Following up on my previous post about the current projects I’m working on – yesterday Lawrence and I got together to brainstorm the interrogation scene that we plan to workshop together into a showreel piece ( to showcase his acting and my writing) and then eventually shoot.
We started off with the basic premise of two men in a basement/bunker with a table and two chairs. We talked about our characters, the situation that brought them together, threw around ideas, discussed themes, explored motivation – bouncing things ’round to see what sticked.
We ended up settling on an idea that Lawrie threw out there at the start but I wasn’t necessarily so keen on. What made me change my mind was that we hit upon a theme that linked everything together. Suddenly I could “see” it and it all fell into place. Later I realised this is what we were looking for all along – a hook that set up a compelling situation and connected the characters to the story and theme in a dynamic way. Without this hook we would have been left with just another interrogation scene featuring two guys in a room.
I also found myself reacting at one stage to something Lawrence suggested and thinking “That’s such a Lawrie idea!” I wasn’t so keen on it or I should say, it wasn’t my take on the point of view of one of the characters. I admit, this was completely my own prejudice at work here. Again later though I realised this difference in opinion could be used when developing the scene because it could help create a real sense of tension between the characters.
So, what did I learn out of this?
For the most part brainstorming is just about throwing around ideas until you find something that resonates with you and what you want to say. It’s not about finding the right idea, it’s just about finding something that works for you. And when working with two or more people this is vital. If everyone isn’t on board then you’re always going to double guessing yourselves or at odds with each other.
Find a hook or a theme that’s central to your characters and the story. It will give you the thematic backbone that will underpin your story and give you a clear direction to go in – reminding you what to include and more importantly what not to.
And lastly, when working with a writing/creative partner a difference of opinion can be very useful – especially if you can bring it to life through your characters. Do this and then suddenly your characters will start making a stand for what they believe in and arguing their own unique point of view. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, it just matters if it feels authentic. You’ll get some great dimensional characterisation out of it plus the opportunity to hash out an opinion that you the writer feel passionate about without having to resort to exposition.
Come back here for more updates on our progress and feel free to leave a comment with your own take on brainstorming and what you’ve gotten out of it.