In today’s massive and largely competitive film industry, it’s becoming harder and harder to stick out of the screaming crowd of like-minded individuals begging to get noticed. 

You may feel that every story has already been told — so what’s the point? 

Here’s the thing, so what if almost every type of story has already been told? They’ve technically already been told thousands of years ago — and ever since, we’ve been telling different variations and perspectives of those same exact stories. 

So, the point is…tell the story you want to tell. Find your distinct vision and voice that’s different from everyone else. It may be a similar idea or concept, but the fact that it’s yours makes it unique and special. 

Literally anything can be a story. But not everything is story worthy. 

Executive producers and industry professionals are in constant need of unique and compelling stories worth telling. This is why it’s important that you learn what elements make up compelling stories so that when the time comes, you can use them when pitching to a film producer or director. 

If you’re looking to get your story idea produced and funded, check out our one-sentence pitch competition for the opportunity to receive funding up to $10,000 for your film as well as other prizes.

Below, you will find a list of elements in compelling stories you should consider when brainstorming for new creative story ideas to pitch with. 

Does your story have conflict?

Like I mentioned before, anything can be a story — but not everything is story worthy.

For example, take a look at these two short story ideas:

Story 1: A young man decides to join a fraternity.

Story 2: A young man decides to join a fraternity, but little does he know the fraternity is actually a satanic cult full of serial killers looking for new victims.

Which of the two stories do you find more interesting? If you chose the obvious answer (Story 2), this is because Story 2 has conflict.

Conflict acts as the building block of your story. It’s the spark that lights the fire that is your story. Without it, your story won’t really have a story — and it will be dull and meaningless.

Audiences love watching characters struggle and grow. They’d much rather watch a film with characters going through constant adversities in order to achieve their goals, rather than characters who are simply handed everything.

Conflict creates tension, suspense and uncertainty — whether it’s a protagonist struggling with their own inner demons, or a protagonist combating an antagonist with opposing views or goals. We want to find out and see if the protagonist will win or lose at the end.

Does your story have interesting characters?

When coming up with story ideas, make sure you know who your characters are and what they want.

Movie producers looking for the next great idea want a story with compelling and interesting characters. They want audiences to root for and relate to them — not despise them.

Characters are interesting when they’re complex and human. As mentioned before, a good story is one where characters go through some kind of struggle and adversity. Audiences want to see characters grow and develop instead of stay the same throughout the film.

Perfect characters aren’t interesting — flawed characters are. This allows room for conflict and growth.

Does your story have a theme?

A family holding hands

What is the underlying theme of your story? What do you want audiences to learn and take away from it?

Theme is another crucial component to consider when coming up with a narrative story idea. Whether you’re coming up with a horror story idea or a romantic comedy, your story should contain some sort of theme audiences will pick up on.

I’m certain that if you look back at all of your favorite films, you will be able to pin point the themes for each film. Almost every story you watch or read will try to convey a specific lesson or meaning audiences can see and use in their own lives. This generates more emotional connection, especially if the thematic message hits home to your audience.

Is your story marketable?

Producers are looking for story ideas that can sell and ultimately make money.

Although it’s important to come up with a story idea that interests and intrigues you, you shouldn’t completely disregard the market.

When you’re thinking of an idea for a story, think about your target audience. Who will want to see this? Which type of people will my story connect with the most?

When you figure out who your audience will most likely be, you’ll have a better idea of the story your trying to tell and market.

Make sure to decide on a genre for your idea — that way you can research and learn from other films within that specific genre. If you’re interested in writing scary stories, research popular films within the horror genre that have received critical acclaim. What makes audiences react to these stories in a positive way?

Learn your story’s genre and conventions and try to incorporate a fresh new take and idea within that genre that hasn’t been done before. This will spark interest in your target audience and will make them want to go see your film.

Your story also doesn’t have to be original to make money. Your story idea can be an adaptation of a book, video game, or some other type of work that already has fans and an audience.

Production companies and movie producers are looking for books and other pieces of work to adapt, constantly. They know that it will be easy to sell because the idea already sold and has die-hard fans. This typically will reduce the risk and anxiety of creating an entirely new idea from scratch.

If you’re solely interested in generating original stories, that’s great! The world is in constant need of fresh new ideas and voices.

The main thing is to not feel discouraged in your work. If you need a little help coming up with an idea, don’t get stressed. Instead, do some practice exercises to get your creative wheels turning.

Use a story idea generator online and write a story based on the prompt given to you. This can give you story plot ideas or characters you haven’t even thought to consider.

Write every day if you can — whether it be a short story or a journal entry. This will only improve your writing and your creative process. It will also help you immensely when trying to come up with your next fictional story ideas.

You don’t need to attend film school or have a degree in film to come up with interesting stories. Ideas can come from anything and everything — such as your own personal experiences, inspiration from other fictional stories, the news, friends, family, etc.

You don’t need to be in a classroom setting to come up with an idea. Think about Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, or Christopher Nolan. These widely popular and successful filmmakers and storytellers never even step foot in a film school.

This should tell you that anyone is capable of coming up with the next big movie idea. So get out there and get inspired.

If you have an idea or script that you’re eager to get funded and produced, check out our funding opportunities for the chance to win up to $10,000 in funding for your film.

18 Comments

  1. Ever heard of an element stronger than Diamond yet it breaths and lives as sure as the birds wings that flap and make it fly. Ever heard of an Element in nature that can read minds. Im putting together a story, part fact part science-faction and partly my testamony and lifes story. I need to know from you.. where do i go to get my story released to the public on a mass scale? Please respond

  2. I am a Kenyan and i have an interesting story that I am in need of your help to showcase to the entire world coz it’s really my talent of composing stories it’s more of a soap opera

  3. Hey. From a half part real time story came up with a movie idea. Would be twisted, detective followed serial killer. Who’s pushed away from his big family, trying to do the right thing. Living in the lie, falls life, trying to prove he’s normal.

  4. Hi iam veeraraju. iam a writer and i wrote a story 7 years my dream but how to do Tollywood industry submit my story but not peoples support in my life place take my story. This story is. Maha kalki janmastal sambhala kingdom very dangerous subject in himalayas.

  5. aurelio illera

    My conversations with Satan

    I was with my girlfriend in Toronto (Canada) and we went to see the highest building in
    the world with 147 floors. I was over the moon, so excited about what we were going to see. I told my girlfriend:
    – Sweetie, today is a different day, what you are going to see will stay in your memory for the rest of your life. When we go down to the 147th floor we’ll go to the jeweller to remember the day and the hour of this moment forever.
    She nodded to show agreement.
    – You will see, to watch the birds you have to look down as they can’t fly so high. And cars… they just look like small toys from there.
    The building stood out in the streets like a giant between dwarfs.
    We got to the CN Tower and went to the lift, hand in hand. We let everybody go first and we were the last ones to embark. When I saw the control panel it seemed to me that I was in a plane as all the lights were on. I pressed the last bottom and I realised that there was a negative sign, I didn’t care though, I was so excited that nothing could harm me.
    Suddenly the doors closed very violently, as if they were upset. If we would have been caught between them, they would have cut us in half. The lift started going up until the first floor but it changed direction and started going down to the basement. It was like the wild bulls when they go backwards just to gain momentum (long story short, the lift was out of control)
    It went down to -1 floor, people started banging the doors, but they didn’t open. Same thing happened in -2 floor and in floor -3. People started crying and blamed me for pressing all the bottoms. They lift kept descending and we could only see the soil though the windows. Latter on, we went through the water (not sure if it was an ocean or a lake. There were some strange fishes without eyes) the lift was going down and when we saw the soil again, the brightness came through the windows. ‘It was lava’, I said
    – This lava river feed all the volcanos of the Earth, Krakatoa, Etna, Ruiz, Teide… Be happy! We’ve seen something nobody has seen before so far!

    I think they saw me as a new Moises and thought: he took us here and he took us out of here for his own good.

    Finally, we arrived at a place where there were millions of people. It was very hot and everybody was naked. The doors opened, my girlfriend Olivia and I were the first to go out of the lift (we got in the lasts, but get out the firsts)

    Everybody was naked but us. I realised they looked at us out of the corner of their eyes. I saw two people and I realised I knew one of them, so I approached him and said:

    – I know you, I know who you are, you are Rasputin, aren’t you?
    – Yes – he said- how did you know me?
    – Easy, for your Russian accent, the way you walk and because you have a sign with your name on your back .
    – Oh, I see… I was the Tsar advisor, his wife’s advisor and the little Tsars’ too
    – Who are the little Tsars?
    – The Tsar’s children
    – Oh, I understand now and who is your companion?
    – Me, Mr Nosy? My name is Daniel and first time I saw the sun, I was in Spain. I have problems with my eyes since then – said squinting his eyes- I was an amazing crocodile hunter. One day I was walking though the Nile bank and I saw the biggest crocodile you can ever imagine. His eyes were closed and his mouth was wide opened. I went closer to him, but he didn’t move. Then, I thought if I put my hand inside his mouth and I get to the tail and push he won’t bite me (it will be like turning a sock inside out).
    So I put my head between his jaw and then the rest of the body. I saw it was very dark inside. I opened my rucksack to get a torch so I could see better. I switched it on and the crocodile mouth closed automatically with me inside.
    What do you think about the story Mr Nosy? As I told you the story, it would be nice for you to give me some cash- said with his hand open.
    – What?! Even in hell people ask you for money?
    – Here more than in any other place, cold beers are so expensive- said Daniel

    My girlfriend Olivia came over and grabbing my arm she said: ‘Let’s go Marco, people here are so weird’.

    We kept walking through a corridor surrounded by people. At the end of it there were five people blocking the way. The one in the centre asked me:

    – Bad afternoon, do you know who am I?
    – Yes, you are Satan
    – How do you know?
    – Because of your eyes, they are like big tennis balls, your nails are like an eagle that hasn’t had a manicure for a long time and because of your tail that you are dragging and everybody is trampling on it.
    – Ahhh! How did you get here if you are not on the list I receive everyday? Answer!- he shouted
    – It was my fault, Sat. I pressed the wrong bottom and instead of going up, we went down to the abyss.
    – Why do you call me Sat?
    – Well, I’m from Madrid and we tend to shorten names. A woman called Maricarmen is called Mari, Concepción is called Conchi and a man called Francisco is called Paco
    – And what if his name is Shitan?
    – Well, there are some exceptions (How cruel he is- I thought). What have they done bad to be here in this heat?
    – Most of them are here for being ungrateful, the others for cheating on their partners. I have a problem, though
    – Which one?
    – This morning an old Christian man came in, he did a lot of good things, he saved a lot of lives, he gave food to people… but when he was dying he said a word for which I have to keep him here for a long time.
    – What did he said?
    – Damn it!
    I said to myself, hell must be full of daft people

    To be continued…

    (Damn it)

    – Hello, Here I show you a possible idea of a film script for any movie producer. I hope you like it TELF 644598935

  6. My name is Lyenor Nkosi I have published a book titled hurt but not broken a true biography story .I am hoping to seek for an opportunity to produce my real life story into a movie project. Please refer to the link of my book to get the summary of the story click the link i have provided below https://www.iuniverse.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/792248-hurt-but-not-broken

  7. I would like to have a story written about my past life with an absesive man I was married to I was tortured and bullied on a dailey basis he made me live in the worst conditions and I had a daughter who he controlled as well my story is about how I came out of this life to find a better life for myself as he was arrested and charged for cruelty

  8. Sadanand J

    I way to submit my fiction work Kusuma to make a beautiful film.

  9. I have a sequel story to a movie i really liked. Will producers accept that? I followed the rules and everything in fact, the story is perfectly laid out. My friends tell me to give it up but, i really want to try. So is there hope for my sequel? And i how could i contact the producers?

  10. I wrote a story about apocalypse espylacopa it’s very interesting can you help me publish it

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