Saturday, February 4, 2017

IMDB idea factory.

I spent three years as a background actor in Los Angeles, appearing in a dozen TV shows (like The Office, Sons of Anarchy, Cold Case and Heroes.)

I had a featured role in 2011’s Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne horror movie, Insidious, as a “whistling ghost dad.”

Consequently, I have used the Internet Movie Data Base for quite a while. However, now I use it for generating ideas for novels. IMDB provides a brief plot summary for nearly every movie ever made. It’s a great place for ideas. It couldn’t be any easier if it had training wheels.

For example, Charade is one of my favorite old movies. It is a 1963 romantic mystery film directed by Stanley Donen, and it stars Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George Kennedy.

Here’s the plot summary:
“Suspense in Paris, as an interpreter is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Who can she trust?”

Let’s move it to Las Vegas.

We’ll change the interpreter to a magician’s assistant at the Tropicana. She’ll be pursued by a man who wants a priceless jewel she does not even know she has.

The original story was a thriller with a romance subplot. We could turn it into a new adult story by changing the age of the protagonist. Or we could make it a horror story by adding supernatural elements. Is some monster the real killer? Is the boyfriend a ghost? A number of new writing ideas can be created from one plot summary.

Here’s the one I created from Charade:

A magician’s assistant gets married in Las Vegas, but her husband is killed atop the Stratosphere. She realizes someone is after her but does not know why. She enlists the magician she works for, Rick Thomas, to help her and they discover the necklace her husband gave her is a heirloom worth a million dollars. With the help of Thomas, she leads the police to the bad guy and splits the money with the original owners.

The woman, my protagonist, solved the mystery because women are smart and I appreciate stories where justice triumphs.

Charade also provides a great lesson in foreshadowing. Audrey is searching for lots of money, allegedly stolen by her husband. She handles the cash several times without knowing what it is because it is in a different form. Thus when we all discover it late in the movie, the viewer goes, “Of course. That’s where it was!”

Above from the book NOVEL SECRETS,
available for Kindle for only $.99 cents:

Lary Crews