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Old 07-17-2020, 10:49 PM   #41
JoeBanks
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Default Re: Picking Right Idea

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Originally Posted by jonpiper View Post
The play Hamilton is a great example. How hot is the idea of doing a play on the life of Alexander Hamilton? That undeveloped idea is not worth anything.
But it isn't a good or bad idea, is it?
The talent is in having the vision to know it's a good premise. LMM read the same biography by Ron Chernow that thousands of other people were reading in 2008. Any other writer could probably have even seen the usual biopic possibilities. Maybe only LMM's own personal experiences as the son of a NYC immigrant who was raised in Washington Heights in the 80s was the catalyst to fuse the history with the hip hop. But even there, "1776" was a hit musical back in the day so the basic idea of a Broadway show about one of the Founding Fathers is not some obscure premise.

https://youtu.be/WNFf7nMIGnE

Watching LMM perform a piece of Hamilton for the first time in public at the White House never gets old. The crowd goes from laughing at the idea to absolutely buying into the concept in the span of 4:00 minutes.
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Old 07-18-2020, 09:47 AM   #42
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Default Re: Picking Right Idea

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so the basic idea of a Broadway show about one of the Founding Fathers is not some obscure premise.
Joe, I agree with everything you said in your post.

My point is that that basic idea is neither right nor wrong. How does a writer know whether or not his or her idea is right or wrong?

In this case the basic idea led to the idea of writing a story concerning the basic idea and fusing it with hip hop or rap. Was that an example of the writer picking the right idea as defined by the OP? Just asking.
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Old 07-18-2020, 01:02 PM   #43
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Default Re: Picking Right Idea

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Joe, I agree with everything you said in your post.

My point is that that basic idea is neither right nor wrong. How does a writer know whether or not his or her idea is right or wrong?

In this case the basic idea led to the idea of writing a story concerning the basic idea and fusing it with hip hop or rap. Was that an example of the writer picking the right idea as defined by the OP? Just asking.
I mean it kind of becomes a self-proving proposition . . . "If you could have invented Facebook you would have invented Facebook."

We probably don't hear about all the bad versions of Star Wars that never got made before George Lucas's because either (1) they were just bad; or (2) nobody had the vision to see that Flash Gordon serials could be updated for the New Hollywood paradigm with 2001: ASO-level special effects. But in theory anyone who watched The Hidden Fortress before 1973 could have seen the possibilities in it and beat him to the sci-fi punch.
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Old 07-19-2020, 01:38 PM   #44
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Default Re: Picking Right Idea

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-- A great idea is one you can explain in one sentence
-- A better idea is one you can explain with just the title
-- The best idea to pick is one that YOU can write better than anyone. This is key.
I think you might be paraphrasing Michael Hauge
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGYHGc0pTeI&t=24s

Quote:
John August I recall saying if you are choosing which idea to pick -- go with the one with the best ending.
I believe the original phrase is, 'tell a story you know the ending to'...

which I assume was a phrase lawmen in the old west used on criminals to say, 'don't lie...'

Quote:
Also to me the best ideas are the ones you can't get out of your head. Stay with you.
Hollywood has become a used car lot and selling broken down stories to the public. I saw an HBO show the other night and couldn't believe how we've moved from writing stories for the masses -- to selling junkers as new and laughing about in the backroom.
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Old 07-22-2020, 11:54 AM   #45
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Default Re: Picking Right Idea

Never read Michael's book and refuse to click on that link as I assume it's porn. Wait, I love porn. Nope that was just my thoughts off top of head -- sure I absorbed it from many places over the years.

Anyway -- in case I wasn't clear -- I wrote this thread to reach out to the few writers who might hear me. And that's to say -- take time to really consider if the idea you picked to write is good or just the first one you thought of.

No doubt in my mind, a lot of writers just jump in w/o thinking. And of course the other side of the coin is the writers who over think and never write. Somewhere in the middle is the place to me.

Using successful works to me is a bogus argument that isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking to unsold writers and maybe considering if they are unsold not becuase of their writing abliity but of their inability to pick the right concept.
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Old 07-22-2020, 09:30 PM   #46
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Default Re: Picking Right Idea

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Using successful works to me is a bogus argument that isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking to unsold writers and maybe considering if they are unsold not becuase of their writing abliity but of their inability to pick the right concept.
Yeah. Even if a script is well executed, it's probably not going to be easy getting reads off loglines that sound cliche and hacky, generally boring, or too out there for the average writer to pull off.

That's always a fear of mine. I worry my concepts sound too weird to at first glance to be taken seriously most of the time.
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Old 07-23-2020, 01:45 AM   #47
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Old 07-23-2020, 09:16 AM   #48
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Default Re: Picking Right Idea

"Picking the Right Concept" isn't really the problem. It's cultivating the right concept. If you have a rom-com idea it isn't a question of is this the right concept, it's a question of can I develop this concept into an original rom-com idea.

Most concepts that scripts are based on are incomplete/underdeveloped concepts, so how can the script have a chance? It can't. Concepts can become clearer, stronger as they are developed. Sadly, most writers abandon concepts that are not wrong they just need work.
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Old 07-23-2020, 09:24 AM   #49
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Yeah but that's the same thing I'm saying. You could have an idea that's 85% there and it would be same idea as the one I pro writer might go with, but they find the extra 15% that makes it a winning concept.

But sometimes ideas are just bad -- full stop.

However, yes picking the right idea isn't just 1. yes this is good 2. this is bad -- it's about working the idea BEFORE you write to make sure you have the right concept.

When you've been doing it longer (with success) you naturally do this w/o even realizing it.

Try to think of a movie and just take out 15% of the concept and realize how you would never of heard of that movie if they took that part out.

Let me pick Silence of the Lambs. So a writer might think of a fine concept about an FBI agent tracking down a serial killer. And she could have studied serial killers and that's how she finds the bad guy. Maybe that's a movie -- but it's not a hit. The 15% that makes it an amazing concept is that she goes to genius serial killer to get advice on how to catch the other serial killer.

I'm just trying to visualize what I'm saying -- not get in arguments about this particular movie -- which I can easily see happening. It's just an example.

Some people just pick bad ideas and some people are bad are taking their good ideas far enough for them to be great.
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Old 07-23-2020, 10:21 AM   #50
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The transformation/arc of the hero is the 15% you're talking about. Creating the wounded hero and having "current circumstances of plot" challenge then heal them. There's a transformation that happens. That's the emotional resonance.

I've never read an amateur script that had an executed character arc. Characters ended as the same person they started.

Plots have to make it personal to the hero, when they do you get that special sauce. But again, you have to be willing to refine and curate for a week, a month, a year? Who knows. Some people like you say have a knack for it, they know it is essential in a good story and they incorporate it from the start.

Some people give this no thought at all and their script suffers greatly for it yet they don't see it.

I recommend watching videos on youtube. Not the ones with the gurus but there are a ton of ones where real writers talk about the process and the ingredients to story and how they approach them and what do they think about it. I guarantee that 99% of you will say, "I never thought about it like that." or "I didn't do any of that in my script" or "I didn't even think of doing that." Yet you're probably in the mindset of "I'm close, I can feel it."

If Hollywood is the destination, most amateurs live in the Arctic Circle thinking that the next script is their breakthrough script.
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