January 28, 2017

Can't Think Up a Good Screenplay Idea? Try Story-in-a-Can

Writer's block is no match for sticky notes in a tin can.

It is extremely difficult to come up with a story, let alone a good one or one that isn't an unintentional rip-off of something else. If you're suffering from a bit of writer's block or if you just want to generate some fresh, new ideas for some decent material, this little exercise might do the trick. The guys over at The Film Look show you how they get their creativity going using a can, sticky notes, and an online random word generator.

Here's what you need to do in order to get Story-in-a-Can going. Get your hands on four tin cans (or whatever receptacle you've got lying around that won't shred up your fingies), and label them with the following categories: "Character", "Location", "Object", "Scenario". Next, use a random word generator (there are a ton online, but this is the one used in the video) to come up with a bunch of words for each category and write each word on a sticky note. From there, all you have to do is pop those bad boys in their respective can and voilà...you've got Story-in-a-Can. All you do is pick a sticky note from each can and write a story using each prompt. Done!

This may not be the catalyst to writing your award-winning screenplay (or maybe so!), but it'll definitely get your creative juices flowing.

How do you come up with story ideas? Let us know in the comments below!     

Your Comment

9 Comments

I dont want to be harsh, but If you're a writer and you need to use this system, probably you haven't nothing to narrate. And so, why do you think you're a writer?

January 28, 2017 at 4:53AM

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Eusebio Abbondanza
Director
133

Hi Eusebio! I don't know if you know this, but people have a lot of different ways of writing! Sometimes it's useful to do some exercises to generate some ideas and think things through!

I can't wait to see what you have to narrate one day though!

January 28, 2017 at 5:06AM

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Thomas Byrne
Student
137

That could have gone a different direction. Good man, Thomas!

January 29, 2017 at 3:29AM

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Kenneth Merrill
Director
1125

I think it's a verte good way to light up creativity; it makes you work to find or create relations and lines between things that don't seem to have one at the beginning.

January 29, 2017 at 3:07PM

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Abi Stricker
Student
403

My writer friend and I do something similar as a warm up - we write a bunch of words on post it notes (the rule is write fast and don't stop to think!), shuffle them together and draw out at random three each for the following categories; "Someone", "Wants", "Needs", "What's in their way". Then we try to create a narrative out of it. I'm not saying we always create gold (though we've generated some interesting ideas) but it's a great exercise and a good way to get our minds ready for some serious writing.

January 28, 2017 at 8:31PM, Edited January 28, 8:32PM

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Simon Lambert
Senior Promotions Producer
74

I personally use a Tarot de Marseille (not the crappy changed Riddle Waite Tarot). After learning it (I use the Jodorowski book), you change easily invent full stories, characters, etc. Quite powerful. It's more a way to extract stories from your brain.

January 29, 2017 at 1:49AM, Edited January 29, 1:49AM

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Vincent Galiano
Filmmaker / Screenwriter / Photographer
319

David Bowie actually used this method to write some of his songs..

January 29, 2017 at 2:47AM

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Rob Englander
business owner/video producer/DOP/editor/miracle worker
179

Really?

January 29, 2017 at 3:03PM

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Abi Stricker
Student
403

william burroughs did this by cutting up newspapers and
scrambling the words to come up with… story lines… etc

January 29, 2017 at 2:14PM, Edited January 29, 2:14PM

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tim matson
writer/photographer/consultant
82