Resolutions

It’s February. How are all those resolutions you made on New Year’s Day coming along?

January 1st has a longstanding tradition of being the date that everyone equates with a clean slate, a fresh chart, a commitment to reinvention. While over half the population makes resolutions, 22% fail in the first week, 40% after one month, and 60% after six months. It’s not that they didn’t have good intentions. Most of the time it’s just a matter of not having a clearly defined goal to begin with, not creating an action plan to implement it, or setting an unreasonable expectation and then becoming frustrated that it’s not being met overnight. This month’s lesson plans are all about the self-improvement promises we make…and the challenges of seeing them through.

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TABLE TOPICS

These discussion questions provide a good foundation prior to choosing which exercises to try first.

1. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Why or why not?
2. What was the most recent resolution you made? Were you successful at keeping it? If yes, what were the influences? If no, what were the obstacles?
3. Do you think it is harder to break a bad habit or to incorporate a good habit into your behavior?
4. Should you tell anyone what your New Year’s resolutions are or just keep them to yourself?
5. If you had all of the support you needed to steadfastly keep to the code of a resolution, what is it you would most like to change about yourself?
6. What are some ways people could/should reward themselves for the discipline of maintaining a bold new reinvention plan?

DRIVING LESSON

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The crone of Gingerbread Lane has decided to turn over a new leaf and be nice instead of luring lost children to her Candyland house wherein they are never seen again. She has started trolling the classifieds and discovered there are quite a few good jobs to be had in the city. The trouble is that there is no bus stop in the forest and she will have to learn how to drive something other than a broomstick to get to work. She decides that the next two kids who wander into her zip code will teach her how to drive a car.

Your assignment: Write a three-page scene at her first time behind the wheel with Hansel. Write a second scene in which her instructor is Gretel.

GIRLFRIEND VS. GALAXY

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“It’s either that stupid game or me!” The protagonist of your SciFi flick is obsessed with an old pinball game in the trailer park where he lives. (Yes, this is from a real movie in 1984 called The Last Starfighter. Go look it up.) His girlfriend wants him to pay more attention to her, his mom wants him to pay more attention to his chores, and the neighbors are lobbying to have the machine removed because they just think it’s a nuisance.

Your assignment: The hero reluctantly makes a New Year’s resolution that he’s going to stop playing the game and get serious about his studies. A visitor from outer space, however, shows up and tells him that he is the only chance the universe has to protect Earth from total annihilation. Write a three page scene in which he argues that his commitment to do what his girlfriend and mom want is more important. Write a second scene between the hero and his girlfriend in which he tries to convince her that he needs to go back on his word and defend their home planet.

MY TWO LEFT FEET

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The protagonist of the movie you’re writing has never learned how to dance but with the high school prom coming up in two months, s/he resolves to take lessons at the nearby studio. If your main character is a guy, he wants to ask out the cutest girl at school. If your protagonist is a female, she’s hoping that the cutest guy will ask her to be his prom date.

Your assignment: Your main character shows up at the studio for the first day of dance lessons and discovers to his/her horror that the instructor is none other than the object of his/her affections. Write a one-page movie synopsis of how this dynamic plays out.

DECLUTTERIZATION

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“Getting more organized” is a fairly common New Year’s resolution. When closets are about to burst, attics are overflowing, and the home garage can no longer accommodate the family car, maybe it’s time to take stock of why things are being held onto long past their date of usefulness.

Your assignment: The mother in the family-oriented film you want to write has sent her two balky teenagers out to the garage on a mission to clean it up. Items are to be put into three categories – throw it out, clean it up for a yard sale, or keep it. Stuffed back in a corner is a sealed box without any markings. Write a three page scene in which the siblings open that box and discover something they never expected to find.

VACATION DETOUR

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Another popular New Year’s resolution is to get out and about and do more travel. Now retired from a job that s/he didn’t really enjoy, the main character in your film wants to see what the world is like beyond the dreary office cubicle. S/he accordingly books a trip overseas to a dream destination. This adventure, however, does not go accordingly to a well planned itinerary.

Your assignment: Not only does your lead character’s luggage go astray but s/he ends up in a completely different country. Although lodging is found at a local inn, your character is a combination of fretful, anxious and bewildered about what’s going to happen next. Write a three-page scene in which your lead character is joined at dinner by a helpful local. For variety, write this same scene in three different genres – comedy, romance and horror.


ChristinaHamlettAs part of my ongoing commitment to supply great lesson plans for today’s classrooms, I always enjoy getting feedback on how the material is used and what kind of new content you’d like to see in future columns. I’m also happy to answer any questions related to specific problems your students may be struggling with. Just drop me a note at  or through my website at http://www.authorhamlett.com.

Former actress/director Christina Hamlett is an award winning author, professional script consultant, and ghostwriter. Her credits to date include 26 books, 134 plays for young actors, and 5 optioned feature films.