Next Story Idea

As a writer, I’m always on the lookout for my next idea…Just a little non-derivative something to hang a story on.

With this in mind, one of my guilty pleasures is reading the NYC, MIA and LA Craigslist Writing Gig ads. Here’s an interesting one I found this morning. No affiliation or recommendation. Re-posted here for entertainment purposes only. Proceed at your own risk:

WRITE MY SCREENPLAY (MIAMI BEACH)

© craigslist

no pay

I HAVE DONE THE RESEARCH FOR A SCREENPLAY THAT TAKES PLACE DURING WORLD WAR II. IT IS A FANTASTIC, SPELL-BINDING STORY, SURE TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE. HELP WITH THE WRITING, SHARE THE PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE.

  • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

ALL CAPS, Miami Beach, no pay, help with writing, share the profits, sure to be a major motion picture?! Be still my foolish heart! I’m calling it…This one is golden.

I didn’t give this spec script writing gig too much thought. Heck, I’ve lived in Miami and seen things, strange things that still keep me up at night. You ask, ”What kinda things did you see?” Well OK, here’s one…

In a small grocery store located in a nice Miami Beach neighborhood, a well dressed middle aged woman showed the man at the register the half of a banana she held in her hand. The banana had been cut neatly in half. The clerk leaned across the counter and glared, “Lady, we don’t sell half a banana in here!” The lady looked hurt and softly replied, “But half a banana is all I need…” 

To this day, I have no idea what happened to the other half of that banana.

So, would I help that lady or the man who posted the CL ad write a speculative script for free? Very unlikely, but IF I had the chops and did, the experience might make an interesting dark comedy?

On second thought, in today’s progressive climate, the grocery store clerk would have to undergo six months of court ordered sensitivity training and the Banana Lady would be on TV for a month surrounded by weeping grief counselors and politicos looking for their next hot button issue. I can almost see protesters shouting and holding signs: WE DESERVE BANANAS! HALF AND WHOLE!

Oh well, I’ll keep looking for my next story idea. 

© 2021

John Hunter

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Creature Feature Script For Sale

Snow Worms by John Hunter

Logline:A strong and resourceful young woman leads a desperate struggle for survival when a long frozen terror awakens in the Alaskan wilderness.

Synopsis/Details:“In the remote Alaskan wilderness, primitive worm-like creatures long held in suspended animation inside glacial ice awaken and they are hungry. These ravenous creatures immediately prove themselves a lethal threat to all warm blooded creatures in the area including man. Isolated, cut off by bad weather and with little hope of a rescue, a strong and resourceful young woman leads the members of her research team and native Inuits in a life or death struggle for survival.”

The B-Horror Film is an enduring art form – A guilty pleasure enjoyed by many and this one is mine. This is a mid-budget Creature Feature set in the Great White North with an OMG ending and sequel potential out the wazoo. 

In July 2020, I graciously declined an offer from mainland China for this script. All in all, a positive experience confirming my belief the future in film is streaming on small screens here, there and everywhere.

The first pages of Snow Worms are posted HERE

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Snittle Dancing

Upon recently entering my local Costco, a huge cavernous warehouse where you can buy everything in large quantities at discount prices, my forward progress was stopped by a small boy. 

His eyes were closed, his fists were clinched and his head moved violently from left to right. He appeared to be running in place without going anywhere. He sounded like a miniature fire truck on its way to a real barnburner. Everyone except me, prudently ignored his display. 

His enabling Copter Mom at his side, leaned over and cooed sweet nothings to the boy, but he was having none of it. 

Fascinated, I stood and watched for a moment what could only be described as a dance. Yep, that was it. The boy was having a snit and dancing at the same time – No small accomplishment. Truly worthy of an apt creative and descriptive term.

I smiled at the boy and his mother, leaned over and addressed the boy in a warm and friendly manner, “That’s some of the finest SNITTLE DANCING I’ve ever seen.”

Before the boy’s mother could be offended and assault me, I straighten up and blended in with other shoppers moving into the huge marketplace where five gallon jars of olives, cases of wine and skids of bakery demanded our immediate attention.

As we all know, my behavior was the sort of thing that should have been kept secret and carried to my grave. In a lapse of judgment, I foolishly shared my experience with my long time personal micromanager, the lovely Miss Susan. She, of course, filed my story away for use later.

And so it came to pass, the next time I showed some minor displeasure over a trivial matter, Miss Susan flashed a wry smile and innocently asked, “Do I get a little snittle dance with that?”

Defeated, I sighed and thought, “Yes, Karma can be a bitch.”

© 2020

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Companion Shop

Written by John Hunter – Now a short film! Watch and Enjoy!

“Difficulties arise when an elderly woman tries to return an artificially intelligent companion purchased at a clearance sale.”

I wrote this whimsical short some years ago and it has now been released as a short film made by Ivy Jelisavac in July 2020.

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Speed Trap in Ludowici

speed trap

As evidenced by old photographs, my maternal grandmother was once a very handsome woman in her youth. By the time I came along, she was a heavy set woman with a care worn face who kept her grey hair pulled into a tight bun on the back of her head.

She only attended school for three years, but this did not prevent her from becoming a wealthy woman way back when a dollar was still a dollar.

I can not remember ever seeing her dressed up. She wore nondescript inexpensive cotton dresses from a now defunct department store and carried a small plastic pop-open coin purse clutched in her hand – She never carried a handbag.

She had lived through the Great Depression and getting her to part with her money was not an easy task. Even so, I could sometimes talk her into giving me a few coins to buy a soda. On these rare occasions, she would root around in her coin purse and begrudgingly give me a few coins. These coins came with a painful look on her face as if she was giving me one or two of her vital internal organs.

During these times, it was common for small towns in south Georgia to stop and fine both real and alleged speeders. These places were called “speed traps.”

The most notoriously in our little part of the world was a small pulpwood town named Ludowici which we pronounced “lew-dah-witch-chee.” 

An outraged and embarrassed Lester Maddox, a former governor of Georgia, posted warning signs on the narrow two-lane road going into and out of this town. These signs did not stop the practice of fining the few motorist who did pass through.

On one lazy summer day, my grandmother was stopped for allegedly speeding in Ludowici.

For anyone familiar with the reality of the situation, the idea of her speeding was preposterous. She drove a pre-WW2 sedan with faded black paint and huge fenders. The car could not go faster than the speed limit even if it had it been shot out of a cannon.

When the arresting officer asked her to pay a fine, she broke down into tears and explained she was a poor widow woman with three children. She pleaded with the officer to let her go and told him she had no money.

The unsympathetic officer led her back to the station where she was to be held until someone paid her fine. On the way to the police station, she hid her money under the front seat in her car.

At the police station, my grandmother was threatened, yelled at and put in a cell. As the afternoon wore on, she produced more tears and made impassioned pleas for leniency, mercy and charity.

She insisted she simply could not pay a traffic fine and wept openly as she explained she did not even have enough money to buy the gasoline she needed to get back to her children in nearby Brunswick. As she wiped away tears, she told the police her children would be worried and certainly go without supper if she was not released and allowed to continue on her way.

Hours later and just before dark, the police finally let my grandmother go without paying a fine. They may have even given her a little money to help pay for the gasoline needed to make her trip home.

As a child, I enjoyed hearing stories about this hardy, self-sufficient and waggish old woman who was as clever as a fox and tight with her money. I only hope some of her DNA was passed on to me. 

© Copyright 2019

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Surefire Storytelling Formula

cat w:fiddle

For aspiring scriptwriters everywhere seeking a surefire storytelling formula which is neither Save The Cat or The Hero’s Journey, I here offer the following as a guide:

   Hey diddle, diddle

   The cat played the fiddle

   The cow jumped over the moon

   The little dog laughed to see such fun

   And the dish ran away with the spoon

It’s tightly written, has an unapologetic opening, there’s a strong leading character, the storyline is non-derivative, loaded with interesting supporting roles and has a romantic B Story. 

What’s not to like?

One last word of caution – In the event you want to take your writing beyond the hobby stage, a well monied executive producer and a good agent not currently in rehab may also be helpful.

All the best and carry on.

© Copyright 2019

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Squeak Up!

standing mouse

My formative childhood years were spent in the coastal low country of south Georgia where my family has been since before the area was even a State.

The long lazy summers where barefooted and carefree. I was given a buzz cut and set free to roam. What was not to like? I listened to folks speaking Ebonics, Geechee, Patois and Cracker. 

I was allowed to run in the clouds of “smoke” belching from behind the DDT truck spraying for mosquitoes, climb trees and eat pecans I picked up off the ground. 

There was even a Boston Bull dog I could set loose on the unsuspecting postmen…That is until the dog was sent away to live with my paternal grandmother on her farm. Although I now suspect my dog may have been put down for my reckless endangerment of postal workers.

These were simpler times. Entertainment was scarce. Way back then, people actually spoke to each other face-to-face. Storytelling was a prized and time honored tradition.

From this period of time, one of my favorite stories was about my maternal grandmother verbally abusing her third or fourth husband, the man I was named after.

Seems they both enjoyed what was then called “a good, knock down, drag out, name calling, hair pulling fight.” In their defense, times were hard and we were poor – You took your entertainment where you could find it.

So it came to pass during one of their famous shouting matches, my fully enraged grandmother shouted at my terrified grandfather, 

“Squeak up! Are you a man or a mouse?!”

I have always treasured this childhood memory and even now repeat my grandmother’s words internally when faced with a difficult choice or decision to make.

You now have my permission to use my grandmother’s words when seeking guidance in your own moments of crisis or peril.

Use them wisely and be well…

© Copyright 2019

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Honus Wagner

Honus

“There ain’t much to being a ballplayer, if you’re a ballplayer.”

Honus Wagner was an American baseball player who played 21 seasons in the Major Leagues from 1897 to 1917. He played almost exclusively for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He won his eighth batting title in 1911, a record that remains unbroken to this day.

Mr Wagner did not overthink that he was doing. He just did it and did it very well. In reflecting on what he said about being a ballplayer, I believe old Honus may have been on to something. 

Have you ever watched a master craftsman working at his or her trade – Be it bricklayer, short order cook, artist, plumber, criminal or writer?

Common to doing anything well is an economy of motion, a proficiency and ease in completing the task. And we’re not talking about just getting it done, we’re talking about doing it well.

What’s My Point?

If you’re struggling to do whatever it is you think you’re doing and still producing mediocre results, perhaps you’re doing it wrong or maybe it’s time for you to try something else?

Yeah, I know training, practice and determination can improve your performance over time – But only up to a certain point. After that, there is no substitute for innate, natural talent. Some have it, others not so much.

In golf, I hit the wall (had an epiphany) after completing what was the best round I had ever played. It was at that moment, I realized I was never going to play on the PGA Tour.

So to paraphrase Mr Wagner, “There ain’t much to being a golfer, if you’re a golfer.”

I have since accepted my athletic limitations and moved on to become a recovering golfer who also writes so-so scripts and not-so-wordy prose – Oh, sweet Elvis! Do I see a pattern forming here? Is this déjà vu all over again?

If you’re an aspiring writer, perhaps it’s not too late for you?

For me, I have no choice. I’m locked in and will go on writing regardless of my lack of commercial success. Of course, I will still continue to attend those Writers Anonymous Meetings. You know, the ones held in church basements and at strip malls? Those meetings where you stand up and introduce yourself,

“Hi, my name is John and I’m a writer…”

© Copyright 2019

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Charles Bukowski

Bukowski

Charles Bukowski was a career drunk and essentially homeless for most of his life. He was also a prolific writer who wrote poems, short stories and books. I first became aware of his work when I saw a production of his THE COPULATING MERMAID OF VENICE, CALIFORNIA.

From all accounts, Mr Bukowski could be a very charming and engaging man. It is also noted everyone who ever took him into their hearts or homes soon asked him to leave.

I think we all have self-destructive urges now and again, but most manage to keep these under control. In the case of Mr Bukowski, there didn’t seem to be any holding back.

His personal mission in life seems to have been to find out just how far he could push things before something went POP! I can imagine his drunken musings, “Do you think I can put nine pounds of &#@% in a five pound bag? Let’s find out…” Or perhaps, “Things are going too well, I need to throw a couple of sticks of dynamite in here…”

Several films have been made about him. The one that comes immediately to mind is BARFLY, 1987, with Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway.

While Bukowski’s talents were undeniable, it saddens me to imagine how much more he might have been able to do if he hadn’t been so self-destructive. 

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About

picture-935-1560904181

I’m an award winning and produced scriptwriter living under the shade of a large oak tree in Central Florida. I don’t restrict myself to one genre and enjoy telling a wide variety of character driven, slightly dark and quirky stories with a dash of humor. 

My dystopian horror Baby Soup won the 2013 Florida Independent Filmmakers Contest and five of my short scripts have been produced, including the whimsical Companion Shop which you can watch here. In July 2020, I declined an offer from mainland China for my mid-budget creature feature Snow Worms.

Some of my work has been turned into quick and easy to read entertainment written in prose. As a FREE sample see Zentangles.

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