In fiction writing, many people write stories based on existing novels. Known as fan fiction, these fan fiction stories aren’t meant to be published. Instead, they serve to motivate and inspire the writer to create a story using existing worlds and characters.
If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for a screenplay, create your own fan fiction for a favorite movie. Just keep in mind that you can’t use existing characters and stories in a produced screenplay because you won’t own the rights. However, you can use existing stories as a basis for your own story.
“A Quiet Place” is about blind creatures that attack noise, so the only way humans can survive is by keeping quiet. Yet an early inspiration for this idea came from the movie “Cloverfield,” which was about an alien monster rampaging through a city.
In “Cloverfield,” the monster has smaller monsters clinging to it like fleas, and it was the idea of turning these smaller monsters into threats to people that helped spawn the idea for a monster movie about blind alien creatures attacking people.
The monsters in “A Quiet Place” have no connection to the story or characters in “Cloverfield,” but that’s how you can take an existing story and create a new story. Then cut off any link to the original movie that inspired the idea in the first place.
The Western “High Noon” is about a sheriff in the Old West who has to face a group of gunslingers all by himself with no help from any of the townspeople. That story got “borrowed” and turned into a science fiction movie called “Outland,” which was about the sheriff of a space colony who has to face a group of hit men all by himself with no help from any of the colonists.
The novel “Fifty Shades of Gray” started out as fan fiction based on the characters from the “Twilight” series. Obviously the characters’ names and background had to be changed to be an original story, but this points out how an existing movie’s characters can form the foundation for your own story.
Taking a setting or characters from an existing story makes it far easier to visualize the motivation and appearance of your characters. Almost no one would ever connect “Twilight” to “Fifty Shades of Gray” but that’s the point. Borrow characters or settings from a story you like and put it in your own original story. You may find this can jump start your own story and help you write and plot your screenplay far easier than before.