Writing Contests - Decisions, Decisions

There are some script idea contests coming up that I want to enter, but what to choose? I have a few ideas that attract me, but I have to at least decide on one for a television series and one for a feature movie.


First, let's just figure out the ideas that I have. I have generated a lot of ideas in just the last few weeks in blogs posts. The first step will be reducing them down to a manageable number.

1. An ancient civilization performs secret rituals on horses during their birth that gives them greater speed, grace, and intelligence. A single horn grows from the horse's forehead, and their blood has healing properties. The barbarian hoards surrounding the empire have fought them for centuries, at first to stop the expansion of the empire, and now they want to conquer the empire itself, steal the unicorns, tear down the temples, and destroy everything that has been built through centuries of blood, sweat, and sacrifice.
Without Grey, Juno will die. Juno needs to drink a small amount of unicorns blood everyday to fight off the disease, to keep her alive. Her parents worked for her entire life to pay off the loan they had to take to get Grey; now they are dead, killed by some of the mongrels that invaded the city and burned down her house. A teenage girl and a unicorn on the run in an empire overrun by enemies on all sides. Her parents used to tell her stories of a frozen city across the desert to the north, if they could just get there, everything would be okay. She isn't sure if she can avoid the barbarians, if Grey can carry her that far, if she can make it across the desert; but, what choice does she have?

2. What about a revolutionary technology of some sort that has been half developed by two different firms. Maybe they are commissioned by the same person or organization, but that was intentional, to keep either firm from getting the full ability. I could fairly easily slip back into a more common military type theme here. Let's see if I can keep it somewhat unique. Maybe it's a dystopia where all food has been genetically modified so that you have to activate it with a special chemical to get the seeds to grow, and that is only available from one huge corrupt company. The technology got out of hand and the chemical stopped working. The major food sources such as wheat, corn, rice, potatoes, etc. are all vanishing. Starvation is happening, for the lower classes at least, there is unrest and revolution in the air. The research firms, maybe one is a university and the other is a think tank, have both successfully done one half of the work of getting seeds to sprout again. An ambitious person at each firm is eager to get the whole solution to become rich, governments are eager to get it to stop revolutions, the big corporation is eager to get it so they don't go bankrupt.

3. A young reporter dreams of being recognized and respected. Spurned by the entire media industry in his town for his lack of education and disregard for authority, he strikes out on his own. A friend helps him hack into an online stream of the police radio; he arrives to scenes as fast as the paramedics, police, and firemen. He fears that the police will find out how he is illegally getting his information, or the government will restrict his website, or the media companies in his town will use their power, money, and corruption to crush him. His only hope is to break a big story first and prove them all wrong.

4. In a world where dragons wrecked havoc on humanity until humans learned how to kill them so efficiently that they almost extincted them, or maybe they did extinct them, but then they were brought back into existence through genetic engineering and cloning, but now they are kept in little cages in secret places, and dragons in this world are very intelligent and can have stronger connections with people than dogs or horses. Our protagonist, this rescuer, has some sort of personal back story that very strongly attaches him to dragons and the welfare of dragons. Maybe there is an agency or society that seeks to protect dragons, or maybe to destroy them. He worked for a government agency that seeks to destroy all dragons for the protection of humanity, but then he made a strong connection with one after it saved his life on some mission, he left the agency and now tries to save dragons from both enslavement and destruction with the help of a secret society.

5. Two of the founding members of a space confederacy both have their ambitions set on the presidency next term. In an illegal duel the current Vice President kills his political rival, and his chance at the presidency with him. He colludes with a general (who is also a spy) to form a private army and take the presidency by force. The general abandons him, his army is defeated, and he is captured. The high court exiles him.

6. A garbage man is hoping to be able to send his daughter to college, but her boyfriend doesn't want her to go. The garbage man gets some extra tips for disposing of things for the mob, and his daughter's boyfriend is the son of the mob boss.

Which would work for a series and which would work for a feature?

I think that number 1 sounds like a feature, number 2 sounds like a feature, number 3 sounds like a series, number 4 sounds like a series, number 5 sounds like a feature, and number 6 sounds like a series. This helps to cut down our options a little bit. Let's start with the features.

Numbers 1,2, and 5 are very different stories. A journey with a unicorn vs. corporate spying vs. political ambitions. I feel like different people will like different ones. I could try to decide which one I think will be a better option for winning. I have had this work before. In the sixth grade there was a drawing contest. The person that won would have there drawing printed on t-shirts for the entire grade, and we would all wear it while at Camp Pendalouan. The class would be voting for the winner. I consulted with my dad and decided that the key was to be able to draw votes from both the boys and the girls. A bear would be appealing for the boys, and if I used a fairly majestic walking bear that wasn't showing a bunch of claws or teeth, maybe the girls would like it to. I doubt any of those t-shirts still exist, but I remember being pretty proud of it, and I won.

This contest is a little different; it is probably best to abandon hope at the beginning. Which one do I think would be the most interesting to write? Well, that would be number 5. The story about political ambitions inspired by Aaron Burr. Let's look at it again and see if I can improve it.

Two of the founding members of a space confederacy both have their ambitions set on the presidency next term. In an illegal duel the current Vice President kills his political rival, and his chance at the presidency with him. He colludes with a general (who is also a spy) to form a private army and take the presidency by force. The general abandons him, his army is defeated, and he is captured. The high court exiles him.

I like the first line, it sets up conflict right away. I think the second line might be better rearranged.

The current Vice President kills his political rival in an illegal duel, and with him, his chance at the presidency.

At this moment, that seems better.

In the third line I am a little ambivalent about having the spy piece in there, but it is cool. It adds some depth and intrigue. Maybe I could use "assemble" or "gather" instead of "form." At the end of the third line I could do something like "appoint himself", or "establish himself" rather than "take the." I could also cut "by force."

He colludes with a general (who is also a spy) to assemble/gather/form a private army and take the presidency/appoint himself.

I will have to come back to that.

I could phrase the fourth line differently.

Abandoned by the general, his army defeated; he is captured.

After being abandoned by the general, his army is defeated and he is captured.

I will come back to that line.

The last line could include treason.

The high court tries him for treason and he is exiled.

He is tried for treason and exiled.

Alright, well, we have a few different options to go with in several areas. Let's see what comes together.

Two of the founding members of a space confederacy both have their ambitions set on being President next term. The sitting Vice President kills his political rival in an illegal duel, and with him, his chance at the presidency. He colludes with a general (who is also a spy) to assemble a private army and take office. When the general abandons him, his army is defeated and he is captured. He is tried for treason and exiled.

I tried a few more things on the fly, it seems fairly decent. Let's look at the series and see how that goes; numbers 3,4, and 6.

Number 3 is about the spurned would-be reporter, number 4 is about a dragon protector, and number 6 is about a mafia garbage man. I think the dragon protector is the clear choice. Let's take a look at it and see what needs to be changed, it was stream of consciousness originally, so some stuff definitely needs to be changed.

In a world where dragons wrecked havoc on humanity until humans learned how to kill them so efficiently that they almost extincted them, or maybe they did extinct them, but then they were brought back into existence through genetic engineering and cloning, but now they are kept in little cages in secret places, and dragons in this world are very intelligent and can have stronger connections with people than dogs or horses. Our protagonist, this rescuer, has some sort of personal back story that very strongly attaches him to dragons and the welfare of dragons. Maybe there is an agency or society that seeks to protect dragons, or maybe to destroy them. He worked for a government agency that seeks to destroy all dragons for the protection of humanity, but then he made a strong connection with one after it saved his life on some mission, he left the agency and now tries to save dragons from both enslavement and destruction with the help of a secret society.

Alright, the story sounds confused right now, so let's straighten it out.

Dragons wrecked havoc on humanity until people learned how to kill them so efficiently that the dragons were driven to extinction. Through cloning and genetic engineering, dragons were resurrected, but now they are kept in little cages in secret places. The dragons suffer as highly intelligent creatures, with a stronger connection to humans than any other animal. Liam worked for a government agency that seeks to destroy all dragons for the protection of humanity. On a mission that went bad, it was a person that betrayed him, and it was a dragon that saved him. He fled the agency and now tries to save dragons from both enslavement and destruction with the help of a secret underground network.

I like it like that, but I'm not going to lie, I went back over it twice making small changes.

I think I have made a lot of progress here, and I think these two ideas are solid. I am going to let them rest for a day or two before I submit them, maybe I will make some changes when I read over them again. I have other ideas that I want to develop in other directions in the meantime. This journey is more of an exploration than anything. You are welcome to join me at JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com

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