Monday, April 16, 2007

Story Time

Students often talk about not knowing what to write about. There are several stock answers- write about what you know, create a character first, then have your story spin out of that. In one of the best screenwriting classes I ever taught we created an entire feature length treatment on the fly just by discussing character types. Our lead was a 90-year old Boston woman on her death bed who revealed a secret. The rest of the story was told in flashbacks- her husband was part of Irish organized crime. Think Rose Kennedy meets Citizen Kane. Most commonly, I think, writers start with a plot idea and create everything around that.

To test this theory I am going to provide a set up and you can take it from there. Please add your comments and we’ll see where this takes us. By the way this really happened to me this past Saturday.

I found a wallet just off the sidewalk about half a block from my house. The wallet had one dollar bill, a CTA pass and several business cards from an art and design school. There were two forms of identification both Colombian. From the ID the man’s name is Mercurio Velasco. He is 22 years old and has a closely shaved head. There was no other form of ID, BUT there was a fingerprint scanned and imbedded on the back of the ID.

I couldn’t find him in the phone book, but two hours later a sign was taped to our front door saying he lost a wallet and leaving a phone number. Nothing was mentioned about money, but there was great importance placed on the immigration documents. We met on the street- he know smy phone number and where I live.

Your job is to create a story around this character.



strunny said...

no one has started this yet?! i'm surprised. i could envision all this happening & where i would take it is you see him a couple weeks later at a neighborhood coffee shop & chat a little, surface stuff.. but now you have more than just a stranger relationship with him. then a few days later you see him on the train. a few days after that it's the museum, where you're out with some friends at. you start to wonder if this guy is following you, but when you engage with him he seems totally normal and surprised to see you. this is where i'd stop. i'd lead the audience to think there's something bad going on, but in the end through a series of events, it's just something strange, but stirring emotionally, as it all wraps up together. :)

PeterH said...


Thanks, it's about time someone added. Maybe you will start a trend. Thanks for reading my back pages.


Wonder Woman said...

Mercurio Velasco had been in the country nearly 3 years. He was sent by a Colombian drug lord named Raul Ganzales Inglesias Martinez III. (The third meaning third in the family business of Drug Lording) Mercurio is just a pawn in the myriad of characters leading to Raul. BUT I DIGRESS...
Marcurio is a formidable character in his own right. He's young, ambitious, and won't let anyone or anything get in his way. He is simply here on this detail because it profits him at this point in time. Peter, however, has innocently come upon the bait that Mercurio had set. The bait being the simple wallet.

After his meeting with Peter, not only did Mercurio have Peter's phone # and address, he had his finger print too. Mercurio's plan had been set into action. Feigning poverty, Mercurio gave Peter the dollar bill that was in his wallet as payment. The bill was actually a plant. Mercurio knew that as soon as he spent it he would be a dead man.

The business cards were given to Mercurio from customers needing HIS product. The card being the code for goods agreed upon being delivered.
Now Mercurio needed just to change his identity slightly, thanks to Peter, make sure Peter was out of the picture and then be on his way to Sweden, where his account there will be increased by such a significant amount that he will now be able to retire without any trace back to Raul Ganzales Inglesias Martinez the (ignorant) III.

Peter thought the gesture odd, but accepted the dollar, not wanting to offend. He goes to his usual Starbuck's in the outside mall to get his morning coffee, giving them the dollar. Peter starts walking to work, when a searing pain hits his chest. He falls to the ground, spilling his double mocha chocolate orange frappacino, thinking "Crap! I'm going to be late!".

The government paid sniper conceals his weapon and walks away.

Mercurio pays for his coffee as a large group of people are standing around a man lying on the ground. Mercurio thinks, "I should be right on time for my plane".

PeterH said...


OK you get an A. You are probably a teacher's pet, too. Good story, you should take it somewhere. But remember, I am always the star of the story, you cannot kill me off in the first act.


Melvin said...

A young man by the named Mercurio Velasco has been missing for 6 years without a trade on till today when a wallet was found of his was discovered by a 39 year old woman named Belle Johnson. Belle was off to work one tuesday night when she seen a black leather wallet opened on the ground, she looked around to check if there was anybody there then she picked it up and seen some immigration documents. She placed the wallet in her pocket and walked on to work, as she walked to her bus stop she felt like someone was following her to the stop. She quickly turns away to check if there is somebody watching her. With puzzlement on her face so keeps walking to her stop. As her bus comes to pick her up and dark figure cames running toward here, in fear for her life she reaches in to her work bag for the tazer.

To Be Continue