Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Simple Plan

Ideas. Where do they come from? Its a familiar question, one that authors are often asked during a book signing or when being interviewed. All writers know that ideas come in all shapes and sizes and are everywhere, in the people we meet, in the things we hear on TV and read in the newspaper, and in our past experiences or those of others.

The truth is ideas are all around us. All of us are bombarded with ideas each and every day. Successful writers however, have trained themselves to recognize these nuggets and know what to do with them. Published authors are willing to spend the hours it takes to put these ideas, these nuggets to work. They begin by asking "what if"....

The idea: what if three men find $4 million dollars in unmarked bills and decide to keep it. What if these same men agree to a plan that will let them safely keep the money?

A Simple Plan is a film about three men, Hank, (played by Bill Paxton), his simple-minded brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton), and their friend Lou (Brent Briscoe), who find a bag full of money in a downed plane and decide to keep it. The plan is that Hank will hide the money in his house until winter ends, and then the three of them will divvy up the cash and move away. They promise to tell no one.

Plotting the story: What if things go wrong, horribly wrong. What if the sheriff shows up. What if the secret is shared. What if someone else wants the money. What if someone dies?

A writer can learn a lot about motivation and character development by watching this film. A questionable decision is the basis for this film and layer by layer the story is revealed.

What if you sit down and spend some time asking your character what if? It really is a very simple plan to use when writing your next novel.

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