WRITE WITH ORIGINALITY
Everyone has an original story to tell. It’s that originality, that will set you apart and without it, you’re going to blend into the crowd and never break free. You’ll never set yourself apart and you’ll always be stuck in a rut. Just another cog in the machine. Remember, if you want to do something great, you have to do something different.
I was on a bike ride over the weekend, listening to The Rich Roll podcast and specifically an interview with James Altucher. During the interview, James goes on to say, if what he writes doesn’t scare him or make him nervous about what people will think, then it may not be worth putting out.
BE NERVOUS ABOUT YOUR WORK
The thought here is, if you’re not nervous about your work, then somebody else has likely already written something similar. You’re not doing enough to break free from the pack and set yourself apart. You’re just producing the same dribble as the next man or woman.
So, there you are sitting at the computer, ready to outline your next great script idea. You decide you’re finally going to attempt that animated film you’ve always been wanting to write. The story opens with a farm girl, taking care of her animals, singing her “taking care of the animals” song. This already sounds like most Disney movies, but hell, just keep swimming right? Wrong! Unless that girl has a horse that’s about to kill her, you should probably stop and re-evaluate things.
Without your own specific voice, your own perspective, your own creativity, we will just have the same stale stories as before. Another King Kong, another Godzilla, another Fast and Furious. This is fine if that’s who you want to be, but keep in mind that you can be so much more than that. You can be better. You just have to be a little more vulnerable and a little more nervous about your work.
But, Sean...What about the writing formula I’ve been taught?
For fuck sake...here we go…
First of all, if you’re following some “magic formula”, then you’ve already lost. In fact, you can stop reading and move onto Facebook because this clearly isn’t for you. There is no formula that you SHOULD be following and if you think you should be, then shame on you for trying to take the easy way out. Be better than that.
In screenwriting and storytelling specifically, there are some essential elements you will want to include. These elements are simple and have NOTHING to do with your originality and creativity. You can still tell a bad ass story and include these three little things. Yes, that’s right, only three. You need a main character, a journey to take them on and show character growth.
Every story has these elements or at least should, otherwise it’s not really a story. It would be more of a series of events that has no purpose. Without a main character, there is no journey, without a journey there is no growth. So, why would I watch this movie? Are you just going to film a guy/girl eating a bowl of cereal?
The point I’m trying to make here is to be a little better than the next person. You have a specific voice, so don’t be afraid to use it. Put your essential elements in the story to set it up but then run wild with it. If you're thinking about where to take your character and the only thing that comes to mind is something you’ve already seen in another movie, then think a little harder. Be original, be different.
In a world where Godzilla has been done 326 times, dare to be the person who writes the post Godzilla story. The rebuild of a life, following the aftermath of a giant dinosaur who breathes some sort of fire. Dare to be the person who writes an animated story where the main character is the prince and not the princess. Hell, have it be the horse who killed the princess, who am I to judge.
The bottom line is, if you’re a little nervous about what someone might think of your work, then you’re likely moving in the right direction. Keep moving that way.