The Plot Thickens…
April is winding down. So too is the 30-day writing challenge I joined this month. To be honest, I didn’t quite crack the whip as hard as I could have. I did complete many of the challenges (not all), and even had my children take part in some of them. I consider that a win. The challenge was to make writing a daily occurrence and think about it from a different angle. I often write for clients anyway, so that helps. But the different perspectives of the challenges got me thinking, which was the point. I consider that a success.
So What’s the Point?
Today’s challenge was to think about plot. As boiling down a story into a concise description can sometimes be challenging, it makes for good practice. The assignment: think about your ten favourite movies and write a one-sentence description of them. The description essentially strips down the whole movie into its plot.
But do I have ten favourite movies? Hmm… Maybe I could use books? How about we give it a whirl and see what we come up with.
The Plot Thickens…
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – A habitual dreamer is forced to face the real world with amazing consequences, insight, and inspirational results.
- Lord of the Rings – An innocuous ring spawns an epic adventure to avert evil world domination, featuring an unlikely assembly of characters who must put aside their differences in the name of good.
- A Christmas Story – The lead up to Christmas inspires young Ralphie to concoct any way imaginable to get the perfect Christmas present—a coveted and much-maligned Red Ryder BB Gun—with hilarious results.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show – A seemingly random breakdown in the middle of nowhere for a newly engaged young couple opens the door to a sexual misadventure they never dreamed of—set to raunchy, but oh so catchy camp tunes.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas – Bumbling family man Clarke Griswold is at it again; trying to set the stage for the perfect family Christmas, with plenty of funny and typical disasters along the way to make you question whether Christmas will survive the long-standing Griswold curse.
- Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life – A British comedy troupe captures the meaning of life in a series of off-humour skits about birth, sex, food, and death—what else is there in life?
- Wallace and Gromit – A British cartoon series featuring Wallace, a bungling, cheese-loving Brit prone to misadventure, and Gromit, his intrepid beagle who keeps him from harm’s way with his many inventions and quick-thinking actions.
- The Neverending Story – A chronically bullied boy stumbles across a book—”The Neverending Story”—while hiding from his tormentors in a book store; but is it happenstance that he finds this fantastical tale of a world dying for lack of imagination or fate the likes of which might change his and the characters in the novel lives forever?
- Big Fish – A disgruntled man returns home to visit his dying father and recounts the many preposterous tales his father weaved throughout his childhood, only to learn that maybe they weren’t quite as preposterous as they seemed.
- The Wizard of Oz – A girl runs away from home looking for a better life, only to discover that there’s no place like home and all the family and friends who live there.
I did it! And I even had a few other movies come to mind once I started writing; The Sound of Music, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Dark Crystal, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Stand By My, Brazil, Mars Attacks… Apparently I have watched a movie or two in my days. But I am not going to write plots for all of them. Suffice it to say that I see an overwhelming theme that centers around feel-good comedies and characters who overcome all odds to find a deeper understanding of life, regardless of how skewed it may seem at first glance.
Plot it Out
Aside from an interesting exercise into my personal psyche, this challenge is also good practice to distill a whole story into a simple summation. Kind of like a book blurb on the back flap of your favourite novel. Maybe you should try it too? Write the plot of your ten favourite movies. How about the plot of the book or story you are working now? Use the exercise to help your focus and see what the result is.