plot Don't Think About It So Much

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I realize this periodically, but was reminded of it while I was putting the pots in the dishwasher this morning: when you're having a problem figuring out a plot point in your screenplay, relax and do something else. Don't focus so hard on it, and often the solution will drift into your mind.

Case in point: I've been working on the climactic scene of my current script, in which the heroine and character X finally defeat the bad guy. Yesterday I realized that X only shows up 10 pages before the end, so that's a problem. I've been trying to figure out how far back in the story I need to introduce him, how much I need to re-write, etc.

This morning I realized that I can use character Y instead, with far less revision required. Y is in the story from page 5 to the end, so I merely need to ramp him up a little bit. I couldn't see that yesterday because I was so focused on fixing X.

Hopefully this helps someone else. And maybe I'll remember it next time I have this problem. :)
 
when you're having a problem figuring out a plot point in your screenplay, relax and do something else. Don't focus so hard on it, and often the solution will drift into your mind.
Works equally well for project management! My distraction of choice is garden re-modelling - nothing like cutting a new path through the undergrowth to resolve some impossible problem. ;) At one point, while working on a particularly challenging project, I got so much inspirational value from many hours spent on my ride-on mower, I asked the tax-man if he'd consider it a works vehicle. He said no ... :tear:
 
I realize this periodically, but was reminded of it while I was putting the pots in the dishwasher this morning: when you're having a problem figuring out a plot point in your screenplay, relax and do something else. Don't focus so hard on it, and often the solution will drift into your mind.
One thing I'd like to add to this great point (which works equally well for composing too), is that when you get that idea, WRITE IT DOWN!

There have been many times when I've been struggling with the direction of the score or the orchestration or how to use the motif differently, so I've gone out for a cycle or a walk and just gently hummed through or thought about it (the car and the shower are good too). As you say, the idea always comes along when you least expect it and aren't thinking about it. But the big problem is that I've often been so unprepared for it to come along that I've ended up letting it drift back out of my mind again and I've forgotten it. The moment's gone and the opportunity's missed.

So be prepared. When that eureka moment comes and inspiration strikes, hold on to it. Write it down in your phone, or in my case I record it or play it on a keyboard (muscle memory helps).

Being a music fan, I can't help but recall Eminem's famous lyrics as I'm writing this (and no I don't mean mom's spaghetti):
Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment would you capture it, or just let it slip?
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when you get that idea, WRITE IT DOWN!
Yes!!! So many of my Great Ideas and Killer Phrases are still out there in the garden, somewhere ... :cry:

When doing a very physical activity, it's not necessarily easy to have any kind of memo pad with you, but in most other environments, I've taken to creating a simple text file on whatever device is within reach, and (if local firewalls and/or mobile data signals permit) synched to either Dropbox or Google Docs, and use that as my "scratch pad" for those moments of inspiration.
 
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