works of fellow writers, or even your imagination.
What are some tips for developing a Screenplay idea?
To develop a script idea, it's essential to identify the genre you want to write in. Then, flesh out your idea by creating a logline, outlining the main plot points, developing the characters, and start writing the first draft using screenwriting software .
How many script ideas should I have before I start writing?
Having several script ideas before starting to write is a good idea. This will give you the flexibility to choose the story idea you feel most passionate about and have the most potential to become a successful script.
How do I know if my Screenplay idea is good?
There is no definitive way to know if your script idea is good, but you can get feedback from other writers or readers or test it out with a small audience.
Can a Screenplay idea change during the writing process?
Yes. A script idea can evolve as the writer develops the story and characters, and it's essential to remain flexible and open to changes that may improve the script.
How do I pitch my Screenplay idea to a producer or agent?
To pitch your script idea, you should have a strong logline and a well-developed pitch highlighting your story's unique and marketable aspects. You can then submit your pitch to producers or agents through a query letter or in-person meeting.
Can I use multiple Screenplay ideas in the same script?
Yes. Many successful films incorporate multiple story ideas and storylines into one script. However, ensuring the story ideas are cohesive and complement each other well is essential.
Can a bad Screenplay idea become a good script?
Yes. A seemingly bad script idea can become a great script with the correct execution, character development, and plot twists.
Should I focus on a current trend when developing a screenplay idea?
Awareness of current trends is essential, but following them is unnecessary. Focusing on writing a unique, compelling story that resonates with audiences is often more critical.
Can I recycle a Screenplay idea if it was rejected previously?
Yes. Revisiting a rejected screenplay idea and making revisions or improvements is possible. However, ensuring that the revised idea differs significantly from the original and does not infringe on any copyrights is essential.
99 Captivating Character Backstory Ideas To Craft A Memorable Cast
75 angst prompts for crafting compelling stories.
How to Generate Great Script Ideas – 5-Step Guide
Generating Script Ideas – 5 Top Tips
Whether you’re sitting down to write your first script or are an experienced writer writing your tenth screenplay – where you get your script ideas from can be tricky.
There are a number of easy ways to help get your creative juices flowing when it comes to finding your initial story ideas.
The 5 tactics below will help kickstart your potential script ideas – that initial first stage in the screenwriting process that can often feel the hardest.
So: where to start?
1. Script Ideas from News Stories
News stories can be a great way of sourcing script ideas. From the stories that are dominating the headlines to a small article hidden below the headlines.
So what to look out for?
If there is a story that captures your imagination then bookmark it.
- Is there a theme running through this news story?
Contemporary audiences seek films that say something meaningful about the world they are living in.
A script idea based on a hot news story could be a shortcut to finding an audience for your script and a place for it in the marketplace.
Why would this make a good movie?
You might have found an interesting story. However, can you translate this relevant news story into a story that makes sense for it to be told in a cinematic context?
- Is there an identifiable protagonist in this news story?
- Are they an interesting and original character ? And if there isn’t one already, who could it be?
- Is there a goal for that character to achieve and an obstacle to achieving that goal?
- Does the story have an identifiable narrative arc and if not can you give it one? Is there a beginning, middle and end to the story?
Finding a topical news story for your script idea can feel exciting. In a sense, it has done a lot of the work for you in terms of its theme and its marketability.
However, it’s important to remember that there needs to be much more than just a story and theme to justify existence as a cinematic feature.
Is there an engaging narrative and perhaps most importantly, who are the characters that lead this story?
2. Script Ideas from Public Domain Stories
Public domain stories are stories that are not protected by intellectual property laws, including copyright, trademark, or patent laws.
This usually applies to materials on which the copyright has expired.
- In the United States that means any works published before 1923 or works published before 1964 (when new copyright laws were enacted) for which copyrights were not renewed.
- For any works published after 1977 (after The Copyright Act of 1976) the copyright will expire 70 years after the author’s death.
That does seem like a while to wait. Which is why turning to old or classic stories, on which the copyright will have expired long ago, is a good idea.
Obviously the most famous works on which the copyright has expired will have already been turned into movies, possibly multiple times.
For example, DRACULA, HAMLET or PRIDE AND PREJUDICE have all had multiple adaptations.
However, that doesn’t have to stop you.
Could you, for example, adapt the essential elements and themes of the story to a contemporary setting?
This is a technique used quite often by screenwriters and it can help give your script a solid grounding in terms of the characters, themes and narrative.
Disney are famous for taking old stories and re-purposing them.
- ALADDIN is based on a 1706 folk tale called One Thousand and One Nights,
- whilst THE LION KING is heavy influenced by Shakespeare ’s Hamlet.
Those movies are more direct adaptations, with crucial twists on them. There are examples of more subtle and contemporary adaptations.
- CLUELESS is a loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, whilst
- 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU takes its inspiration from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.
You might not think on first glance that these high school movies have grounding in such literary titans.
It’s in part the solid ground of the essential stories, on which they have to build, which is why they are so compelling and memorable.
These classic stories have lasted a long time in the cultural consciousness for a reason. Using them as a basis might help give a robust grounding on which to tell your story.
So start searching that Public Domain .
3. Script Ideas from Your Life and Experience
You might have a unique story to tell yourself. One that comes directly from your experience.
This should be the starting point when thinking of where to source script ideas from.
Your experience is your experience and inherently unique. It will also be potentially an experience that other people share and can relate to.
Audiences respond to honesty and truth. Telling a story that comes from you in an honest and truthful way can be a shortcut to achieving an emotive response from an audience.
Have you had a particular or unique experience that you want to/feel able to tell a story about?
There might be morsels of a story from your life that you feel you need to expand on. Remember that title card you will have seen so often, ‘ Based on a true story’.
You might want to change the character names or a key narrative part of the story. Just make sure you are respectful to those real people involved and of the impact such changes could have.
True stories are the holy grail of what producers are looking for in contemporary cinema. In a landscape full of remakes and sequels an original, unique story is gold dust.
From PHILOMENA to THE BIG SICK to THE FAREWELL, stories based on unique life experience can be the key to meaningful, powerful cinema.
4. Script Ideas from What Makes You Angry
This could indeed be related to the news stories you’re reading, as mentioned previously.
- Are there real world issues that fire you up?
- Are there news stories that speak to a subject that you care passionately about?
- What do you want to champion with the story you tell or what do you want to criticise?
It’s also worth thinking, outside issues as seen in the news, what else makes you angry? Are there behaviours or traits in people that get you riled up?
By perhaps trying to find the source of that anger for you or seeking to understand it, you might come across motivations and underpinnings for your characters.
Your script doesn’t have to be angry but analysing anger can be a good way into psychoanalysing characters, behaviours and actions.
Anger is a powerful emotion and working it into your story idea can be an effective way of channelling that anger in a productive way.
5. Script Ideas from Asking Questions
As a screenwriter, asking questions should be a key part of how you approach your script and your scriptwriting process in general. From who are my characters to what are their motivations?
But asking questions can be a key part of generating your script idea in the first place.
Asking ‘What if?’ is a good way to prompt and probe your imagination.
- What if a global cataclysm caused an mass extinction with only a handful of survivors? (THE ROAD)
- What if there was a medical procedure invented to erase memories of past loved ones? (ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND)
You shouldn’t seek to answer these questions straight away. Start off with a question and explore the potential ways it could be explored.
If ‘What if?’ is your idea then the branches coming off that need to be many. A good question needs a good answer.
You might even argue that to make a truly satisfying story the answer needs to be far more complicated than the question posed.
This way the story will find itself as one rich and deep for audiences to get their teeth into.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Official Trailer #1 - Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet Movie (2004) HD Watch this video on YouTube
There’s no sure fire way to come up with your script idea.
But be patient and attentive to some of the techniques discussed above and you might well stumble across the core idea that will power your script.
If a single one of these techniques don’t work for you then try combining them all! Often the best script ideas take a little bit of everything combined.
A little bit of real life, a little bit of personal experience, a little bit of imagination – all combined to make a compelling script.
Do you have your idea and are ready to start writing your script? Do check out our 30 step guide on how to write a screenplay to help get you started.
- What did you think of this article? Share it , Like it , give it a rating, and let us know you though in the comments box further down…
- Struggling with a script or book? Story analysis is what we do, all day, every day… Check out our range of script coverage services and online screenwriting course for writers & filmmakers.
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1 thought on “How to Generate Great Script Ideas – 5-Step Guide”
5 Top tips are very useful to both upcoming and experienced writers. Somebody may know or may not know this how to generate the script ideas, but these tips gives a good spark to writers to start a good script.
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Aug 9 Short Film Script Ideas
Short film script ideas.
This is a guide on how to come up with ideas for your short films. Below you can find a list of prompts & resources that might help spark ideas.
Your short film script ideas can come from anywhere. There is no right or wrong way to find ideas and turn them into stories.
In the past, I have got story ideas from personal life experiences, watching other films, and of course, my imagination. But how you find your ideas are unique to you!
I also like to have a notepad by my desk to jot ideas down whenever they come. In addition, I make notes on my phone throughout the week. That way, when I need to write something creative, I am never out of ideas.
Keep reading to learn a lot of tips on how to find short film script ideas.
Focus on the Story
Filmmaking is storytelling.
Without a great story, you can’t make a great film.
When you start writing a screenplay, don’t worry too much about the budget or practicals of making the film.
For now, let your imagination run wild.
Write whatever first comes to mind. Whatever genre and story you want to tell. Focus on the story and adapt the script later as you make drafts.
It is best just to start writing and worry about the script format later otherwise, you will never begin.
Short film script ideas are your first point of call when writing screenplays. Don’t start with a feature film script; you will struggle to finish it. Instead, start with short films, 5-10 minutes long, and then you will find it much easier to finish something much longer.
Furthermore, you don’t need to write in script format. At least not for the first draft. Get the story down first and then translate it for the screen.
You can find many online resources that show you how to write in script format. I made a quick video on script ideas you can watch below.
Video Link Here
Real Life Events
Probably the easiest (and most common) way is to take inspiration from things that have happened to you in your own life. You can use the themes and lessons learned from your own life to generate a story idea. It is best not to make it obvious the story is about you and avoid mentioning people’s names. Stay subtitle and take your ideas from a range of places. e.g., emotions, personal problem, a rumor you heard.
You can take inspiration from the world around you. It’s typical for artists to take inspiration and adapt from one another. This may be from watching a film, listening to music, your version of an old fairy-tale or a myth. Traditionally stories are all very similar they follow the same guidelines - romance, horror, and tragedy are all genres that follow the same codes and conventions. Following genre conventions could help you with writing your screenplay.
Your Favourite Film
Watch your favorite film, turn off the audio and study the shots used and how that story is told through images on the screen. Perhaps you can do a modern adaption of your favorite film or implement the stori’s themes into different locations and situations. It’s OK to gain ideas this way, most ideas are not as unique and original as you might expect.
What resources do you have to make your film? List what locations you have access to, what camera/equipment, props, and actors – perhaps create a story around what you have at hand. Try to get into the habit of keeping an idea journal. This way, you will never be caught short - forcing yourself to conjure up a great idea for a deadline.
Books on Screenwriting
Save The Cat By Blake Snyder.
The most famous book on screenwriting, this teaches you a storytelling formula and is especially for those who are writing Hollywood studio screenplays.
Story Robert Mckee.
A highly regarded screenwriting book that focuses on narrative structure, with reference to both Hollywood and world cinema.
On Writing By Stephen King.
A writing memoir by Stephen King is not a scriptwriting book but is good for motivation and inspiration if your goal is to write full-time.
Write about something that has brought you great pain or happiness
Work backward, write a great ending first, then work out how to get there
Find a location first, write various scenarios of what could happen there
Write about a topic you are passionate about, a sports game, a music genre, an art style
Stick to a genre, work within the typical genre conventions - romance, action, horror, film noir
What is your favorite film and why?
What is your favorite book, and why?
What is the most frightening thing that could happen to you? How does your main character react to this
Make a short film based on a feature film idea. The short film is your feature film’s pilot.
Work with what you have access to. What equipment, location, props, and costumes do you own?
Who or what is the antagonist in your story? What is going to hold your protagonist back?
Use the lyrics of your Favourite song as a starting point
Write about something you are dealing with in your life right now. What is on your mind?
Based on a true story - Joy, The Wolf on Wallstreet
Influenced by other films -Star Wars, Kill Bill
Based on a short film - Bottle Rocket, Evil Dead
Based on legends – Mulan, Gladiator
Based on a novel – Dexter TV series, Blade Runner
Influenced by Dreams – Blue Velvet, Inception
Inspired by art – King Kong, Metropolis
The writer’s life – Taxi Driver, Being John Malkovich
Based on a short story – AI, Little shop of horrors
Inspired by Poetry - O brother where art thou
Would I have been friends with my parents in high school?
Back to the Future.
Writing about my time with my friends in New York
How I Met Your Mother
Spending time with my niece during the summer break
My Neighbor Totoro
You Might also like - More Short Film Script Ideas
Want to work in the film industry? My 130 page E-Book has detailed advice on how to find work in the film industry - Find the E-book here .
The comments below are open for discussion!
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Aug 5 how to get a job in the film industry (with no experience).
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101 Best Dialogue and Screenwriting Prompts
TABLE OF CONTENTS
There are many pieces that need to fit perfectly in order to produce high-quality screenwriting. We will focus on developing two crucial aspects in the screenwriting process, and those are the dialogue and setting the scene.
A line has to be provocative enough to inspire a response, so the dialogue prompts bellow do exactly that – they guide you into character and plot development by using dialogue properly.
In addition, the screenwriting prompts will give you a glimpse into a cinematic microcosm that you will need to transform into a cinematic macrocosm.
Dialogue in movies, in theater plays, and in books should have a natural flow. Sometimes it can be deceptively simple, sometimes provocative, and sometimes very straightforward.
Here you can find 40 dialogue prompts that can start the creative process. Think of situations in which a person might actually say these sentences. Then, try to come up with several possible responses. Different responses can give you the opportunity to explore the action in different genres. If you get excited by reading the dialogues – that’s definitely a good sign.
- I need a way, not an excuse.
- Your voice. It’s different. You’re different.
- This was a mistake. I’m not letting you take her off life support.
- I said it first. It’s mine.
- Is this your first time here?
- What are you reading?
- We need to come up with a new strategy.
- You should have come to the funeral. Mother was expecting you. She was very disappointed.
- You always say that you want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but can you handle the truth?
- Imagine you were the master of the Universe.
- Is that all?
- Things haven’t been right between us ever since that night in Aspen. You can’t say you haven’t thought about it. I have. A million times. Every time I close my eyes before falling asleep.
- You will forget about our hugs and kisses because now… now you have no choice.
- I wasn’t sure you remembered me.
- Open your door and your heart. I’m coming home.
- I miss seeing your face every morning. I don’t miss your breath.
- Keep your hands where I can feel them.
- If I wanted a stupid solution to a real problem, I would ask you.
- I don’t want to be alone tonight.
- Please, I can explain!
- This is a very big favor you’re asking. It looks more like a sacrifice.
- Were you careful? Did anyone follow you? A lot is at stake here!
- You weren’t informed because this was way above your pay-grade.
- She is too precious for humanity not to do anything to save her, even if it means risking our own lives.
- We’ve started communicating better after the divorce.
- There is something in her eyes… I’m telling you – she has superpowers!
- Your wife has been in an accident.
- How could you do this to me? I thought you were dead! You let me grieve for so long! I kept thinking about all the thing I wanted to say to you, but never had the chance. How? How could you do this to me?
- Congratulations! You’ll get to meet my highly dysfunctional family for Christmas.
- Why are you doing this? Is my daughter okay? I will pay anything, just please don’t hurt her!
- You pay more attention to the Persian rugs than you do to me. They are just things! They don’t have a soul! But I do! And you’re crushing it with all the force you’ve got!
- I’ve never been abroad. When I get the chance, I would like to visit Dubrovnik.
- I was looking forward to our romantic evening. Why does this wine taste funny?
- I’m afraid I have some bad news. Your source is dead.
- In a fake-news era, truth becomes an imperative.
- Doctor Jones, please come at once. I have never seen anything like this.
- Despite the rumours, I am sure that there aren’t any ghosts in this large Victorian house.
- How long have we known each other? Forever! I would never betray your trust!
- I didn’t mean to kill him! I only wanted to scare him!
- It’s scary to bring a child into this horrible, horrible world.
These prompts assist potential writers to get inspired and try their hand at writing different genres. Being versatile as a screenwriter is important for perfecting the craft. The following prompts set particular scenes, characters, and situations, but it is your inventiveness that will bring these scenes to life.
- Think about your favorite film. Change the ending.
- A dead body is the library floor. The window is wide open and a breeze is moving the curtains. The globe is broken next to the body. A copy of the Bible is placed on the back of the body.
- A woman sits on the edge of a bridge. A man slowly approaches her and talks to her in a low and soothing voice. She responds to his attempt to establish communication. They start talking, and the woman starts crying. He helps her get up. She moves away from the edge while holding the stranger’s hand.
- Two male characters enter a seemingly deserted building. Shortly after the building explodes. The two characters are seen fleeing the crime scene.
- A pilot gets into a futuristic aircraft and leaves many worried faces on the ground.
- A group of actors rehearse on a theater stage. The director isn’t pleased with the performance. He jumps on the stage and starts giving directions to the lead actor. He advises him not to use elaborate gesticulations while acting and be more subtle.
- Two main characters from two different movies meet and have a conversation that leads to one character killing the other one.
- In an apocalyptic world building and cars are left empty and only a handful of pregnant women are roaming the empty streets frightened and deteriorated.
- A person is in his study. The shelves are stacked with books, old maps, and globes. The person is writing on a parchment using his quill. He seems apprehensive. He takes a small knife he uses for opening his letters and he runs the tip of the blade through the candle flame. Then, he makes a small cut and a few blood drops fall on the table. He dips the quill in the blood and as he gets prepared to sign his name at the bottom of the page, black letters spontaneously appear on his arm.
- Three people are riding the elevator when it suddenly stops. One of the people starts panicking as she is claustrophobic. The other person calms her down, while the third one tries to find some help. It becomes obvious that they would spend some time together stuck on the 11 th floor. They start talking, when the woman who is afraid of closed spaces discovers the identity of one of the people there.
- A dinner scene. A large dining table, with different kinds of food and expensive cutlery. The guests are well-dressed and well-rehearsed in etiquette. A senior member of the family announces a change in his will. Everybody on the table is horrified.
- A married couple is having a fight about the wife’s infidelity. Things get heated, and then the husband confesses to having multiple affairs. Suddenly both of them stop talking. There is heavy silence between the two spouses.
- A person who claims to be innocent is interrogated by two detectives in an interrogation room. He is claims that he hasn’t even met the murder victim.
- A man is talking on the phone when a truck crashes into him, causing the car to fall into the abyss.
- A person packs her belongings into card boxes because she plans to move into a new apartment. She finds a photo of her and her best friend. A moment of happiness on her face is quickly substituted for a sad, nostalgic smile.
- A woman is swimming in a pool when suddenly a man in a wet suit attacks her and pulls her down. She is fighting for her life, but the man manages to overpower her completely.
- A helicopter is hovering above a snowy mountain top where some hikers got lost.
- A hacker steals his stepfather’s medical records.
- Terrorists threaten with a bomb unless their demands are met.
- A young student gets a scholarship to study at Harvard.
- A trial scene. The setting is a courtroom. The defense attorney is cross-examining the witness. The scene is emotional because the attorney manages to get the truth from the witness that exonerates her client.
- In the middle of the night a woman runs out of the house covered in blood and screams for help. Somebody broke into her house and killed her husband. All of the neighbors rush out to help her. One of them is the killer, although nobody is aware of that.
- A man takes up dancing because his wife used to beg him to do that. After her sudden death, he decides to honor her wish. The new chapter in his life promises new love.
- A woman is walking her pet in the park. At one point, she drops the leash, and the dog finds a friend in the park. The woman makes a witty remark, which prompts a pleasant conversation between her and a handsome man. He asks for her number so that they could go on a date.
- Many people are attending a funeral. The police are also present at the cemetery.
- A math teacher calls the parents of a gifted boy to suggest a more advanced curriculum.
- A famous composer is shown in the creative process of composing a musical masterpiece.
- A politician is delivering a speech in front of a crowd when a sniper shoots and misses him.
- Young people are singing and dancing at a concert.
- Passengers on a plane start panicking when they learn that there is a serious problem with one of the engines. The flight attendants try to calm them down, but with little success. The plane starts falling and everybody starts screaming and praying.
- A football coach gives his players a hard time for the humiliation they suffered during their last game.
- A fisherman in Norway is casting nets and stays calm in his little boat.
- Five children ride their bikes in the forest when they see something extraordinary. One of them panics and wants to go back and bring his parents, but the other children act in a braver way, as if they were mature enough.
- A birthday party goes wrong when the boy’s father returns home drunk and aggressive.
- A girl writes in her diary about the boy she likes, about the teachers she dislikes, and about the fights with her sister. Suddenly, her sister enters the room, they have a big fight over something trivial, and her sister snatches the diary. She gets angry when she reads a few lines about herself in the diary.
- Soldiers practice before going to war. They are worn out, but still manage to complete the drills.
- An exotic woman enters the caste and catches everybody’s eyes. Nobody knows anything about her, but she seems mesmerizing.
- Supernatural forces frighten tourists because they want to be left alone, in peace.
- A serious man is a visitor at a psychiatric hospital. She starts smiling when he sees one person in particular.
- Turn a well-known tragedy into a comedy by changing the ending and adding elements of a parody.
- A bank robbery ends in blood and tears.
- The child of a renowned cardiologist is kidnapped. The kidnapper asks for the doctor’s heart in exchange for his daughter’s life.
- A history teacher is speaking with the students about Martin Luther King.
- An improv exercise ends horrible when one of the students dies on the stage in the middle of the act.
- A woman wakes up to find herself in a neon world. The sky is pink, the trees are orange, and the grass is purple. Soon she realizes that the events from the previous night led to this unusual and scary experience.
- A man goes into a church wanting to confess something to a priest.
- A patient is lying on the sofa while talking to a psychiatrist.
- This scene is a flashback that you would add to a movie that you really like.
- A man has a nervous breakdown after receiving devastating news.
- A serial killer is planning his new killing while mocking the incompetence of the police.
- A family spend the entire day at the ZOO.
- Three girls are walking on the beach in the morning when they notice a body that has been washed up on the sand. Alarmed, they call the police immediately.
- A dark wizard is summoning the dark forces to help him conquer the world.
- A young painter is painting a portrait of an elegant, wealthy, and mysterious woman.
- Several campers are setting their tents in the mountain.
- A famous TV host is receiving a prestigious award.
- A brilliant detective has been hired to investigate the disappearance of a king’s daughter.
- Human pilots are getting ready to attack alien spaceships.
- An archaeologist finds the holy grail.
- A man enters a British reality show.
- Somebody leaves a black rose at the doorstep of a beautiful woman every day. The woman decides to set up a camera.
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10 Script Ideas You Can Use
Dec 10, 2018 | 0 comments
Having trouble coming up with a script?
Do you need funny jokes?
In this article:
I am going to share 10 script ideas you can use to create your own material.
With the focus on creating original material, it can be tough for the part time ventriloquist or hobbyist to develop something uniquely theirs.
One of the hardest parts for many is the idea.
How do you come up with a script idea ?
Where do you go from there?
How do you write a script that is funny?
First, don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself. No one sits down and writes a funny script. You may develop the idea. You may put pen to paper. That doesn’t mean it will instantly be funny.
A script is a living, breathing entity. It tells a story, but to do so, it needs an audience.
You will find your script will morph over time. You will think of funnier lines and drop others that don’t get a laugh.
The more shows you do, the faster this will happen.
Back to the script ideas…
It helps to start with a bizarre circumstance. Something needs to happen, and the more off-the-wall it is, the greater the comedy can become.
Here are 10 script ideas that give you a direction. Where you take them will be up to your imagination.
(I list the puppet and vent as he – although that was just for writing purposes. Obviously he could be a she.)
1. Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde Scenario: The puppet accidentally hits his head on the microphone stand / table / etc. It shakes it off, but suddenly has a whole new personality. (Ideas: Englishman / Country Hick / Secret Agent / child) He now thinks the ventriloquist is (an employee / police / a money-grubbing bum / an evil villian / Daddy or Mommy) How will the vent help him restore his memory – or will it be? What will happen in the meantime?
2. Charm School: The puppet is learning the fine art of etiquette by taking lessons at a charm school. The problem is, he can’t remember what is proper and what he was told not to do.
Note: He could also be confused because he thought it was a charm making jewelry class – or he loves Lucky Charms and thought he’d be eating cereal.
3. Gambling Problem: The puppet lost all his money. Even worse, he gambled away the vent’s money, house and car. Tries to convince the vent they are better off broke using all types of wacky reasons. So what was the bet he lost? Make it crazy.
4. New Glasses: The puppet got new glasses at the dollar discount store. When he puts them on he is Mr. Magoo blind. Sees things that aren’t there. Confuses people’s sex (he thinks a man is a woman) etc. Maybe he got a two for one deal and the other pair is X-Ray.
5. Thick As Glue: The character was using some new glue to fix something right before he came on stage. Next thing you know, he gets stuck to the ventriloquist. Arm gets stuck to hand, hand gets stuck inside, finally cheek to cheek. How will they get out of this mess?
6. No Day At The Spa: Puppet thinks his wife/girlfriend’s life is easy. Always going to the spa and coming back beautiful. So he tells the tale of dressing as a woman to check it out – and the horrors that lie behind the spa doors.
7. The Time Machine: Puppet claims he built a time machine and can travel backward and forward in time. Unfortunately the dial is stuck on right now. So he keeps transporting himself to the exact present moment. Maybe it then breaks and he transports himself two seconds backward in time and gets caught in a loop. What else could happen?
8. Bad Grades: There have been a lot of “school routines” written over the years. What about using the concept that the puppet’s latest report card was straight Z’s! How could he possibly score so low? What is he even doing in school? Let’s come up with some great excuses.
9. My New Job: Puppet got a job at a restaurant. He is an oven mitt and a dishrag. Naturally he is not enjoying his work.
10. The List: Puppet has written a list of things he will NOT do that day. Most of them are outrageous – followed by one that should be done. When the vent explains he needs to do one of them, the puppet misunderstands and leaves to do the most outrageous.
What is your biggest script writing challenge? Let me know in the comments below:
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This material is copyrighted by servicescape and is designed to be used for writing inspiration. please feel free to use our ideas as a starting point for your next story if you use one of our prompts as a basis for a story, you don't have to credit us, but it would be much appreciated if you do. a simple link to servicescape is the best way to do that. one caveat: please do not publish our writing prompts as-is, in their entirety without attribution. this is not the intended use. want even more prompts as well as writing advice subscribe to our newsletter, writing prompt generator.
125 Screenwriting Prompts to Help You Write Your Next Script
By: Author Paul Jenkins
Posted on November 22, 2022
Categories Filmmaking , Inspiration , Writing
If you’re looking for a way to jump-start your writing, try using a screenwriting prompt. A prompt is a sentence or paragraph that provides a starting point for your writing. It can be anything from a single word to an entire story. In this blog post, we’ve compiled 132 screenwriting prompts to help get you started on your next script!
132 Screenwriting Prompts
- A group of strangers stranded on a desert island must unite to survive.
- A young woman discovers that she has magical powers and is destined to save the world from evil.
- A group of friends embarks on an epic road trip across the American Southwest, encountering adventure at every turn.
- A team of scientists uncovers an ancient artifact that holds the secret to unlocking the mysteries of the universe.
- An intrepid reporter finds herself embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy that threatens to bring down the government.
- After discovering a strange machine in her backyard, a young woman develops the ability to time travel and use her powers for good or evil.
- In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, two rival gangs fight for control over dwindling resources, pitting friend against friend in an endless quest for power and domination.
- Amidst an intergalactic war between humans and aliens, a lone pilot must take command of a prototype starship and lead humanity to victory against overwhelming odds.
- As she struggles to come to terms with her newfound abilities, a young woman finds herself caught up in a deadly race against time as dark forces gather around her, threatening to destroy everything she holds dear.
- Surrounded by enemies on all sides, a ragtag group of rebels rallies together for one final mission: to take down the tyrannical empire and free their people once and for all from its iron grip of oppression.
- A successful businessman discovers a secret passage to a magical land and must take up arms to save the kingdom from the clutches of an evil tyrant.
- A series of mysterious murders in a small town point to a brutal conspiracy that stretches to the top of the government, and only a young deputy can bring the truth to light.
- A young woman with extraordinary mental powers goes on a quest to save her people from persecution and uncover the dark secrets surrounding her hidden past.
- A group of high school misfits discovers they’re powerful demigods who can save the world from an ancient evil.
- After awakening from a coma following a terrible car accident, a man discovers that he has developed dangerous telekinetic powers.
- A young scientist ends up struggling for survival after a series of mishaps causes him to be stranded in the arctic wilderness with no food or supplies.
- A young man who discovers a magical portal to another world must find a way back home before the portal closes forever.
- In a strange new land, a mysterious girl sets out on a daring quest to rescue her parents from the clutches of a villainous warlord.
- Two sisters devise a plan to help their ailing mother make one final wish on her birthday: to move back to their childhood home.
- A scientist has become the prisoner of a terrifying alien entity.
- A young boy with a troubled past turns to the wilderness for solace, only to find that he is not alone in the woods.
- A young woman travels to a small town to investigate strange rumors surrounding the disappearance of a high school girl.
- A mysterious book is buried in the desert filled with cryptic messages that detail a dire future that might be changed with the help of a chosen few.
- A young orphan with no family and no prospects finds a new home with a wealthy man in an ancient castle, but all is not as it seems.
- After a group of teenagers finds a mysterious portal to an alternate dimension, one must find a way home before the portal closes forever.
- A young boy is determined to uncover the truth behind his father’s murder, even if it means putting his own life at stake.
- A journalist finds herself caught up in an elaborate government conspiracy and must use her wits to expose the truth behind the lies.
- A young woman discovers she’s been sent on a secret mission to another planet. Everything goes according to plan until the natives capture her.
- A woman is abducted by a mysterious man who plans to use her in his diabolical experiments.
- A woman attends a dinner party where she encounters a young man who shows her the dark side of her inner psyche.
- The ghost of an old war buddy haunts a young man’s dreams.
- After inheriting a strange, ancient oil lamp, a young couple discovers it’s the key to finding an incredible treasure.
- A young boy struggling to read learns he is the heir to a legacy of magic and must learn to master his powers.
- A woman is confronted by a specter from her past in the middle of the night.
- A group of friends must fend off a group of aliens from a UFO that crashes into their school.
- A young girl must uncover the mystery behind her mother’s death to save her younger brother, who’s in grave danger.
- A series of mysterious deaths in the local town leads to a larger conspiracy that threatens to destroy the small community.
- A gang of teenage delinquents learns more than they bargained for when they stumble across a dark secret that could destroy the world.
- An ordinary man discovers that he’s become the unwilling host of a mysterious and powerful creature.
- An army general must bring together a group of legendary warriors to form a ragtag army to fight an evil regime that threatens to destroy the world.
- A group of friends discover a diary from a young girl who lived in the late 1800’s and find themselves transported back in time to help her solve a mystery.
- A young woman’s recently deceased aunt appears to her in a dream, and reveals that her death was no accident and her murderer has returned to seek vengeance.
- A group of teens discover that their school is actually a front for a strange cult that practices the occult.
- A detective finds himself in a race against time to stop a psychopathic killer who is targeting young women.
- A young man with the ability to communicate with animals must help a pack of wolves fight to save their forest home.
- A strange young woman inherits a run-down mansion and moves in, only to find that the house has a sinister secret.
- A young woman learns that her father, who she thought was a lowly crime scene photographer, is actually a detective who works for a mysterious government agency.
- A young couple on the run from the law falls into the clutches of a horrifyingly strange cult, who force them to play a deadly game of life and death.
- A group of high school misfits uncover a conspiracy that threatens to take over the entire school.
- After a lone survivor of a plane crash is left stranded in the middle of the ocean, he must use his wits to battle a group of bloodthirsty pirates.
- A group of friends stumble across an ancient evil relic, which holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe.
- A group of prison inmates at an experimental prison for the criminally insane learn that it is more than just a prison for their crimes, but an actual gateway into a terrifying alternate dimension.
- A group of friends uncover a secret passage in an old mansion, which leads them to a magical land.
- A street gang in LA are secretly part of an ancient order that must protect the city from evil forces.
- A university student discovers that he is the reincarnation of an ancient pharaoh and must master his powers in order to save the world.
- A group of teens find themselves stranded in a strange cave during a camping trip and must fight to survive against a race of evil mutants.
- A man and his son journey across a desert in search of a rare treasure.
- A young woman finds herself on a strange island after she travels to the Middle East to study ancient artifacts.
- An uptight stage actress finds herself the victim of a curse that turns her into a hideous monster.
- A young boy searches for his father, who went missing several years ago, and ends up in a strange new land where he learns that he is part of an ancient prophecy.
- A young boy learns that he has a deadly allergy to sunlight and must seek shelter in a cave while his parents search for a cure.
- In a strange new land, a young man searches for the legendary treasure of an ancient king.
- Two high school friends discover that they are actually powerful demigods with the ability to save the world from an ancient evil.
- A group of high school misfits discover that they’re actually powerful demigods with the ability to save the world from an ancient evil.
- A young scientist ends up in a struggle for survival after a series of mishaps causes him to be stranded in the arctic wilderness with no food or supplies.
- A board game designer finds out that the monsters, creatures and players he creates in his game are somehow coming to life.
- A strange meteor, which appears to be a fragment of a spaceship, crashes in a small town and unleashes a swarm of deadly aliens.
- A group of friends discover a strange, ancient vault that opens into a magical realm.
- A group of monster hunters must outwit a strange group of monsters and prevent them from unleashing a plague of zombies on the world.
- A young prince embarks on a quest to restore his father to the throne and save his people from a dark curse.
- A group of hikers stumble across a mystical field that leads them to an alternate dimension.
- A group of teens must fight to survive against an ancient evil when they find that their high school is built on an ancient burial ground.
- A group of scuba divers discover a sunken alien ship and are trapped in the wreckage, fighting to survive against the escaped aliens.
- A young man discovers that he has strange telekinetic powers and uses them to fight off a gang of punks who are out to get him.
- A young woman finds herself trapped in a mansion, which is actually a gateway to a strange new world.
- A group of prisoners must escape from a strange, abandoned prison before a mysterious creature hunts them down.
- A young man learns that he is part of a breed of humans who possess strange psychic powers and can manipulate reality.
- A group of high school misfits awaken from a strange sleeping spell to discover that they are now in their 40’s, but still trapped in high school.
- A woman discovers that she is a descendant of an alien race that was banished to Earth thousands of years ago.
- An innocent man is framed for murder and ends up on the run for his life after being targeted by the police.
- A teenage boy learns that his parents are actually undercover agents who fight to keep the world safe from supernatural threats.
- After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, a man learns that he’s actually an angel and that God has given him another chance to save the world.
- After a freak car accident, a man awakens in a strange alternate dimension where he is haunted by demonic visions.
- A group of teenage girls travel to the country for a fun getaway, but end up fighting for their lives against a gang of biker zombies in a small town.
- A teenager learns that he is the reincarnation of a legendary warrior and must fight to protect his town from a horde of demons.
- After being experimented on in a military lab, a man seeks revenge against the army officials who experimented on him.
- A group of college students end up in a remote cabin in the woods that is actually a gateway to another dimension.
- A group of teens are stranded on a strange island with no memory of how they got there.
- In a distant future, a group of colonists discover a planet that leads them to an ancient evil that must be stopped.
- A group of explorers unearth a strange relic which makes them the target of a cult of evil mutants.
- A group of hikers are trapped on a strange island, which is actually a gateway to another dimension where they are forced to fight for their lives.
- A group of boys discover a strange portal which allows them to travel through time to ancient worlds.
- A private investigator uncovers a conspiracy by an ancient cult to destroy the world.
- A group of college students are trapped in a haunted house during an overnight party.
- While exploring a cave, a man discovers an ancient artifact that will grant him immortality and power.
- A group of friends stumbles across a strange amulet, which holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe.
- A group of teens discovers that an ancient curse has caused the entire town to be trapped in an unending nightmare.
- A group of college students on a camping trip stumble upon a strange amulet, which transports them to another dimension.
- A group of enslaved astronauts on a distant planet must fight to survive against an army of space zombies.
- A group of friends finds themselves trapped in a house that seems to be possessed by an ancient evil spirit.
- A group of young adults discovers a mysterious road that leads them to a strange alternate dimension.
- A group of high school outcasts finds themselves trapped in a magical mansion where nothing is as it seems.
- After awakening from a car accident, a woman discovers that she is the reincarnation of an ancient sorceress.
- When zombies attack a small town, a group of survivors must find a way to fight back.
- A group of astronauts finds themselves trapped on a strange and dangerous planet inhabited by strange creatures.
- In an alternate future, a time traveler from the past goes on a quest to find his lost love.
- A group of friends stumble across a strange, haunted house and become trapped inside.
- A regiment of soldiers is forced to fight in a strange new world, where they must find a way to defeat their new enemy.
- A group of friends stumbles across a strange house in the woods, an alternate dimension inhabited by an ancient evil.
- A young woman stumbles upon a strange and powerful amulet that gives her the ability to shapeshift.
- In a strange new world, a group of high school misfits must fight to survive against an ancient evil.
- After a strange meteor crashes to Earth, a group of teenagers is shrunken down to miniature size by an alien intelligence.
- A group of high school students finds an ancient artifact that transports them through time to the country during the American Revolution.
- After a freak accident, a group of teenagers finds themselves trapped in a strange parallel dimension.
- An alien enlists the help of a group of humans to fight off an invasion of his homeworld by an ancient evil.
- A group of teens must figure out how to defeat an ancient evil that has come back to life.
- A group of teens is trapped in a bizarre alternate dimension where they must find a way to defeat an evil god.
- A teenage boy discovers that he has strange telekinetic powers.
- A group of explorers discovers an ancient spaceship that is a gateway to a strange alien world.
- After stumbling across a strange, ancient amulet, a group of teenagers stumbles upon a strange and dangerous world.
- In a strange future, a man fights to survive against an army of mutants.
- During an archeological dig, a group of researchers stumbles across a strange relic that holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe.
- A group of hikers finds themselves trapped on a strange island that is a portal to an alternate dimension.
- After a strange accident, a group of college students is thrown into a strange and frightening alternate dimension.
- On a distant planet, an alien race is forced to undertake a desperate and dangerous quest through time and space to save their home world.
- A group of survivors must fight against a gang of berserkers in a strange, alien world.
- A group of archaeologists unearths a mysterious and powerful relic.
- A group of shipwreck survivors awakens on an alien world, where they must find a way to survive against a strange, new enemy.
- After being exiled from his home, a man finds that he is the only hope for a group of escaped slaves.
Cinematic Storytelling – Why Should You Care?
When you hear the word “cinematic,” what comes to mind? Chances are, you think of movies. And you’re not wrong. The word “cinematic” is derived from the Greek word “kínema,” which means “motion.”
But cinematic storytelling is about more than just movies. It’s a way of telling stories that engage the reader on a sensory level, immersing them in the story’s world in a way that traditional prose can’t match.
Cinematic storytelling isn’t new. Its roots can be traced back to ancient Greece, where playwrights like Sophocles and Euripides wrote plays designed to be experienced as much as read. But in recent years, there’s been a resurgence of interest in this style of writing, thanks in part to the success of books like Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy.
If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve been experimenting with cinematic storytelling without even realizing it. But what exactly is it? And why should you care? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Cinematic Storytelling?
At its heart, cinematic storytelling is about creating an immersive experience for the reader. It’s about transporting them into the world of your story and making them feel like they’re right there in the thick of things.
One of the best ways to achieve this is through sensory details. Instead of simply telling us that a character is sad, you might paint a picture of them slumped in their chair with their shoulders hunched and their head in their hands. You might describe the sound of their sobs or how the tears make their cheeks damp and cold.
Vivid language like this engages our senses and allows us to empathize with characters on a much deeper level than we could if we were reading about them on the page.
Another important element of cinematic storytelling is pacing. Camera angles, shot selection, and music choices control movie pacing. In writing, though, it’s all up to you. And that can be both good and bad news. On the one hand, it gives you the complete creative freedom to experiment with different pacing techniques until you find one that works for your story. On the other hand, it can be easy to get carried away and write too quickly or too slowly for your readers (especially if you’re not used to writing in this style).
A good rule of thumb is to start slow and gradually increase the pace as your story progresses. This will give your readers time to adjust to your writing style and become fully invested in your story before things start heating up.
You should also pay close attention to your sentence length and structure. Vary both of these things up as much as possible so that your readers don’t get bored or lost in dense blocks of text. Instead, give them short sentences full of action and suspense that will leave them eager to discover what happens next.
A Genre of Immersion
The simple answer is that it works. In today’s fast-paced world, people are constantly bombarded with information from all sides—most of them have very short attention spans. If you want your stories to stand out from the crowd, you need to find ways to grab people’s attention and keep them hooked until the very end.
Cinematic storytelling does both by immersing readers in your story world and keeping them engaged with interesting characters and exciting plot developments. If that sounds like something you’re interested in doing, give it a try! There’s no harm in experimenting with different writing styles—you never know when you might stumble upon one that works for you (and your readers).
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Screenwriting prompts for creative writers.
In need of a new idea? Writing prompts are ideal for writers ready to jumpstart their creativity. Look no further. Use the below for screenwriting prompts, novel writing prompts, short film ideas, and the like!
How to use a writing prompt
Grab a notebook or open a new doc on your computer. Copy the writing prompt to the top of the page. Woo! It’s no longer blank. That’s about half the battle half the time.
There are no rules. Use the writing prompts in whatever way they inspire you. Think in terms of…
- A bit of dialogue or a conversation
- A complete scene
- Describing a setting
- Describing a character in depth
- A personal story or essay
- A short story
- A short film
- An original spec
- A full feature
Whatever you want! The point is to get the ball in motion. Let’s have some fun and do this!
Whether you use these as screenwriting prompts, novel writing prompts, or short film ideas, pick one and tackle it in a way that speaks to you. Or use the writing prompts to inspire new ideas! Write on!
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101 Story Prompts to Kickstart Your Short Film
Do you want to write a short film but need help finding compelling concepts? Sometimes reading simple story prompts is the easiest way to get those creative juices flowing.
We get our ideas from many sources — news headlines, novels, television shows, movies, our lives, our fears, our phobias, etc. They can come from a scene or moment in a film that wasn’t fully explored. They can come from a single visual that entices the creative mind — a seed that continues to grow and grow until the writer is forced to finally put it to paper or screen.
They may inspire screenplays, novels, short stories, or even smaller moments that you can include in what stories you are already writing.
Keys to Writing Short Film Scripts?
Before we jump into our 101 Short Film Prompts, let's quickly go over a couple of important factors of writing short film scripts.
Concept is Everything
The rite of passage for any filmmaker is making a compelling short film. That is where filmmakers cut their teeth and truly come of age. It's also an epic journey through the highest of peaks and deepest of valleys as novice filmmakers quickly learn that it's not as easy as just having a few people, a boom mic, and a camera — you need a great concept.
Showcasing a talking heads short film isn't going to get you noticed by audiences or industry insiders. You need to capture their attention with compelling and engaging narratives that have a beginning, middle, and end within the short film running time of 40 minutes or less (you generally want to stick with 5-20 minutes most of the time) .
Economize Your Storytelling
Short films should also focus on smaller story windows.
- Instead of having your short film tell the dramatic story of your alcoholic character trying to go sober over the course of a year, why not focus on the last day of the last step in their 12-Step program?
- Instead of having your short script tell the epic story of a historical World War II battle, why not focus on one soldier as they deal with the overarching conflict?
- Instead of having your short story tell the horrifying story of a serial killer stalking and killing multiple victims, why not center the story on a single victim in their house watching the news reports of the killings and then hearing a floorboard creak from above?
Watch Short Films
It's as simple as that — watch short films. Here are 10 shorts you can watch online right now to get you started.
(And read a short film script if you can get your hands on one.)
Note: Because we’re all connected to the same pop culture, news headlines, and inspirations, any similarity to any past, present, or future screenplays, novels, short stories, television pilots, television series, plays, or any other creative works is purely coincidence. These true story writing prompts were conceived on the fly or were based on finding interesting true stories that are out there. While some may have proven to be told already, there are always alternative storylines not covered in what has already been written and produced.
1. Someone watching a news report about a local serial killer hears a floorboard creak.
2. A young brother and sister survive after the apocalypse.
3. Someone reading a scary book hears a knock at the door.
4. An alcoholic struggles to decide between taking a drink or not.
5. Students in an elementary school dealing with surviving lunchtime.
6. Students in an elementary school dealing with surviving recess.
7. Teenagers surviving the school politics of lunchtime.
8. An addicted gambler sits at a table.
9. A day in the life of the first astronaut on Mars.
10. A day in the life of the first colony on Mars.
11. A man and a woman keep seeing each other during a night out with their respective friends.
12. The experience of a character invited to a graduation party of someone they don't know.
13. The first human clone awakens.
14. The lifespan of a dog.
15. The lifespan of a cat.
16. Dracula is in his coffin not being able to sleep and having to kill time until dusk.
17. An African-American child's walk to school in a dangerous urban neighborhood.
18. A character wakes up with a gun in their hand and blood all over them .
19. A day in the life of an astronaut living on the moon.
20. The first day of school for a new student as they struggle to make a friend.
'Mean Girls' (2004)
21. The imaginary battle of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
22. The life of a handgun when it hits the streets.
23. The story of a pilot that sees a UFO in the skies.
24. A robot comes to life in an inventor's shop.
25. A person struggles to survive after being thrown from their car in an accident.
26. A remake of the original silent film The Great Train Robbery.
27. A day in the life of a puppy.
28. A German soldier trying to flee Nazi Germany.
29. A woman in a house is attacked by aliens.
30. A person is granted the wish to fly.
31. A person is granted the wish to be invisible.
32. A person makes a wish to be young again.
33. A man on his deathbed is taken on a road trip.
34. A woman spends a night with her newborn child, only to have to give it to adoptive parents.
35. A day in the life of a professional thief.
36. A day in the life of a homicide detective.
37. A day in the life of a teacher.
38. The new kid in the neighborhood struggles to make friends.
39. A slave struggles to escape its evil white pursuers.
40. A rock climber's solo ascent.
'Free Solo' (2018)
41. The day in the life of a professional gamer.
42. The world shown through the eyes of a drone.
43. A late-night call at a suicide prevention center.
44. The duel of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.
45. The duel of two samurai.
46. A day in the life of a maid that works for a rich family.
47. A mother working three jobs in a single day and then coming home to kiss their child goodnight.
48. A day in the life of a truck driver.
49. An astronaut lands on a desert planet.
50. A day in the life of an angel on Earth.
51. Teacher by day, stripper by night.
52. A vampire decides to commit suicide by sunlight after one last night on the town.
53. A day in the life of a Vegas stripper.
54. It's revealed that a sad person has been preparing for a loved one's funeral.
55. It's revealed that a child's friend is actually imaginary.
56. A babysitter must save a child when a forest fire bombards the neighborhood.
57. Surfers are lost at sea after riptides pull them out.
58. A park ranger discovers a dead body.
59. A travel agent struggles to hold onto a job that has no contemporary meaning.
60. A house that is haunted.
'The Conjuring' (2013)
61. An astronaut returns home but no one remembers who he is.
62. A day in the life of the last man on Earth.
63. A day in the life of the last woman on Earth.
64. A day in the life of the last dog on Earth.
65. When the WiFi goes down, neighborhood kids discover how to keep themselves entertained.
66. Four female kindergarten teachers and their hilarious lives after the bell rings.
67. An assassin sent back in time struggles with killing Baby Hitler.
68. An Uber ride gone wrong.
69. An Uber driver picks up a hitman.
70. The Angel of Death, in human form, visits its victims.
71. Two people are stuck in an elevator together.
72. Two people are stuck in the rubble of a fallen building and struggle to survive — it's a 9/11 tragic story.
73. An actor goes through a day of auditions and life in Los Angeles.
74. A character finds a magical item in an antique store.
75. A man contemplates suicide and finds an unexpected reason to live.
76. A man tries to become a superhero.
77. A day in the life of a fighter pilot told within the cockpit .
78. A man and woman fall in love over the course of thirty years of chance encounters.
79. A man wins the lottery and does good deeds with the money until it's all gone.
80. A serial killer stalking a victim.
81. A human clone escapes a research facility to find their double.
82. A man discovers their doppelganger.
83. A woman discovers their doppelganger.
84. A child discovers their doppelganger.
85. A carjacker accidentally steals a car full of rascal children.
86. A man returns to his hometown only to discover that no one remembers him.
87. A knight duals with another.
88. A woman wakes up to discover that everyone else on Earth has vanished.
89. A young Sherlock Holmes in middle school solves a mystery.
90. A child wanders off on their big wheel only to be found later that night by a truck driver.
91. A woman awakens on an island and realizes she is the only survivor of a plane crash.
92. Someone wakes up with the ability to hear everyone's thoughts.
93. Someone wakes up with the ability to touch anyone and see when they are going to die.
94. A cowboy encounters a UFO.
95. A sailor encounters a UFO.
96. A reunion between old high school friends goes sour when past issues emerge.
97. A man in an interrogation room confesses.
98. A man stuck in a thankless corporate job one day walks out and goes on a road trip.
99. One day, a woman finally decides to leave her abusive husband.
100. A coming-of-age tale about a middle school boy confronting bullies.
101. A first-time bank robber is forced to take hostages as he instantly regrets his choices.
'Dog Day Afternoon
Share this with your writing peers or anyone that loves a compelling short film. Have some prompts of your own? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter !
Want More Ideas? Take a Look at Our Other Story Prompts !
Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.
He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout , starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner, the feature thriller Hunter’s Creed , and many Lifetime thrillers. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies
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9 Creative Ideas to Start Your Next Script
A blank piece of paper. An empty laptop screen. Can you think of more daunting or fear-inducing images for any screenwriter? Writing any part of any script is a challenge, but many writers struggling with where to even begin. Putting those first few words onto the page can seem impossible, so if you’re stuck for ideas or just not where to start, we’ve compiled a list of ideas that can help kickstart your writing journey or get you past that first mental barrier.
A blank page or an empty screen represents an opportunity, a blank canvas for you to fill with color. Whether you’re at a creative dead-end in the process or simply find yourself with a classic case of “writer’s block,” we’ve put together a list of ideas that can help get you out of your creative rut and inspire you to get the words flowing.
Here are nine ideas that apply to screenwriters of every skill level and can help kickstart the creative juices.
When starting your script, make sure you start out by using a professional script editor software like Celtx.
1. Generating Script Ideas
You’re at the starting line, waiting for inspiration to strike. What’s that concept or story or theme that will spur a fountain of other ideas? If you’re still looking for that killer script idea, use some of these techniques to help you find that revelation you’re waiting for.
Real Life Experiences
As the classic adage goes, “write what you know!” Use the experience of yourself and others as inspiration or guidance for the stories, characters, or themes you bring to life.
Does someone you know have an exciting story to tell that you could take inspiration from? You don’t have to use the entire story; perhaps there’s a key snippet or anecdote you would like to expand on or change slightly. As far as the script is concerned, these are your stories, so take liberties in what inspiration you use and how you use or change it.
Of course, if you are seeking out ideas from other people’s personal experiences, make sure to ask them first before you start writing. Don’t want to shock Uncle Bob at the premiere when he finds out the villain is based on him.
As another adage goes, “life imitates art imitates life.” News stories or more prolific, accessible, and relatable then ever before. News is life at its most authentic and unfiltered. Audiences want to find profound meaning in life through film, and news stories can be a great place to start with real people.
Just be mindful and check that there’s a plausible narrative that can carry an audience through an entire script successfully and keep them engaged.
Go and Experience Things for Yourself
Don’t wait around for an idea to come to you, go out and experience the world! Take a walk or a drive, meet up with a friend, people-watch, go to your favorite bar/restaurant/spot, call an old pal. You’ll find that the best ideas often come from the strangest and simplest of places.
2. What If?
The classic question. “What if such and such happens to such and such a person?” This is one of the oldest methods of boiling an entire film down to its high-concept essence. Think Jurassic Park: “What if…dinosaurs could be brought back to life?” Inception: “What if…dreams could be invaded and controlled.”
You can play around with these high-concept ideas all day until you find something really unique or exciting. Force yourself to think outside of the box and in terms of ideas you’ve never seen or heard before.
3. Turn Something on Its Head
We all have our favorite films or TV shows, characters and worlds that we love to watch over and over again and cherish dearly. If you’re looking for a new idea, try taking something you’re already familiar with and flipping it on its head; explore the antagonist’s point of view or hypothesize about what else could’ve happened around that central storyline.
Obviously, it’s crucial you don’t plagiarize characters or storylines or steal any existing intellectual property, but there are abundant opportunities to reinvent the wheel by simply changing or flipping what already exists. By taking the basic story principles and elements, you can come up with something brand new.
4. Pitch, Pitch, Pitch!
Pitch your ideas to your family, friends, as well as fellow writers. Put a short “logline” together to excite them and hear their honest feedback. The more you share, the more you welcome opportunities for feedback and constructive criticism.
If you have an intended audience for the film/TV show, find someone in that age bracket. If you’re writing a children’s animation, for example, you’ll certainly want to understand what kids think of your idea. They’ll probably be the most honest too!
Let’s say you already have that billion-dollar movie idea ready to go but you simply don’t know how to actually put it on paper.
Recommended Reading : How to Write a Movie Script | A Comprehensive Guide
Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), it’s crucial to understand the fundamentals of screenwriting to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. Be organized and intentional from the start by following these key tips.
5. Understanding Script Fundamentals
You may have an amazing script idea and have received some great feedback from family, friends, and peers. Before you dive in head-first, though, let’s make sure you’ve defined the core story elements of any script:
· Protagonist’s goal
· Protagonist’s plan to reach that goal.
· What’s at stake?
Don’t start writing until you are 100% certain on these points! They are the foundation of your script that you will influence every part of your story. If they don’t…they should!
You need to know your principal characters inside out. How do they react in different situations? What drives them? What’s their Achilles heel?
Planning a script is a personal process and there is no one-size-fits-all methodology for screenwriters. That said, it is crucial that you take time to plan even a basic outline so you can focus entirely on creativity when writing the script.
One-pagers, beat sheets, treatments, mood boards and scene outlines all have their own purposes in script planning. You need to find what works best for you and what elements allow you to write most effectively.
It is worth bearing in mind that if you do pitch your project later, execs will expect some of these documents to be ready and sent to them, so make sure you are confident in producing all of these things when needed.
6. Hook the Audience
Hopefully nou now have your screenwritng software in front of you. The cursor flashes at you, waiting. Just how do you start off your script?
Remember you need your intended audience to be engaged from scene one. Write something that’s never been seen before and dive straight into the action; run don’t walk. This may be your only chance to engage them!
When introducing your characters for the first time, let their actions do the talking and remember to always “show” rather than “tell.”
7. The First Page
Screenplay formatting is consistent across the board, no matter which script you read or screenwriting software you use. But what exactly is at the beginning of the script? Format and content-wise, what must writers include?
The Scene Heading (or “Slugline”)
As the name suggests, these are the headings of scenes introducing the action. Again, the format is consistent; we state whether we are inside or outside (INT. for internal, EXT. for external), the location of the scene, and then the time of day (usually day or night). For example:
INT. NIGHT CLUB – NIGHT
EXT. PARKING LOT – DAY
These are both relatively simple sluglines, but it gives you a good idea of what they need to include.
This scene heading appears at the very top of page one and is the first thing anyone will read!
These come after the slugline and detail what’s happening visually on the screen. Screenplays do not need a wealth of exposition and description, so keep your script to key details only. You’re not writing poetry here but being visually descriptive about what is happening that is relevant to the characters.
Set yourself clear expectations from the get-go. Every action line you write, every line of dialogue, must be instrumental in driving your story forward. If it doesn’t, it’s got to go. Script real estate is precious!
If you find you prefer to just let your creativity flow, this is something a lot of writers focus on in their rewrites. But if you’re mindful of keeping your writing as concise and economical as possible along the way, keeping action descriptions concise will make your edits so much easier.
Concentrate on the plot rather than the aesthetic detail, unless it’s integral to the plot.
You don’t have to introduce your protagonist on page one, but you need to reveal them as soon as possible. For the audience to relate and empathise with the protagonist, they need to spend as much time with them as possible. So, if you can, introduce them straight away.
Characters must always be introduced with their name in ALL CAPS the first time they appear in the script After that, their name can be written in lower case.
JAMES (late 30s) slams his glass down on the table, beer sloshing over the bar.
To really bring your character introductions to life, establish them with action rather than just describing their features. Consider what sort of character James might be just by his actions as written above.
8. Creative Starters
Of course, you don’t have to start your screenplay with just a scene and ‘FADE IN’. Many writers use other creative techniques to introduce context or intrigue to their scripts. Here are some of our favorites:
“Sound Over Black”
Starting with a blank screen with just sound in the background can pique an audience’s interest. Immediately, they’re trying to work out where they are and what’s happening before they’re even launched into the first scene.
If your idea has taken inspiration from a novel or a quote from a notable figure, you can have this superimposed on the screen at the start of the film. Note that the quote must connect directly to the plot itself and not be there just for the sake of it or because it ‘sounds good.’
Address the Audience
Using superimposed text once more, you could have a brief introduction to the story you’re about to tell and set the mood. This is usually effective for films based on true stories.
9. Set Goals
Writing, let alone writing a screenplay, is not supposed to be an easy process, so it’s important to not be hard on yourself and to relish the process and the challenges that come with it.
You don’t need to write every single day but setting up a schedule for yourself from the starting blocks will help keep you accountable. Find a rhythm that works for you and stick to it. And make sure to take breaks so you feel refreshed every time you sit down to write.
Recommended Reading: 4 Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block
Beginning a script is a dual process: the idea and the execution. No idea is unique anymore, unfortunately, but writers and filmmakers are constantly finding new perspectives and fresh takes. They are using their voices to shine a new light on old ideas. It’s all about the execution.
If you can expertly execute a great screen idea, the possibilities are endless. That’s why it’s even more important not to wait for inspiration to strike, but to go out there and search for it.
Natasha is a UK-based freelance screenwriter and script editor with a love for sci-fi. In 2022 she recently placed in the Screenwriters' Network Short Film Screenplay Competition and the Golden Short Film Festivals. When not at her desk, you'll find her at the theater, or walking around the English countryside (even in the notorious British weather)
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100 Dialogue Prompts for Fiction, Screenplays, and More
Hey friends! I created this list of dialogue prompts mostly with novelists and short story writers in mind, but they would also be helpful for script writing, for creative writing teachers, and even for improv coaches. I’ve tried to include both funny dialogue prompts, more serious ones, and some that are really open-ended.
No matter what you’re working on, the way you use these writing prompts is basically the same: you pick a line of dialogue and you write a conversation or a scene that includes it. Most of these are geared toward contemporary fiction and screenwriting, but I’ve thrown in a few that go more in the direction of other fiction genres.
Depending on your project, you might also want to check out my lists of romance plot ideas and fantasy story ideas.
It took a long time to come up with these dialogue writing prompts, but it was also pretty fun. If one of them winds up in your finished work, that’s just fine with me. Pin or bookmark it for future use!
“Ma’am, is this your dog?”
“no, it’s really not that complicated. he’s a bad person.”, “hey… what’s wrong with your face”, “the king is missing.”, “ah yes, come in. close the door behind you.”, “how could you do this to me”, “um, sorry. that one’s not for sale.”, “you’ve got thirty seconds to explain to me what you’re doing here.”, “ain’t nobody ever told you who your real daddy is”, “i know this may be hard to believe, but i’m on your side.”, “never heard of that being used as a murder weapon before.”, “just sit around and cry, then. i don’t have that luxury.”, “i’m sorry. i thought you were someone else.”, “that’s the nice thing about telling the truth. you don’t have nearly as much to keep track of.”, “of course we’re best friends. no one else would put up with our shenanigans.”, “that’s the least of your worries.”, “you look a lot different from your profile picture.”, “do you trust me”, “you found it on the beach you know, when most people take a walk on the beach, they pick up seashells.”, “sir. this is for children only.”, “i haven’t tried this on a human yet, but it should be very similar.”, “what i meant it as a compliment.”, “who put this in my coat pocket”, “i can’t do this any more.”, “you think you’re so good-looking, but deep down, you’re the kind of ugly that photoshop can’t fix.”, “i know you did your best, but it just wasn’t enough.”, “even if i could stop it, i wouldn’t.”, “you have got to see this.”, “guess who made the evening news”, “i don’t really think of myself as a thief…”, “are you just going to keep walking by my house or are you going to come in”, “we do things a little differently in the 21 st century.”, “please return to your assigned seat.”, “dude. it’s 3 in the morning.”, “i can’t believe i used to think he was attractive.”, “actually, you are speaking to the manager.”, “where are your clothes”, “well, this contest isn’t going to rig itself.”, “hi, i’m calling about your ad”, “i can’t believe i’m telling you this.”, “i should have told you this a long time ago.”, “i am only telling the truth when i say that you have not behaved completely as a gentleman in this matter.”, “i thought we were friends”, “that’s not a good look.”, “it’s a genetic trait, but it’s exceptionally rare.”, “i love you, but i don’t even think i know who you really are.”, “she’s evil, but she does have a point there.”, “i didn’t know you could talk.”, “sweetie, what were you thinking”, “what makes you think it was an accident”, “sorry. you’re the first person i’ve spoken to in ten years.”, “i don’t suppose you’ve got a blowtorch around here”, “i know you’re here. you may as well show yourself.”, “get a job”, “this isn’t going to be a typical best man speech.”, “according to this, you owe them eighty thousand dollars.”, “we thought at first that it was part of the performance.”, “it’s been a while since i’ve seen y’all in church.”, “i would break his thumbs right now if i could.”, “why are you helping me”, “that’s the worst reason i’ve ever heard to have a baby.”, “i didn’t even recognize you”, “is it worth breaking your vows over”, “i told you not to read that.”, “put the turkey down.”, “i didn’t ask to be abducted.”, “that’s the most disgusting thing i’ve ever heard.”, “where did you learn how to do that”, “are you banned from all taco bells, or just that taco bell”, “i thought you had him”, “humility is not one of my many virtues.”, “how can you stand living here”, “she’s young, fertile, and from a good family. what more do you need to know”, “sometimes being a total geek pays off.”, “you don’t have the correct paperwork.”, “careful not to break the—oh.”, “i wasn’t going to say anything, but yeah.”, “i’d love to help, but i want to keep all of my money in case i want to spend it on other things.”, “well aren’t you the cutest little thing”, “why is that your password”, “please don’t use sarcasm. it confuses me.”, “after we lost you, things just weren’t the same.”, “if you were logical you would’ve killed me already.”, “well, that could’ve gone better.”, “sometimes i feel like she’s still at my side.”, “we’ve been waiting two hours.”, “your services are no longer required.”, “i feel like we’ve met before…”, “does he hit you”, “yes, it’s a questionable line of work, but i’m good at it.”, “she’s in the building.”, “wow it’s an honor to meet you.”, “you were in a crash. can you tell me your name”, “this used to be a great country, but people like you are destroying it.”, “i’m cured. i swear.”, “my chances of living to a ripe old age are unfortunately excellent.”, “let’s face it, you don’t exactly blend in.”, “forgive me if i’m misreading things, but do you want to make out”, “the next time you shoot a guy, don’t do it on national television.”, “we’ll need to take a blood sample to be sure.” [spacer height=”20px”].
I hope you liked this post! If you don’t want to miss any posts like this for writers, follow the blog if you aren’t already doing so — there’s a place you can sign up below.
Please also check out my big book of writing prompts . Whether you’re starting a new story or trying to figure out where a story goes next, it can give you fresh inspiration.
Thanks for stopping by, and happy writing!
27 thoughts on “ 100 dialogue prompts for fiction, screenplays, and more ”.
I’ve finally discovered where you hide your Sumome plugin!
May I suggest you relocate it to the left side of your posts so it’s more visible for folks like me to find and share your great posts
Chris! Thanks for the feedback — I really appreciate any advice from a master blogger like you. 🙂 I only added it because you suggested it, but I kinda don’t understand it. 😀 I’ll look into this!
Hi again Bryn – I just noticed I’d got my email address wrong in the last comment 😀
These are fantastic! You had me at “dog”. Thank you for your blog. It’s gives me motivation to continue writing when nothing else appeals to my writer- brain.
Aww Delilah, that is so nice of you to say! I’m glad you like them. (The “dog” one was my favorite. 😀 )
I am so totally stealing 21, 47 and 69!
I love these. 🙂
Hahaha. Thank you Paige!
Yeah! This is awesome!! Thanks for posting!
Thanks Jennifer, so glad you like them! Thanks for reading 🙂
OMG!! #25 had me laughing so hard I think I peed myself just a little. ROFLOL
Aside from that, I may be stealing a few (only a dozen or 3) of these, but may need to change a word or two here and there to make them fit whatever story they go into. These are Priceless!! 🙂
Haha, thanks Robin! Yes, please steal away, that’s what they are here for! (So, not actually stealing!) 😀
Another list, Bryn. Thank you!
second try – that should have read ‘Another really useful list, Bryn. Thank you!’ the first comment just stated the obvious 🙂
I knew what you meant actually! 😀
Thanks, Bryn for the great prompts. 🙂 — Suzanne
Glad you like them Suzanne! 🙂
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If I said #81 to my girlfriend, she’d respond with #22. And then I’d say #47 to myself. 😀
Hahahaha! I love this! Thanks for the laugh, Robert 🙂
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These prompts are great. Unusually excellent. Thank you!
I don’t know about this maybe I’ll be sued for copyright but I really love that dialogue from Game of thrones “You know nothing Jon Snow”.
Thank you so much for these. You saved a struggling script writer! SO excited to start writing now
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Script Ideas: 5 Proven Ways to Unlock Original Movie Ideas.
Release your creativity, effectively brainstorm and come up with plot ideas that’ll get your next script noticed..
Script ideas: 5 proven ways to unlock original movie ideas.
Are you the kind of writer who has notepads full of script ideas that you don’t have enough time to write? Or do you spend hours staring at your computer screen waiting for “inspiration to strike?”
Unfortunately, we’re not all gifted with the ability to come up with good movie ideas at the drop of a hat. So how do you do it? How do you write a script if you don’t have a solid idea of what you want to write about? At all .
In this post, we’re going to show you the best way to brainstorm and come up with great movie ideas that you can turn into great scripts.
Click to tweet this post.
1. Turn off your phone and get outside.
This first step is one of the very best ways of coming up with great film ideas. Turn off your computer. Turn off your phone, iPad, TV and any other electrical hardware you own and make a commitment they’re going to stay off for X amount of hours .
Within this timeframe, get out the house and do some activities that give you the opportunity to let your mind wander . Go for a hike, or surfing, or sit in Starbucks and listen to other people’s conversations.
Or simply walk down a city street. Look up, take in your surroundings and interact with people and the world. You’re missing out on a million potential screenplay ideas when your head’s buried in your phone.
We recommend unplugging from technology for at least twenty-four hours, say, on a Saturday or Sunday. Really free the mind and reconnect with the present moment. You may be thinking all this sounds too simplistic. But giving your mind some time off from technology will give it the chance to roam.
Remember: Newton didn’t come up with the theory of gravity while scribbling equations on a blackboard. He was in his garden noticing an apple fall…
2. Study other writers’ loglines.
Here’s a perhaps more “screenwritery” method. One of the best ways to generate movie plot ideas is by riffing on existing ones . This will get your creative juices flowing enabling you to think more creatively about your own loglines.
Study aspiring writers’ script ideas.
Here’s a list from 2018’s annual Blacklist . Make notes. Combine elements from different loglines. Add your own protagonist to someone else’s plot, or your own plot to someone else’s protagonist.
Also, be sure to listen to Pilar Alessandra’s yearly logline contest. This is a great place to hear plot ideas and absorb as much as you can from them. In our post on the 10 Best Screenwriting Podcasts For Savvy Screenwriters , we include links to some of these logline contests .
The benefit of listening rather than reading is that you get to hear how the logline sounds when read out loud. Play around with all the different scenarios and you’ll come away with some promising new film ideas.
Study professional writers’ movie ideas.
It’s important to study loglines of produced movies too when you’re trying to come up with original plot ideas. Go to IMDb and gather together some loglines from movies in your chosen genre.
Study them. Have a think about what makes them good movie ideas. What makes you want to watch them (or not) purely from the logline alone? Try it with these examples below:
Drama script ideas.
• A seasoned airline pilot who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe, saving nearly every soul on board, is hailed as a hero. But then questions arise as to who or what was really at fault and what really happened on the plane. ( Flight )
• A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. ( Whiplash )
• After the dissolution of her marriage, death of her mother, and years of destructive behavior, a woman decides—with absolutely no experience—to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. ( Wild )
Comedy script ideas.
• In New York in 1928, a struggling playwright is forced to cast a mobster’s talentless girlfriend in his latest drama in order to get it produced. ( Bullets Over Broadway )
• A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery when the shady brother of one of them is seemingly kidnapped by dangerous gangsters. ( Game Night )
• When a seventy-year-old widower discovers that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, he seizes an opportunity to get back in the game by becoming a senior intern at an online fashion site. ( The Intern )
Action movie ideas.
• A talented, young getaway driver relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom. ( Baby Driver )
• An ex-con reunites with his estranged wayward 17-year old daughter to protect her from drug dealers who are trying to kill her. ( Blood Father )
• A homicide investigator digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims. ( Jack Reacher )
Thriller movie ideas.
• After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack. ( 10 Cloverfield Lane )
• A mysterious outsider’s quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. ( Blue Ruin )
• A young African-American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined. ( Get Out )
Horror movie ideas.
• Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind. ( The Blair Witch Project )
• Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of young thieves break into the house of an old blind man who isn’t as helpless as he seems. ( Don’t Breathe )
• A woman tries to exonerate her brother, who was convicted of murder, by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon. ( Oculus )
As in the previous section, reading other people’s loglines should inspire you to come up with better film ideas yourself.
3. Plunder real life.
There’s often no real reason to bang your head against a wall trying to come up with movie ideas from scratch. Instead, plunder real life.
• (500) Days of Summer . Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber wrote down every bad relationship experience they’d ever had on index cards and turned them into the screenplay for this downbeat Comedy.
• Alpha Dog . Nick Cassavetes based the script to this film on the real-life kidnapping of a fifteen-year-old kid by his older brother’s drug dealer.
• Zodiac . James Vanderbilt and Robert Graysmith based their script on the lives of the journalists and investigators involved in the real-life serial killer case: the Zodiac Killer.
Become a research fanatic.
Keep up with the news. Keep a notepad with you at all times and jot down interesting screenplay ideas from local newspapers and the national TV news.
Subscribe to a news channel for daily updates. Watch documentaries in the genre you want to write a screenplay in. Get into the habit of hitting “Random Article” on Wikipedia and seeing what comes up.
Also, listen to the Scriptnotes podcast . John August and Craig Mazin often include a section in which they take some real incidents and see how they could be developed as good movie ideas.
Finally, have a think about your own life . Has something happened to you or to someone you know that’d make a good story? Or maybe you could loosely base some of your characters on actual people in your life. This is an effective way of helping them feel “real.”
4. Focus on what moves you.
Are you passionate about skateboarding? Or astrophysics? Or wiener dogs? What puts a fire in your belly? What subject would you really love basing the plot or theme of your script around?
Often this is a great way to come up with movie script ideas because you’re starting from a point of passion . And this will come across in your writing and bring a level of authenticity to your work that’s lacking in many aspiring writers’ specs.
Have a think about some of your favorite protagonists. What are they passionate about? What skills do they have? What knowledge do they impart to the audience?
For example, in Sideways , we’re impressed by Miles’ expert knowledge of wine. It makes him relatable and believable. In Everest , we really feel the climbers’ passion for mountaineering. In Whiplash , Andrew’s love of drumming is palpable.
In each case, the writer has simply injected their own passions into their protagonists. And you can do the same.
5. Forget “what if?” and relax.
You may have heard the advice that when trying to come up with good movie ideas you should ask yourself “what if?” The theory goes that you come up with a character or a situation ask “what if?” and then “see what happens.”
• What if a guy was walking to work and suddenly gets kidnapped?
• What if all the food in the world ran out?
• What if a chauvinist could hear women’s thoughts?
The problem here is that essentially there’s not much difference between asking “what if” and just brainstorming trying coming up with a logline. You have to think “what could happen next?” when you’re thinking about screenplay ideas anyway and this often leads to a build of pressure and writer’s block.
A better way to come up with movie script ideas is to take the pressure off as much as possible. Rather than sitting there in front of a blank page, take a leaf out of Hitchcock’s working method. It’s relayed here by one of his cowriters.
Hitchcock’s script idea method.
“When we came up against a block and our discussions became very heated and intense, he would stop suddenly and tell a story that had nothing to do with the work at hand. At first, I was almost outraged, and then I discovered that he did this intentionally. He mistrusted working under pressure, and he would say, ‘We’re pressing, we’re pressing, we’re working too hard. Relax, it will come.’ And of course if finally always did.”
If your plot ideas aren’t flowing as well as you’d like, the first thing to do is to take a step back . Relax. Don’t beat yourself if things aren’t panning out as you’d like right now. They probably will.
Script ideas FAQs.
Below you’ll find answers to some commonly asked questions we get at Script Reader Pro about creating good movie ideas.
1. Can I use a movie idea generator?
Firstly you may be asking “what is a movie idea generator?” (Also known as a “film idea generator” or “script idea generator.”)
These are websites which generally consist of a single form that asks you to choose different responses to various questions in a drop-down menu. For example, is your protagonist a retired cop or a circus performer? Is their goal to infiltrate a drug smuggling ring or rescue a pet hamster? Is the movie like The Shining or Ratatouille ?
As you can imagine, using a film ideas generator is pretty limiting . We don’t really recommend it if you want to come up with compelling plot ideas for feature or short scripts.
Rather than spending time on a movie idea generator, follow the methods we’ve outlined in this post and you should do just fine.
2. Do I have to copyright my script ideas?
No, it’s impossible to copyright an idea for a movie. The truth is, an idea is just an idea. It’s the execution of that idea that holds value. Not the initial idea itself.
3. Are producers looking for movie ideas?
Unfortunately, no. There’s nowhere to submit movie ideas and producers aren’t looking for movie ideas in themselves. What they’re looking for is the finished article. In other words, a feature screenplay or short script based on a great movie idea.
4. Can I get Paid for script ideas?
If you run an internet search on “how to sell a movie idea” and find yourself on a website that claims it’s possible to do so, get out of there as quickly as possible.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, there’s no real market for selling just film ideas . You’ll need to write a spec yourself or collaborate with another writer and then try and sell it.
5. So why do you advise that we write film ideas as loglines?
This is a great exercise in order to make sure your concept is rock solid before you start writing the script. And can potentially save you months of rewrites. It’s also handy to have a logline of your script ready as an elevator pitch or to add to a query letter. Here’s the step-by-step guide on How to Write a Logline: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide.
How to come up with great script ideas: conclusion.
We hope this post will help you generate some great script ideas. However, it’s not enough to just come up with script ideas, they have to be original . Ultimately, there has to be something within the conflict of your story that marks it out as different in some way.
We recently produced some script coverage on a writer’s script about a middle-aged woman who lives with a foul-mouthed talking Sindy doll. When we pointed out the similarities between her script and the movie Ted , she replied, “Okay, but imagine Ted hadn’t been made. How would my story stand up then?”
But the problem is Ted has already been made . Audiences have already seen the whole thing with an adult talking to a childhood toy, so this idea just didn’t cut it in the originality stakes.
The case of The Hangover.
Before The Hangover , had you ever seen a comedy about three guys who wake up from a bachelor party to discover the groom’s missing and they have no idea why?
Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s script was a spec, and one of the primary reasons it got bought and got made is the originality of the concept . This is key to coming up with plot ideas that get turned into effective features and short films.
Overall, if your film ideas are cliched you’ll need to rethink them. Our post How to Write a Logline: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide will give you a full breakdown on how to make sure it’s ready to be written.
Turn off your phone and get outside. Read other writers’ script ideas. Check your plot ideas against those on IMDb. Plunder real life for movie ideas and focus on what you’re most passionate about. But most important of all: be original .
How do you come up with loglines and script ideas for your projects? What do you think of our suggestions? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Liked this post? Read more on how to generate great script ideas…
High Concept: What It Is and How to Apply It to Your Story Idea
How to Write a Script Outline That Will Save You Months of Rewrites
How to Use a Script Analysis Worksheet to Bulletproof Act 1 [© Photo credits: Unsplash ]
Like it? Share it!
Robocop 2 Future Crime. Opening seen. Picture it’s the middle of the day in NYC. There’s a very busy bank open for business. One of the customers notices there’s a armored drone hovering outside the window. As he stares closely he discovers that it is silently drilling a hole into the window. Shocked from what he is witnessing, frozen in the moment the drone inserts an explosive device. Boom! Drone enters the bank equipped with 5 pounds of C4 and the operator makes his demands threw his multiple lensed warbot friend. Everything from robbery,drug dealing, to Human trafficking. THE future of crime. Who will stop the criminals as the crime rate soars? Robocop is there only hope of the city not turning into a desolate wasteland. From our World of corruption to our day of self Distruction? I would love to watch this one day if it was a movie or a TV series. Maybe Robocop Future Crime if it was turned into a tv series.
I want to be a filmmaker but it’s hard to put the idea into practice. I was very stressed about this. Luckily, I found this article of yours. It really helped me a lot. I don’t feel alone on my journey. Thank you
Thanks for reading, Iris – glad it helped 🙂
I loved it when you said that unfortunately, we’re not all gifted with the ability to come up with good movie ideas at the drop of a hat. My cousin wants to become a filmmaker. I will share this post for him to have the knowledge on how to become a good filmmaker and be one in the industry.
Thanks for reading, Jeff!
Thank you for your great advice. Hope I could finish off my script without pressure
Glad you found it useful, Srinivas!
Well, am much conviced with the great ideas above and am interested at becoming a great script film writer.how will i build this dream too far??
You’re welcome, Azaz.
Glad you enjoyed it!
Just returning from Nicaraguua, there are miles of semis awaiting to cross the border from Costa Rica to Nicaraqua. Sometimes it takes three days of waiting to cross. They need to unload everything and load everything back in for each truck. Woman deliver baskets of food to the drivers. But what else happens?!!!!! Would love to know.
Thanks for this article. I like the bit about forgetting ‘what if’ and just relax
Great, glad you enjoyed the post, Steve 🙂
Steam. It’s Saw, but in a gay bathhouse.
I heard some news about Eddie Murphy. I guess on the Jimmy Kimmel show he made an anouncement. I guess he’s going to do stand up comedy again. And he’s going to be on SNL? Crazy!
Thank you so much…. i have so many ideas in my mind about film but here Some complication and difficulties always comes and destroying my full future planing about the film, the present tips is really helpful for Me Sir/Madam !
Excellent read, I just passed this onto my writing group.
Awesome, thanks, Sheila!
I utterly support the idea of turn of your phone, iPad, computer,TV and so on…..go outside for fresh air to renew your mind. The supper hero script which am working on, I had run out of ideas were he will get the supper powers to protect the human universe against the peril which the [T3N] did outside earth. I decided to pack the book and go outside for nice air in the pouring rains. Anomaly there was a great Lightning accompanied by a great thunderstorms…… Peculiar my mind was open were he will get his supper powers…
Perfect example of what we’re talking about 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Lackson.
I have a true story. Me and my family have been the victims of IDENTITY theft. They have used voice to skull and put a chemical into our home. I am military and I believe they intended tp eliminate me and my family to cover up their crimes. I have photos and documentation of this.
Thank you very much for each one of the greats advises you wrote.
So yeah … ummmm anyone think OJ did it??
Wow! This are really great ideas. Thanks
Thanks a lot, Rose!
Great instructions, some of them fit to what I already do and the others will certainly help to stick to it and keep going (in Germany everybody asks for “fresh ideas and/or new and inspiring writers”. Problem is that when it comes to a call for a script these same people ask for “at least one realized film/movie”. So I try to get every (good) advice possible to not drift into complete resignation :-). Thank you for keeping our writing spirits up!
Thanks, Anina! Best of luck with your writing endeavors in Germany.
This has been an eye opening read for me. Feel like I need to go back to my story and work on the concept from the beginning. Thank you!!
Good luck, Petra!
“BEING THERE” (1973, Director: Hal Ashby; Starring: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, and the others) is one of the possible but simple responses to Krista’s question – it is sufficient to be there (in a genre of comedy, at least). As a movie is a blend of reality and fiction, both sources of inspiration: the reality and the author’s own brain are eligible. The fictitious bomb attack on the Greenwich Observatory, for instance, is taken from the real newspaper’s announcement as in “The Secret Agent” by Joseph Conrad (1907).
Write. Rewrite and rewrite again. My motto is…. I can write what ever I like. It doesn’t have to be like any other movie I ever daw
When reserved Shawn inherits his father’s estate, turning him into an instant billionaire, the private world he once enjoyed is now public information when the media labels him the ‘Most Desirable Man Alive’. Struggling to navigate his newfound status and desiring to stay out of the spotlight, Shawn doesn’t expect to meet outgoing Shelley, who seems genuinely interested in him, but society’s expectations for him to always cater to the media, a constant bodyguard presence, and a sudden deluge of eligible bachelorettes keep coming between them.
Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?
Superb ideas to follow and stick to this.
Thanks for reaching out, Amian!
Thanks for this wonderful article. You put writing a logline in such an easy way I like it.
Thanks a lot, Marc!
This is hands down the best post on freeing yourself as a writer I’ve read. This site’s a freaking goldmine, thank you!!
Thanks, Edward, really appreciate it!
How do I do this in practice tho. I feel like I write and think its good but everyone read it and says its not good.
Muito obrigado pelas dicas, sempre a nos ajudar
Where can I find more do you have more articles like this on being a different writer from everyone else?
Totally agree with turning your phone off and getting outside. It’s amazing what ideas you can have when you disconnect from all that crap on Facebook and Twitter Great post guys!
Thanks, Curtis. Yes, every writer should do it at least once a month.
I’m not a writer, but I would like to see someone do a remake of George Orwell’s, “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, incorporating modern technology (cell phones, home computers, social media, etc.) to accomplish the state’s objective to continuously monitor its citizens conversations, movements and even their thoughts. “Big Brother” could be similar to a cult-like president who was “elected” by the easily swayed under-educated rabble. The persuasive power of “the party”, which is actually an elite group that controls both major political parties would illicit the services of the “thought police”, taking action against “subversives” in the form of convincing the public of the dangers of independent thinking. This effort would be reinforced by the puppet talk show hosts, shaming subversives into submission. The protagonist, Winston Smith, would enter a forbidden relationship with a woman of another race or perhaps even a Muslim. The state, claiming that she is a terrorist and a danger to public safety, would begin hunting them down.
Where can I find more loglines. You haven’t given enough sources. Otherwise it’s a good article.
This is what sets scriptreader pro apart from other screenwriting blogs: thinking outside the box. LOVE IT.
Thanks so much, Datiya!
Moive idea generator?? Do people seriously use these things??
Can’t say it’s the best idea but some writers do, yes.
How much will it cost me for you to evaluate my movie ideas? I have a lot and they’re ready for sale for Hollywood.
Zodiac was an adaptation of Graysmith’s novel about the Zodiac Killer, not an original idea based on the Son of Sam.
Thanks for suggesting new ways to finding good script ideas. I’ve been thinking about new ideas for my next screenplay for months and it’s driving me crazy. I will definitely take a no technology weekend, go offline and let my creativity flow. Hopefully that helps! 🙂
A fickle woman miraculously survives a fire only to discover that her fiancé never existed. Things get worse when a deranged detective believes she is a terrorist. She must work with a psychologist, with his own issues, if she wants to discover the truth.
A man wakes up to realize his whole life has been a dream and now he must fight to get back awake before it becomes a nightmare.
Who is the man? Read that first section about thumbnails and describe him. Why does the dream become a nightmare? So, if he ‘wakes up’, then why does he have to get back awake? Also, this logline needs irony.
Hi Gina, as Loressa says we need much more information here about who this man is, where he’s come from and what the source of antagonism is.
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Twists, turns, big reveals, and surprise endings are some of the most coveted aspects of a great story, whether they are found within movies, TV shows, or novels. Plot twists break the monotony of conventional plots and stories, which is why script readers, audiences, and publishers love them.
82 Creative Writing Prompts and Writing Exercises for Screenwriters By Alyssa Maio on November 15, 2019 C reative writing prompts are powerful tools that aid you to become a consistent writer. It's easy to get inspired once, maybe twice about a project or story that means something to you.
Story ideas are typically divided into two types: high concept and low concept. A low concept story has three major aspects to it: 1) It isn't easily explained. 2) It talks about everyday life and relationships. 3) It's character driven. High concept stories are: 1) It is easily explained. 2) It's intriguing. 3) It's event driven.
These can provide solid script ideas for you to use in your screenplays, and they can also be valuable creative exercises that lead you to where you need to go. Screenwriting is not linear, and sometimes all you need is to distract your intellect to allow your creative mind to flow.
To develop a script idea, it's essential to identify the genre you want to write in. Then, flesh out your idea by creating a logline, outlining the main plot points, developing the characters, and start writing the first draft using screenwriting software. How many script ideas should I have before I start writing?
The 5 tactics below will help kickstart your potential script ideas - that initial first stage in the screenwriting process that can often feel the hardest. So: where to start? 1. Script Ideas from News Stories News stories can be a great way of sourcing script ideas.
A writing memoir by Stephen King is not a scriptwriting book but is good for motivation and inspiration if your goal is to write full-time. Short Film Script Ideas. Write about something that has brought you great pain or happiness. Work backward, write a great ending first, then work out how to get there
There are many pieces that need to fit perfectly in order to produce high-quality screenwriting. We will focus on developing two crucial aspects in the screenwriting process, and those are the dialogue and setting the scene. A line has to be provocative enough to inspire a response, so the dialogue prompts bellow do exactly that - they guide you into character and plot development by using ...
Here are 10 script ideas that give you a direction. Where you take them will be up to your imagination. (I list the puppet and vent as he - although that was just for writing purposes. Obviously he could be a she.) 1. Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde Scenario: The puppet accidentally hits his head on the microphone stand / table / etc.
Need fiction writing inspiration? The ServiceScape Writing Prompt Generator has hundreds of creative writing ideas. From Fantasy to Science Fiction to Horror to Romance, our free and easy-to-use writing prompt generator can get your gears turning for whatever fiction story you want to write.
Building story prompts into your writing routine can make you a better writer. Not only will they get the creative juices flowing, but story prompts can also help warm-up your brain for a productive writing session and help you develop a wider writing skill-set. If you want to explore new writing styles, storylines, and characters in a small ...
132 Screenwriting Prompts. A group of strangers stranded on a desert island must unite to survive. A young woman discovers that she has magical powers and is destined to save the world from evil. A group of friends embarks on an epic road trip across the American Southwest, encountering adventure at every turn.
Prompts for Script Writing The prompts below are designed for scriptwriters at any skill level and can be used time and again to inspire fresh dialogue and unique characters. Overheard Go out...
Screenwriting Prompts for Creative Writers Motivation In need of a new idea? Writing prompts are ideal for writers ready to jumpstart their creativity. Look no further. Use the below for screenwriting prompts, novel writing prompts, short film ideas, and the like! How to use a writing prompt Grab a notebook or open a new doc on your computer.
101 Story Prompts to Kickstart Your Short Film 1. Someone watching a news report about a local serial killer hears a floorboard creak. 2. A young brother and sister survive after the apocalypse. 3. Someone reading a scary book hears a knock at the door. 4. An alcoholic struggles to decide between taking a drink or not. 5.
You may have an amazing script idea and have received some great feedback from family, friends, and peers. Before you dive in head-first, though, let's make sure you've defined the core story elements of any script: · Protagonist. · Antagonist. · Protagonist's goal. · Protagonist's plan to reach that goal.
From Idea To Script. Here's how to turn your promising concept into a screen-worthy script. by Jurgen Wolff. Jurgen Wolff. Jul 8, 2008. At writing conferences, screenwriters occasionally tell me about the projects they're working on and ask me to react to their logline. Often it's something like the following:
Make your own script writing prompts and story starters by making a creative game. Using four columns, write down a list of prompts on little pieces of paper or card as shown below. You'll need the sentence starter such as 'Write a story about...' or 'Write a script about...' along with a character, a description, and a situation.
"Hey… what's wrong with your face?" "The king is missing." "Ah yes, come in. Close the door behind you." "How could you do this to me?" "Um, sorry. That one's not for sale." "You've got thirty seconds to explain to me what you're doing here." "Ain't nobody ever told you who your real daddy is?"
1. Turn off your phone and get outside. This first step is one of the very best ways of coming up with great film ideas. Turn off your computer. Turn off your phone, iPad, TV and any other electrical hardware you own and make a commitment they're going to stay off for X amount of hours.