Views From Your Muse

I'm a Blinkin' Screenwriter
Late night thoughts after reading Blink
By David Trottier

I just read Malcolm Gladwell’s popular book Blink and found a couple of ideas that are relevant to screenwriting.

A study conducted by Dutch researchers found that ordinary people who thought about what it would mean to be a professor for five minutes before a game of Trivial Pursuit did significantly better than players of the same intelligence level that thought about what it would mean to be soccer hooligans before the game. As reported by the researchers, the first group of people did better because they were in a “smart” frame of mind (Blink, page 56).

What frame of mind are you in when you write?

Have you considered a brief “warm-up” of some kind to put yourself in a “successful screenwriter” frame of mind? My personal observations are that writers do better when in a relaxed mental state as opposed to an uptight frame of mind. Get into the spirit of the occasion: after all, you are a screenwriter.

* * *

Elsewhere in the book, I found a tip from an improv player. Even though improvisation seems spontaneous, there are guidelines that players follow in most improve theaters. Here’s one of those guidelines: “If you think of something you wouldn’t want to happen to you or to someone you love, then you’ll have thought of something worth staging or filming” (Blink, page 114).

That “something” may be an important dramatic or comedic plot point in a screenplay you are writing. When you hit upon such an event, follow that train of thought until it derails or brings you to an exciting destination. Good luck and keep writing!