Stuck for a Novel Idea? Steal It From a Movie

Enjoy this post from early on in the blog.

Are you stuck for a great theme for your new novel? You can steal one. Well, not like plagiarism stealing. It's more like getting inspired.

Think about a movie you've watched recently--even if it wasn't very good. Come up with a one-sentence summary of the the theme (this is good practice for your own story). Then imagine the same theme with completely different characters and setting.

Will other people be able to tell you swiped your theme? See if you can guess where these themes come from:

The one thing a character can really do, a skill that gives her confidence and a sense of worth, must be held back and hidden or her identity will be discovered.

What movie is it? Spiderman. I threw you off by changing the sex of the main character. You can do the same thing with the theme you select.

Here's another one:

A character is so focused on how others need to change, that he can't recognize what changes are needed in himself.

Did you guess? It's RV. Robin Williams' character is desperate for his kids to change and want to spend time with him like they did when they were younger. He misses the point that he has let his work come before his family, and has stopped pursuing a relationship with them.

So, the next movie you watch, don't consider it "down time" from writing. Use it to come up with a great new idea.

What have you been watching lately?

Note: I found a terrific post by Creepy Query Girl that speaks to this topic. She shows how the plots of the movies Pocahontas and Avatar are virtually the same. Fascinating.

Have you ever tried this? Where do your plots come from?


  1. There are really only a few different plots in each genre, anyway. The details change, and the characters' names, but the rest is usually pretty similar. This is true with movies as well as books.

    Most of my plots come from my dreams.

  2. You must have interesting dreams! A few of my stories have begun with an image I remembered from a dream.


  3. Very cool! And I admit, I do do this (though I hadn't thought about it in the same terms). Stories are amazing things.

  4. Love this idea, and I am definitely going to swipe it. Hell, I probably already steal all my ideas from things other people have done that have inspired me in my subconscious mind...why not do it consciously?

  5. Right. Writers don't necessarily come up with something new, we just observe everything around us.


  6. Agreed! We observe and get inspired by something others would just shrug about. And we make it cool! hehe

  7. Absolutely! It's a fun way to live life.




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