Welcome back to The Write Stuff! Yes, this is supposed to be interview Wednesday, but I'm learning it's mighty difficult to track down writers every other week, especially when they're all madly banging out scripts before the possible writers' strike. So I'll conduct the interviews as they come up, probably closer to once a month. To make up for it, I'm dipping back into the mailbag again this week to answer some more of your questions.
I'd be interested to know about ways to come up with story ideas. I often feel I can write really good dialogue but my plot content is just not good enough.
Pretty standard problem. This is why most movies you see have a "Story By" credit and a "Screenplay By" credit. With several exceptions, those who are great at coming up with stories and ideas struggle with dialogue. Often, those who can write hilarious banter or intelligent conversation have problems with story. Those who can do both are highly sought after. If you can't, consider hooking up with a writing partner. The trick is finding one who doesn't have the exact same skills as you. Find someone who complements you. Writing classes or groups are the easiest ways to find a match, but if those aren't available to you, maybe just start sizing up your friends. Are any of them creative storytellers? Would he or she be interested in writing? Ask your friends for movie pitches, and if you like one of them, see if he or she would like to sit down and crank it out with you.
But maybe you don't like working with others. If that's the case, the best advice I can give you is to open a newspaper. Insane, movie-ready things happen in this world every day, and newspapers and magazines are chock full of great jumping-off points for a script.