How Can I Come Up With An Idea? [UPDATED]

Especially when they’ve all been done before.

I am currently in the process of trying to write out the story for the feature length script I will be writing for University starting in September. I have finally settled onto an idea, one that I have been saving for a few years, but I can’t seem to complete it.

The idea draws on my experience of working as a photographer at an American summer camp a few years ago. What I have so far is this;

A photographer starts work at a summer camp in America. He takes some photographs of the campers at the lake, he then gets the pictures onto the computer in the office. As he is looking at them he notices something strange, behind a majority of the children there are shadowy figures looming over them. He is working late into the night and eventually falls asleep at the office. Waking up in the morning the pictures are still there but the shadowy figures are no longer there. He is quickly rushed to a task by his boss and forgets all about it.

Later he is by the waterfront for a social with the other counsellors of the camp. They tell him a story about a man named George Crosby, who was a counsellor a few years back. He got up in the middle of the night, took a boat from the lakes boathouse and paddled to the island in the middle of the lake. The senior staff went looking for him and found the boat smashed into pieces on the shore of the island but no sign of Crosby. They handed the investigation over to the authorities who turned up nothing, they presumed he was washed to the outlet of the lake and must have been dragged to the coast. But sometimes in the dead of night the counsellors have reported hearing shouts from the island. The counsellor who tells the main character this says it’s all just a folk tale they tell to scare the campers to have them not go to the island unsupervised.

[The details of the story are made up, but it is influenced by the tale of Cropsy. Cropsy was a man who lived on the island in the middle of the lake at the camp I was at. There was a row boat which you could see on the shore. It’s been a while since I’ve heard the story so I can’t remember the full details hence why I made my own up]

The photographer is interested in this story, putting the information in the same place of his mind which was pondering the shadowy figures in the pictures. He then gets up and walks to the shore line of the lake. He takes some pictures of the far island but nothing is showing up on the screen. He then places the camera down on a nearby wall and, using the self timer, takes a picture of himself. Getting the camera back he looks at the picture but again, there is nothing there.

—-

And that’s as far as I have got really with the main meaty start of the script. All I know is I want him to go to the island and find some form of portal there to another world/realm/reality/time. My main trouble is deciding what the shadowy figures are. I have toyed with the idea that the shadowy figures, whatever they are, are harvesting souls but I can’t think of a reason why they would be doing that. And obviously I can’t have them kidnapping children because realistically the camp wouldn’t be running still if children went missing every year. Another idea was that they are using the children as vessels to escape their own reality because something bad is happening on the other side of the portal.

It’s just disheartening to know that you have an idea but you can’t seem to get past the cork in your mind that is stopping the flow of creativity. I was having fun developing the idea and then suddenly there’s this wall. And it’s all about cliche, but then, almost everything is nowadays, but obviously as a writer I want to avoid cliche as much as possible.

I have another idea that I may use that I can’t say I’ve seen done before, although it probably has and I just haven’t seen it. But again, I know the setting of the idea, but I can’t seem to fit a story into the world.

UPDATE: 

What I’ve come up with now since writing this article is that Crosby was actually a camper who wandered off at night, and what actually happened was he stumbled onto the island, a blank expression on his face and came across an archway. Upon touching the archway the blank expression left his face as was replaced with terror and confusion as he came back to his sense. Seeing the portal he stumbles back but doesn’t get far away enough to escape as a shadowy arm comes through the portal, grabs Crosby and pulls him into the portal.

I’m still working through what happens on the other side of the portal though, I do know Crosby becomes possessed and he will be the Antagonist of the film.

I have decided that there will be a scene later on where the Protagonist and his love interest, Elizabeth, are in the world beyond the portal and as they learn the plans of that realm, whatever they are, they run back to warn the camp, Elizabeth makes it through but it closes before the protagonist makes it.

So I now have more chunks just the in between bits I will fill out asap.

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20 thoughts on “How Can I Come Up With An Idea? [UPDATED]

  1. This sounds awesome, i envy you and your america trip, i hope i get to do something like that one day, I imagine it was awesome for inspiration, hope you get this story completed, it sounds really good and i’d like to read it 🙂

    1. Thank you (: It was a great experience indeed (:

      If you stay tuned to my blog as I write the script over the course of the next year I will publish excerpts and segments for feedback and to share with my readers so you will get to read it and even be part of the process if you want to (:

      Obviously the dream will be that if I’m happy enough with it that it will eventually get made into a film (: Then you could watch it haha

  2. Most writers hit a wall at some point in their story. It sounds like a great idea so far. I am sure that the right ending will hit you. 🙂

  3. Just a wuick thought – would the beings from the portal world jump through to sip a small piece of essence of the real people & give back something in return? The essence could give them an extra year of life & the gift could be something to help the person with a problem – an idea, strength to face something…
    ANyway if I think of anything else I’ll let you know. Good luck

    1. Hmm this is possible, I wanted them to be evil, but maybe there are a few who don’t agree with the evilness of their race so they’ve been giving people these powers in preparation for the fight ahead or something (:

  4. Do the children actually have to be from while it has been a camp? a lot out out of the way places were used to house isolation hospitals or orphanages maybe the dark shadows were taken before the camp…maybe the camp being built closed the portal for a time but some other event reopened it…hope throwing some thoughts at you helps you get fired up again even if they are no good 😀

    1. The children are at the camp in the present, and the photographer is photographing them for the camps website (: The shadowy figures are the mystery (:

      What i’ve come up with now since writing this article is that Crosby was actually a camper who wandered off at night, and what actually happened was he stumbled onto the island, a blank expression on his face and came across an archway. Upon touching the archway the blank expression left his face as was replaced with terror and confusion as he came back to his sense. Seeing the portal he stumbles back but doesn’t get far away enough to escape as a shadowy arm comes through the portal, grabs Crosby and pulls him into the portal.

      I’m still working through what happens on the other side of the portal though, I do know Crosby becomes possessed and he will be the Antagonist of the film.

      I have decided that there will be a scene later on where the Protagonist and his love interest, Elizabeth, are in the world beyond the portal and as they learn the plans of that realm, whatever they are, they run back to warn the camp, Elizabeth makes it through but it closes before the protagonist makes it.

      So I now have more chunks just the in between bits I will fill out asap.

  5. I don’t know if you’ve already considered it as an option, but what if there isn’t really any sort of mystical being or shade on the island. What if the shadowy figure in the image was just the photographer’s imagination? I think there’s a good obsession and descent into madness angle to have a go at there. Alternatively if you’re dead set on the idea of having some supernatural force you could make them more incidental, a driving force or motivation to the character’s actions? I often find that sometimes supernatural elements in stories are oversold and too in your face.

    These are of course merely suggestions.

  6. Sounds like an intriguing story, Daniel. Whenever I hit a wall with a project, I know it’s time for research. Doing that inevitably shakes lots of ideas loose and sends me skittering in the right direction. Perhaps some random research on shadow men, shadow creatures, summer camp legends. Who knows?

    Good luck!

  7. Well, had you not come up with the version that you did, I would have suggested that you simply put Crosby, being one of the counsellors of the camp, on a night expedition to check on the strange noises coming from the island, since it could result that campers had snuck out to have a party of ghost stories and such; wandering minds of campers. Checking on the island would give him reason to be in a boat; reason for being on the island; and, reason to have gone out of view from the camp.

    When the wall rises to block the view of what comes next, sit back and focus on other things for a bit. Once you’re not trying as hard to make the ideas reveal themselves, they will be there for you.

  8. Hi Dan, what a wonderful story it is already! I always go for the random research option, too, whenever I hit a snag or cannot think of the next step. It always prompts me to write something, often sending me into a completely unexpected direction. If you want the beings from the other realm to be “evil” or just “bad”: it occurred to me while reading your outline that the shadows could be coming to feed on the children’s innocence and joy for life. They don’t snatch the children or physically harm them but turn them into joyless, grey individuals who end up being insurance and bank clerks and Stepford wives…individuals who never have an original thought, never want to change anything, never invent anything…the shadows want the human race to be as ignorant as possible so that humans don’t discover all those wonderful dimensions they could be travelling to…a fairly low budget movie, I guess, but you could make it really spooky nonetheless by showing how the children change gradually through the film. Can’t wait to read what you’ll come up with.

    1. I’d been thinking something along the lines of them taking their innocence, I especially like them wanting the humans to not find their realm or any other. Thanks for your response it’s given me something to think about (:

      1. Innocence, I love it. Glad to have been of help. I thought the shadows might not be really evil, rather underwhelmed by human nature and therefore overly cautious…with a view to protect their realm and others from us…

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