When a movie is a hit, we call it a blockbuster. But when a screenwriter is experiencing a block, or has reached the Dark Night of the Script (as we all must before the triumphant Break Into 3!), we need to bust that block. Well, I have found the way!

This week in class we had one writer who needed help with his script. The Fun and Games section of his story, a heist tale, was not working. And his Bad Guys seemed pale.

So… we broke up into groups.

And started making lists.

One group made a list of possible ways the heist could take place, who and what was guarding the “castle” that was about to be robbed, what new types of guard dogs could be put on post to protect it.

The other group thought of characters: Who was the Bad Guy? What did he want? Who was on his team of underlings? Should we name the love interest Colette or Olivia? And how could we give each character a unique “limp and eyepatch” to make them pop off the screen.

When separated from the plot, or the need to keep the plot in mind, the list-making exercise was just fun. We could pitch anything, try everything. We even stopped the activity for a moment and said: “Okay, now let’s come up with all the bad ideas we can think of, what should never go into a movie like this?”

And we made a list of those, too.

Result: the world’s fastest fix of a story. The switch of left brain to right brain (I think I got that correct), the abandoning of the need to address the linear plot and just be creative, broke through the block — and some of the ideas we came up with that should never go into a movie like this… wound up being the freshest of the session.

While you may not have a group of eager writers at your beck and call, you can still stop and make lists. You can abandon the need to be be smart, and just be creative in problem solving.

Your blockbuster may be just that if you try to bust your block the right way… and the wrong way too! It works.

I picked Colette by the way. A great name for a love interest!