The biggest mistake many novices make it they come up with an idea for a story and then they start writing. usually their idea can push them to complete at least ten pages but once they start reaching twenty pages, they run out of ideas and have no idea what to do next.
Writing a screenplay based on a good idea is like jumping in your car and driving off as fast as you can in the direction with the least amount of traffic. Chances are you won’t wind up going where you want.
Likewise, when you start writing with no plan or structure, you risk writing yourself into a dead end and wasting your time. A much better way to write is to plot your story out ahead of time and the most crucial element you need to plot is your twist.
The twist in your story occurs halfway through. That’s when we realize the first half of the story isn’t the whole story because there’s something from the past that’s been hidden all this time.
In “Alien,” the first half of the story is about making us think the story is about a monster that gets on board a starship and the crew has to get it out. Then about halfway through, we realize what the story is really about.
The starship’s computer has determined that the alien is worth more than the crew so all crew members are expendable if the starship can keep the alien. That explains why the starship landed in the first place and why the android has been secretly working to protect the alien.
What initially appeared like a simple story about kicking out a stowaway alien has now turned into a far more sinister story about being betrayed by the starship’s computer.
In “Shadow in the Cloud,” the first half of the story is about a woman who boards a B-17 bomber about to take off on a mission. This woman brings a mysterious package on board and while in flight, a gremlin attacks the plane that the crew members must fight off.
(By the way, the idea of a gremlin attacking crew members in a ship is based on multiple World War Two stories from pilots that claimed gremlins attacked their plane in mid-air. This idea of gremlins was also the basis for “Alien” as well.)
Halfway through “Shadow in the Cloud,” we learn what that woman’s true goal is. The mysterious package she brought on board is her baby from one of the crew members, and she’s running away from her husband who abuses her.
Where we thought the story in “Shadow in the Cloud” was about a woman and a crew fighting a gremlin, we realize the story is really about a woman running away from an abusive husband.
Study any great movie and you’ll notice that the first half of the story lulls you into thinking the story is about one thing then it twists into the real story that’s been hidden all this time.
When you plan your stories to have a twist, you’ll be able to write more than a dozen pages and you won’t run out of ideas until the end.