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If you want to make it in Hollywood, study successful Hollywood writers' work. Breathe it in and contemplate it. Note your thoughts—mentally or physically. Then do your own thing. In other words, be original through the Hollywood formula—for the best chance at Hollywood success.
To keep audiences watching, your main character needs a false goal and a true goal. What will be the true goal of the story you're developing? What is the conflict that is much different and much scarier (or more interesting, or deeper) than the one the main character tries to resolve during the first half (or so) of your story? A riveting story may depend upon answering this question with originality and great thought.
Successful screen stories tease the main character and the audience with false goals. When developing a movie idea, think of a goal the main character will chase—convinced it is the solution to the problem at hand—for about the first half of the story. This goal will turn out to be meager, and perhaps impeding—in comparison to the real conflict the main character must resolve.
If you need a movie idea, try reading a wealth of diverse information. For example, start with a novel you wouldn't normally pick up, then maybe a history work, followed by a restaurant menu, various newspapers, and a humor website. Let all the information you collect stew and steep in your head to create a richly flavored idea, and then start writing.
Many screenwriters find index cards essential. One use is as a place to jot ideas, which can come at anomalous times. Always keep some close, along with a pen, just in case. Ideas collected on index cards might help you outline a story—the cards make your elements easy to shuffle.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|