25 March 2010

The Idea-o-tine

by Tyler Weaver.  Follow me on Twitter.

I've read lots of articles and columns by writers (and non-writers) talking about where ideas come from, what state of mind they have to be in for ideas to flow, and so on and so forth.   And those are great points of inspiration, but I want to go into an area rarely talked about: when do you know it's time to let an idea die?

Taking a page from Monty Python, I ask myself these questions three.  If I respond no to any or all of them, it's time to pull out the pocket guillotine and chop off the idea's cabeza.

Question One: Do I have anything to contribute to this genre? A unique spin?

I love genre storytelling.  I prefer it to "genre-less" storytelling; working within chains is fun and appealing.  Crime fiction, coming of age, political thriller, what have you, I love it.

But, with genre (as with any storytelling form) comes the cold, hard truth that every story has already been told.  The success in any story lies in how we tell it.

If I don't have an interesting spin, I kill the idea.  Who wants to see another generic hitman movie? Not me.  And if I don't want to see the finished product, I sure as hell don't want to spend time writing it.

Off with its head.

Question Two: Do I have anything to say? 

Sort of goes with question one, but applied to theme and message.  Though I loathe message movies, I think everything should say something.  Be it a blog post, a movie, a corporate video, a documentary, or a tweet, if I don't have anything to say...

Off with its head.

Question Three: Can I honestly imagine myself spending years of my life dedicated to this one idea?

Movies take a long fucking time to get made.  Really long.  Money. Actors. Money. Stock. Shooting. Effects. Sound. Not to mention the time it takes to get the script right.  If for one point five seconds I doubt  (I give myself a full second of doubt, beyond that... forget it) my ability to keep on keeping on with a given idea, to be filled with passion daily for it, even in the face of the endless amount of bullshit and fuckery ...

Off with its head.

Ideas are the new currency of the world - and just like we're expected to make sound investments with our money, we have to apply the same approach to our ideas.  If we don't, we'll overflow with things that we aren't passionate about, and who really needs to see passionless projects?

Not me.

Tyler Weaver is a filmmaker, writer, contributor to the pulptone.com website, and is the founder and EIC of Multi-Hyphenate... which you're reading right now.  He's currently making new things and yaks about that and more on Twitter under the creative guise of @tylerweaver.


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