Brainstorming a Premise
You can develop stories in many ways. Some people prefer to write out their thoughts. Some people like to work it out visually. One way is to simply brainstorm ideas. Brainstorming is an exercise in pure creativity. Get a sheet of paper and start writing down ideas. If you like to draw, you can also make simple sketches to work out a story visually.
Take a sheet of paper and fill it with one-line premises for films. The more premises, the better; if your ideas spill over to a second, third, or fourth sheet, that's great. You may even take several days to come up with the ideas, keeping a pad in your pocket to write down ideas as they hit you. At this point, you simply need to generate ideas for characters, stories, or both. These can be complete or incomplete ideas; the goal at this point is simply to free your mind, be creative, and come up with as many ideas as you can.
A sample page might look like this:
Adult can't open childproof bottle
Prank phone calls gone bad
Angry Milkman who delivers nothing but sour milk
How to Climb a Tree, as told by a fish
The cockroach who became president
Dust bunnies brought to life by static electricity
The woman who stole the Eiffel Tower
A hamster who can't sleep because the dog is snoring
A drill sergeant running a flower shop.
Plane with broken enginetwo people, one parachute
Ham and two slices of bread try to convince cheese to make a sandwich
Hot potato, the world's sexiest potato
Spinach on tooth that won't go away before big speech
Stan, the guy who was canned as ham in Spokane
Magician who has a stuck bunny
Big, mean wrestlers playing shuffleboard
As you can see, these are just ideas, not complete storiesdon't worry about whether they will work. Put these ideas away for a day or two, and then go back and review them objectively. For each premise, try to picture exactly how the story will take shape. Remember, a complete story needs three things: character, motivation, and obstacles. Ultimately, one of these many ideas will strike you as the idea for your film. Once you've chosen your premise, you'll need to develop your story.