There are a dozen brainstorming techniques that aid writers in instantly creating original movie ideas. Think of them as shortcuts to the creative process. One of the best brainstorming techniques is: “The Blank from Hell.”

The way it works is like this. Substitute a noun that has never been used before to fill in the blank. For example, if we substituted the noun “priest,” we would get “the priest from hell. The story that can be spun around it is a priest who’s really working for the devil and is trying to recruit and convert unsuspecting people from his parish to the dark side.

There are many examples of popular produced films that have used this brainstorming technique. Let’s go through some of them.

  • The shark from hell is the adventure Jaws.
  • Staying with the animal theme is the dog from hell which would be the film Cujo.
  • The doll from hell is the horror flick Chucky.
  • The affair from hell would be the thriller Fatal Attraction.
  • The roommate from hell would be the movie Single White Female.
  • The patient from hell would be the Bill Murray comedy classic What About Bob?
  • The mother-in-law from hell would be the Jane Fonda flick Monster-in-Law.

All dozen brainstorming techniques involve using an established formula as a jumping off point. This particular technique only works when you fill in the blank with a noun that has never been seen in any other movie before. Brainstorming techniques are effective because they prompt the writer to improvise on a clearly established platform that has been used successfully many times before.

All twelve brainstorming techniques with examples of the produced films that used them are available on my High Concept CD or Ebook at


Read Steve on Screenwriting by Steve Kaire the first Thursday of the month on Write On! Online. Kaire is a screenwriter/pitchman who’s sold eight projects to the major studios on spec without representation. For more from Steve Kaire, check out his CD: “High Concept-How to Create, Pitch & Sell to Hollywood and website: High Concept Screenwriting.



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