Posted by: steveonfilm | September 13, 2010

When Is Enough, Enough?

I got an e-mail today from a reader named Paul who had a question about yesterday’s “Brain Storming” post.

Paul and I have e-mailed each other a few times over the last year or so as he’s worked through his first script. So it wasn’t a total surprise to see a question from him in my inbox.

Along with some pleasantries, and an update on his script, Paul asked, “When do you know you’ve got enough stuff from your brain storming? I mean, how much should someone expect to come up with?”

This is a good question, and one there really isn’t an answer for.

In essence, the writer should be confident enough to know when they’ve got enough stuff to start putting together the story. They should be able to just “feel” it, so to speak. Brain storming is going to work differently for each writer because everyone’s head works differently. Some people just need a short forum to toss down some ideas. Others need a place to just write stuff until things start to come into focus. But no two writers are alike, and thus they need to feel out when enough is enough.

For me, when my brain storming starts to turn from characters, relationships, and some key events, and into some sort of subset of an outline, that’s when I know I’ve got enough.

My goal for my brain storming is to figure out who the characters are, what their relationships are with each other, and come up with the ending. That’s really it. Along the way I’ll jot some some scenes I might want to explore. But other than that, I leave the story structure up for the outline.

Sometimes this happens quickly. Sometimes it can take me a long time. I’m still a long way from working through my ideas and concepts for my current project. The Collector took a long time to brain storm. Served Cold came much quicker. As much as it varies by writer, it also varies by story.

But I’ll go back to my original point, when you start outlining your story that’s really a key indicator that you’ve finished brain storming. How long it takes you to get to that point isn’t important, it could be days or months. What is important is that you keep at it and not get discouraged.

Until next time, keep writing!


  1. I am also trying to write a short film noir detective story and would appreciate any advice you could supply


    • No problem.

      What sort of questions do you have?

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