Plot & Structure Exercise 9: Scrap the Crap

In chapter three we find a quote from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. These Hollywood producers are shooting the breeze, coming up with movie pitches, when one of them say, “That isn’t an idea, it’s an notion. If we put some money into it, then maybe we can turn it into a concept.” Something like that.


Essentially, in this vein of churning out ideas, some of them will be wack. Others spectacular. But in the process of eliminating the mediocre ideas, we can also develop the ones which stand out to us.


So, today’s exercise asks for us to pick one of the ideas from the previous day, and expand on it. How?


You write a hook (the main idea, that grabs you). Next a line (the plot in two or three sentences). And then sinkers. What are sinkers, basically you want to attack your idea, and shake off the ugly parts.


For example, I had imagined a 2000s Spanish drama remade with cavemen. The hook could be the what-if, but modified: “Did cavemen fall in love?”


The line could be: “A promiscuous cavewoman leaves her abusive relationship with the first caveman writer in history, in search of freedom. She winds up on an island where she discovers the caveman’s original family. In the end, she must choose between her old lover, a new friend, or freedom.”


Now . . . for the sinker. Let’s tear this apart!


Is the story original? I think it’s a nice take on a classic indie flick. How could we make it more original? Instead of the lover being a writer, maybe he is a craftsman of bows and arrows. Instead of Spain, we can set it in ancient Mesopotamia!


Is the setting interesting enough? I think so . . . it could benefit from some detailed descriptions of nature.


Are the characters interesting? C’mon! Cave people? One going out of the cave, finding an island, developing cognizance. She would write herself.


Are the stakes high enough? Let’s add some pumas, snakes, and bears. Death looms around the bend for these early humans.


Is the title good? Since the original was called “Lucía y el sexo” and there was that old humanoid called “Lucy” I’m sure we could find a sexy, exotic balance, and call our story and it’s protagonist: Luci.


Are there any other ideas we could steal or borrow from other stories? This one is pretty solid on its own, if you’ve seen the film. But I’m sure intense Apocalypto fighting scenes, and low-brow Year One comedy would come in handy.


And . . . omgosh, so silly. I’m done here. But you get the idea.

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