Thursday, October 15, 2009

Structure and Creativity

"Colors are orange by the wayside fluttle bluff."

The above sentence represents a good number of scripts that people have submitted to me. It's interesting… but it makes no sense! Being different does not necessarily mean you're being creative. I believe we are most creative when we are forced to work with constraints.

Let me explain: When we decide to write a story, or screenplay we've got to start somewhere. And more importantly, we gotta' go somewhere! Characters, themes, plot points, dialogue, settings, etc. I look at all of these elements like a painter would see an endless amount of paints, brushes, and canvasses. Overwhelming! As a writer you have the freedom to choose whatever elements you want. Unfortunately freedom does not always nurture creativity. Often times it kills it.

Now some painters jump right in. They don't sketch, or prepare, they just start making it happen. Some writers can do that too. That's great! But it doesn't mean it'll work for all of us. Personally, I need something to hang my thoughts on without getting lost. No matter what you use… a three act structure, the hero's journey or the six stage plot structure, it's important to not loose your way while you're being creative. Outlining a path actually gives you more freedom to focus on other elements in your story.

I recommend deciding where your story ends first. Then decide where you want it to begin. This allows you to put your efforts into an entertaining scene. Rather than stopping at each crossroad because you don't know where you're going.

I have no doubt that one could get hindered by rigidity. But please… give your story a beginning, middle and end!