This is the eighth year in a row I've run this series in April. Why a story idea each day for the month? Several reasons which I'll work my through during this series of posts. Here's another one:
The story idea is how everyone in Hollywood short-hands your script.
From the first moment your script enters into submission process, where it's covered and at the very top there is a logline, through the marketing of your movie, where posters, newsprint, radio, TV spots, and web content all derive from it, your story idea is the touchstone for everything that happens.
So over time, I think it is fair to say that story ideas have become the lifeblood of Hollywood, what people traffic in all day long. The more you can think like that, play to the way Hollywood people interact with stories, the better your chances of success in the business.
Today's story idea: The Crazy Story of the Professor Who Came to Stay — and Wouldn't Leave.
It's not easy to evict someone in California. Usually that's a good thing.
Elizabeth Abel walked up to the front door of her house for the first time in four months and rang the bell. She'd just flown halfway around the world to drop in, unannounced, on the man who'd taken over her home.
When he came to the door, Abel says, the man didn't seem surprised to see her — or the police officer standing beside her. "Oh, hi," he said.
Abel peered behind him into her living room, which was practically empty. Most of her furniture was gone: a dining table and four chairs, two easy chairs, an antique piece. Her books and rugs were nowhere to be seen. Even the artwork had been taken off the walls.
As Abel walked around the place she'd called home for three decades, she had the distinct feeling that her life had been erased. In the family room, a small sofa, a table, and a television had been removed. Out on the back deck, the wooden table and benches were missing. The bedrooms were emptied out, her mattresses crammed into the office. Closets were sealed with blue painter's tape. She turned to the man, who had been renting her place for the past several months — without paying. "What is going on here?" she demanded. "What are you doing?"
What follows is, indeed, a crazy story.
In early February, Abel noticed that Peritz hadn't paid the rent by the first of the month, as they'd agreed upon. After a week's delay and several apologies, the money appeared in Abel's account. "Okay," she thought, "he's a little disorganized."
In March, Peritz again failed to pay on time. He said his wife had an emergency dental procedure that they'd had to pay for out of pocket, and he once again profusely apologized for the inconvenience. Getting worried, Abel gave him a chance to break the lease, but he declined, promising to catch up on his payments.
By the time April 1 came and went without a rent check, Abel had had enough. She wrote Peritz to tell him she was taking him to small-claims court. Around the same time, Abel's neighbors began writing her increasingly concerned emails. One of them had even seen Peritz taking her furniture down the driveway to the office in the garage late at night. They rarely, if ever, saw his wife or son.
Abel got in touch with the Kensington Police Department, which sent an officer by the house to talk with Peritz. The officer emailed Abel to tell her that he thought Peritz was "trying to establish squatters rights or lock you out," and that she should have a cop accompany her when she eventually came back home. Someone from the police department would tell her she should start the eviction process as soon as possible. It might take weeks, even months, to get Peritz out of her house.
I just love the idea of The Renter From Hell, only the entire movie is spent squabbling between over-educated, under-aware types. Lots of infantile hostility wrapped up in five syllable words.
There you go: My seventh story idea for the month. And it's yours. Free!
Now it's your turn. What would you do with this story setup?
Each day this month, I invite you to click on RESPONSES and join me to do some further brainstorming. Take each day's story idea and see what it can become when you play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.
See you in comments. And come back tomorrow for another Story Idea Each Day For A Month.
For other posts in my A Story Idea Each Day for a Month (2017) series, go here.