Blockheads Part 2: The Found Object

A few weeks ago, I posted an article on the most virulent of scribal ills, that nasty little bug known as Writer’s Block.

Today, I’d like to talk about a tool that may help you, dearest ladies and lords, overcome that block – the “Found Object” exercise.

I believe the Found Object tale, whether in print, film or music, to be the quintessential representation of Story. Why? Because the creation of such a fable requires absolute strength and flexibility of mind. The Found Object demands imagination, which is what the writer must strive to be in total possession of:

Charlie Kaufman, through the presence of Brian Cox-as-Robert McKee, has a point. There is drama in everything. Everything.

Your job as a writer is to find that drama.

So. What’s the exercise?

Discover an object. Then, create a story around it.

Suppose you are walking down a street. You discover a discarded cigarette on the sidewalk. Observe it:

Is there lipstick stained on it? Was it crushed beneath a foot, stamped out, or left to burn on its own? What brand is it? American? European? Expensive? Dollar Store cheap?

Who discarded it? Why? Was it thrown down in anger? Was it smoked in order to suppress an emotional response? Is the person who smoked it a first-timer, a social smoker or a hard core tobaccohead? Did the user purchase it – or was it proffered by another? If the latter, what was the relationship between these two people at the time of that first drag? Friends? Lovers? Enemies? Business acquaintances? Strangers?

Create your answers. Cull through them. Craft your story. Build your characters. Build them well.

Papa Hemingway managed it in six words:

“For Sale: baby shoes,  never worn.”

Now, go write.

HRH, Princess Scribe

What I’m reading: The Velveteen Principles, A Guide to Becoming Real by Toni Raiten D’Antonio

What I’m watching: Twenty Bucks, a gem of an indie Found Object film

A Royal Shout Out: To Will Akers. Robert Ebert tweeted the availability of Will’s book, Your Screenplay Sucks, on Kindle today. You go, Will. Your book is stellar.

About princessscribe

Screenwriter. Creator of things. I love tacos. "Midlife on Fire" Volumes 1 & 2 now available at
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