Another highlight of this year’s Maui Writers Conference was screenwriter Michael Arndt’s Saturday Nnght keynote.

Michael suffered through years of trying to get his screenplays produced . . . to no avail.

Then, one night, he was watching the Jon Bennet Ramsey trial on TV and they played a video clip of a “Little Miss” beauty pageant.

Michael watched the elaborately coiffed, dressed like a blonde “Stepford doll” 6 and 7 year olds prance across the stage and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if a rather plain, rather plump girl entered the contest and rocked the house?”

Thus was born the idea of the Academy Award-winning screenplay and movie “Little Miss Sunshine.”

When an audience member asked, “Where did you get the ideas for your fabulous characters?” Michael smiled and said, “Well, our family went on vacation one summer in a VW bus, and the clutch . . . .” The audience erupted in laughter. (If you saw the side-splittingly funny movie, you know why.)

Michael went on to explain that much of what happened in that movie happened to someone he knew. He had an uncle who was obsessed with becoming a pilot. After going through all of the testing, he came to the final requirment . . . and failed the eye test. That poignant story line made it into the movie.

The point? When something unusual happens around you, make a note of it. Figure out how to include iit n your book, presentation, article or blog post. If it caught your interest, it will probably catch other people’s interest too.

This is just one of 20 ideas I shared in my MWC presentation entitled Where Do You Get Your Ideas? If you want a copy of the handout, email me at and we’ll send it to you.