Monday, 9 August 2010

From new words and newspaper articles come ideas for filmscripts, stories, novels and characters

I first posted this article on my personal blog but thought it might be helpful to post it here too in order to show where and how writers can get ideas for stories and characters. http://www.paulinerowson.com/

I've just come across a word I've never heard or read before, which isn't all that surprising because there are hundreds of words I don't know. This one came from today's edition of the Daily Telegraph in an article covering the release of the files by the Ministry of Defence to the National Archives about the suspected UFO seen over England by reconnaissance aircraft during the war, and which prime minister Winston Churchill ordered to be kept secret to prevent "mass panic". At first I thought the article in the Telegraph contained a misprint (never!) then the word appeared a second time. Curious, I asked my husband, a Telegraph cryptic crossword buff, what it meant and even he was puzzled. So out came the dictionary and I was amazed to discover it's something I've been doing for twenty years without realizing it. Intrigued?

Maybe not. The word is 'redacted.' Of course you might be rolling your eyes and scoffing at me, 'everyone knows what that word means,' but I didn't. The Pocket Oxford Dictionary in my office says 'redaction' means ' Putting into literary or publishable form, editing or re-editing.' And editing and re-editing is, as I said above, what I've been doing for years.

It's great to learn a new word, or indeed to learn anything new like the possible sightings of a UFO over Britain during the tail end of the Second World War. Wouldn't it make a great film script, set against the backdrop of war torn Britain, no one believing the reconnaissance crew at first, then the fear that it might be a new deadly weapon, before the realisation that it is a UFO...and what happens next??? Oh, I can feel a story coming on. Not an Inspector Andy Horton crime novel, of course, but a historical/sci-fi drama. Any film producers reading this who would like to discuss my idea or commission me to write a film script I'd be only too happy to oblige.

But from one new word and one fascinating article you can see how an idea for a novel, short story, or script can develop. You would then need to take that idea and work it up, build in a cast of characters whose motivations will again drive the story. And that brings me back to where I started, what kind of character would actually use the word redacted? Your creative exercise for today is to build a picture of said character.

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