Back in the days I ran a touring theatre company, we used to debut 12-16 original one-act plays per year.
Since our audiences knew that these were all penned by yours truly, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be asked, “So where do you get your ideas?” The honest answer – that the plots were inspired by real life, by classic literature, and by historical events – never seemed to satisfy anyone. Writers, they seemed to assume, had access to secret vaults, possessed mystical powers, or received ongoing satellite transmissions from Saturn.
One evening when I was asked this question by an aspiring author, I whimsically responded that I had a subscription to The Schenectady Idea Service and was supplied new plots for $5.00 a month. He thought about this a moment before replying, “Yeah, I figured it had to be something like that since no one could possibly come up with so much stuff on their own.”
Hmm.. . . . .
Although to my knowledge no such service exists, readers this month get the next best thing: A list of 25 free loglines to turn into film shorts. As you pick and choose which ones you like, consider the following elements:
What genre is the best fit for this story-starter?
Who is the hero? Who is the villain?
What is at stake that will compel your character(s) to take risks?
How will the story be resolved in a satisfying manner for your audience?
1. A genie grants your main character a super-power…but only for a single day.
2. A chemistry student makes a huge discovery that his/her teacher wants to steal.
3. Two competitive DJ’s try to boost their ratings through outlandish stunts.
4. A cryogenically frozen body is defrosted a century later.
5. The new owner of a company fires everyone on the first day.
6. A wealthy couple – now suddenly broke – enter the work force as domestics.
7. A teen with no work experience inherits a run-down ski lodge.
8. A musical prodigy finds herself/himself competing against a serious crush.
9. Three astronauts are stranded on another planet.
10. A journalist pens a fake news story that subsequently wins a major award.
11. A new manager discovers that his entire staff is comprised of snarky robots.
12. A thunderstorm and mudslide causes a strange diary to show up in someone’s backyard.
13. A pair of long-distance pen pals exaggerate about their personal lives.
14. At a high school reunion, a woman discovers her former hunky crush is living out of his car.
15. A protagonist who uses a ghostwriter for his/her books is asked to host a cooking show.
16. A well-intentioned parent mistakenly invites his/her teen’s worst enemy on a vacation.
17. A tax preparer makes a massive mistake on a client’s filing.
18. A psychic makes the shocking discovery she no longer has any precognition powers.
19. Two celebrities show up on the red carpet wearing exactly the same outfit.
20. Your protagonist discovers an unattended laptop displaying the code to a treasure map.
21. “Bring your child to work day” has unexpected consequences.
22. A teen comes home well past curfew and discovers the entire house is spookily empty.
23. A previously missed inscription in an old yearbook changes everything.
24. A magician’s trick at a birthday party turns all the kids into mice.
25. The members of a garage band can’t decide on the “perfect” name for their label.
As 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 31 books, 157 plays for young actors, and 5 optioned feature films.