Maybe is an versatile word. It could be used as an unenthusiastic response to an offer. It’s also a way to say “no” without really saying no. In those contexts, maybe is a deflating word, as it takes the possibility of something happening and then casts doubt on the possibility. In screenwriting, “maybe” can be a powerful way to brainstorm ideas, generate story and character arcs, and give helpful notes.
When you’re in the idea phase of writing a screenplay, you want to consider every possible scenario. You’re trying to identify a story and a group of characters that exist in the world, so any stone left unturned could be the lynchpin. In thinking of these ideas, it can help to preface any thought with a maybe. Maybe invites possibility without making you commit to anything. Maybe brings new options and new avenues that may not seem feasible or even good but could end up leading to somewhere productive.
In the brainstorming phase, you don’t want to commit to everything because then you’ll be trying to make it all fit instead of creating it organically. A maybe can be taken to heart or dismissed off the bat, because it only exists as a possibility and not as a fully blown idea. You don’t have to feel bad about abandoning a maybe because it was never anything substantial to begin with. You can never have too many maybes; you can keep producing them without damaging your work.
When you’re giving notes, you want to be supportive and helpful. You also want to make sure that the person receiving the notes will actually listen to what you have to say. Maybe accomplishes both of those things. A maybe is an idea that you had, that allows for the writer to take and run with it. It’s only presented as a possibility, so it’s not a command or an obligation. Anything stronger than a maybe can turn the person off and prevent them from thinking objectively about your note.