This is intended as a follow up post to Write What You Love.
Okay. This might sound ridiculous, but bear with me. Say a magic genie appeared tonight before you fell asleep, Shazam!, and gave you a magic ticket to the best movie ever the following day, what movie would you want to see? If it were your absolute favorite type of movie and it would be completely awesome (and I am still inspired by The Hangover as I write this), like the best movie ever, what would that movie be? I’m not talking about the best “objective” movie ever made. Throw Citizen Kane out the window. I’m talking about the bestest movie to you if you could make it up. What would you absolutely die to see in the theatre if you could?
Think about it: Which genre? Horror? Comedy? Romantic comedy? Thriller? Sci-fi?
What elements would it have? Would it be salacious and edgy like True Blood? Or more of a sexless fairy tale a la Twilight? Or, maybe it wouldn’t have any romance at all and be a WWII movie about a German teaming up with a Russian.
What time period would it take place in? Today? 100 years ago? In the future?
Would it be linear or non-linear?
Hero’s journey or ensemble? Who’s the hero or heroine? What person or group’s journey do you most want to see in the world?
What would his or her world look like? Who are the people in their world they love and hate?
Couching the concept process in this way helps up the stakes for myself of what it’s possible to write. Don’t just think about writing that next script, that next idea. What if that next idea could be the movie you’d most love to watch in the whole world? Is your concept really at that level? Have you executed it with that amount of love and attention to detail, so thoroughly that you yourself are absolutely in love with your script and your characters and would want everyone on the planet to read it?
Look, I love a romantic comedy as much as the next girl, but honestly, if I sat down and thought to myself what the elements of the best, most amazing romantic comedy would look like, I could come up with a few key things even before getting to the meat of the story. And, if I put the question to myself in those terms – what would be the most fun, amazing, romantic, outrageous thing I could come up with for my #1 romantic and funny movie – I would think about it not in terms of real life but in terms of wish fulfillment. That’s why I asked about the genie.
But, isn’t that what we’re doing as storytellers? Weaving dreams into realities?
The Hangover was so inspirational to me. I thought that movie was hilarious and awesome. It had so many elements working that were fascinating and really wonderful. That project just took it to the next level. It was a simple premise with a silly twist ending, but the journey was so hilarious and well-written, and the characters so compelling, we didn’t care that the twist ending was kind of stupid. It absolutely worked. It was perfect for that story. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited or inspired by a movie. I want to feel that level of excitement and enthusiasm for each and every one of my projects. I want to fall in love with them. I want to fall in love with my protagonists and have that love be contagious.
I’ve been in the process of outlining my next 2 projects before I hit the page. One is pretty close to being ready to go and the other is a work in progress. But, I can’t say I am quite as enthusiastic about these projects as I am about The Hangover. I guess that’s the next step for me then – to lavish these projects with that level of love and attention. I want these stories to be that good – so good I would get up and cheer about how much I love them. That’s the goal.