The original post for this episode can be found here.

John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.

John: And this is Episode 65 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters. This is our post-Thanksgiving episode. Craig, how was your Thanksgiving?

Craig: You know, it was great. I had Thanksgiving with my family over at Derek Haas’s house.

John: You were right up the street.

Craig: Yeah. I was very close to you. Thought about walking over to your house and handing you some turkey, but then I thought, “You know what? No. No. Give the man his privacy.”

John: Just this one day you’re not going to come by and harass me.

Craig: Just this one time.

John: So you had a good group of writers there because you had you and Derek. Any other screenwriters?

Craig: Nope. No, it was just us and the kids going crazy. How about over by you?

John: We had the Creaseys come over, also screenwriters, and Amy Higgins and Matt Watts, also writers. So, it was a good group. We had a total of 14. I made a turkey and all the trimmings. It was fun.

Craig: Excellent!

John: It was a good, fun time.

So, Craig, today I thought we would talk about, we’ve done a lot of work the last year on the First Three Pages and talking about sort of what should be in those first three pages, and people have been sending in those things and that’s been terrific. But I kind of want to talk about the next 117 pages, if we can do that, sort of all the stuff we might talk about if we were reading people’s full scripts and sort of the things we would be looking for if we were looking at everything beyond those first three pages, if you’re game for doing that.

Craig: Always.

John: Always. But first we have a bunch of little questions that have stacked up, so I thought we might burn through those and just do a bit of a sprint. Okay?

Craig: Sounds good.

John: All right. First, Mike in New Jersey asks, “I was wondering what the protocol for spacing in between sentences is. I’ve been told to use two spaces after each period, but I’ve also been told this doesn’t matter. I was just wondering what you guys would suggest.”

This has come up on Twitter also. It’s a simple answer.

Craig: It’s a thing. Well, you know, the whole two space thing came from old typewriters because it looked weird if things weren’t double spaced after the period. It looked like the sentence never ended. But I think, you know, you’re a font nerd. This problem went away with computers, didn’t it?

John: This problem went away with proportional-spaced fonts. So, the problem is that mono-spaced fonts, because every character is exactly the same width, the two spaces were helpful in readability when you were typing on a typewriter, it had like every character the exact same width. So, double spacing after the period was a standard thing you would do.

My belief is that if you’re still typing in a mono-spaced font for a screenplay, like Courier, it’s nice to do the two spaces. But I don’t think it’s a must in the mono-spaced font anymore. So, if you choose to use two spaces in a mono-spaced font, great, like Courier. But if you’re using any other font, any other sort of normal font, stop doing the two spaces.

Craig: Yeah, I grew up on two spaces because I learned to type on actual typewriters, which obviously don’t exist anymore. However, somewhere I would say about six years ago I made the jump to one space because I started reading a lot of scripts that were in one space, obviously still in Courier, and they just looked better to me. And I wasn’t having a problem following where the sentence breaks were.

It was a very difficult thing to break myself of because I had become so used to the double space after the period. But, I did it. And now I am a single space aficionado.

John: One thing which is interesting that’s happened with the advent of the web is HTML by default sort of sucks white space down to a single space, so if you double space on a web page it is going to break that down to a single space regardless. So, I think people are a little bit less mindful of it, because when you’re typing into some web forms and things like that it all just does kind of go away, and you don’t really notice the difference anymore.

If you are doing a script and like maybe you started writing with a period and two spaces, and like your writing partner does space/one period, it’s worth it to go through and fix all of those things because it’s going to be weird if you’re flipping back and forth. Your friend there is to do a find and replace. So, don’t just search for a space, search for a period-space and go through and swap all those out. Or search for a period-space-space, and substitute those in for a period-space. There are ways to do it so you can get back to sanity.

Craig: Yeah. I remember going though this. The issue with the period-space is that if you had something like Mr. Smith it would become Mr. space-space Smith.

John: Yeah. So what you can do in those situations, if you really want to geek out on it, is search for R-period-space, and change that to something different. Like change that to like four asterisks in a row or something. And then do all of your other things, and then remember at the end switch four asterisks back to R-period-space.

Craig: Oh, nice. Love it. You know, it seems like the sort of thing that you would write an app for. [laughs]

John: There is actually some talk of some script cleaning apps down in the future, because what we do in Fountain which is the plain text screenwriting language, it’s very easy to build those kind of utilities because you’re just dealing with plain text. And so it’s very simple for us to go through and clean up that kind of stuff.

Craig: I love it. Great.

John: Question number two. Joseph in LA asks, “With all the contests and sites that technology has made accessible, like the Black List, or tracking boards, do you see yourself shifting your views in whether living in LA and working in the industry is really that vital to an aspiring screenwriter’s career? There have been some tangible results with Kremer signing to CAA off the Black List, Ashleigh Powell who sold a script to Warner and recently gained reps off the TrackingB Contest,” a site I never heard of.

Joseph asks, “I live here in LA, I grew up here, went to college here, but I’m considering moving just to live somewhere else for awhile. But I’m fearful that doing so would mean giving up on Hollywood. What do you guys think?”

So, there’s some valid points to this in that there certainly are people who are getting attention from Hollywood not living here, so like through the Black List or through other places they’re getting noticed to some degree here and they’re getting stuff started.

I’d be curious if you followed up on these people and sort of how they’re going in their careers, are they ultimately moving here? I kind of think a lot of them probably are, for a couple reasons. You are going to be taking a zillion meetings starting off. And all those meetings with people are a lot easier to schedule and easier to manage if you’re living here in town.

I would also say you are looking at the results of these — the two people you’ve cited here — people who signed based on success on these boards or these sites, but most people who have success didn’t go through these sites. They went through sort of more conventional ways in which they were interning at places and they swapped scripts with other assistants and they did all the normal stuff.

You’re not hearing those things, you’re not noticing those breakout stories because they’re just so common. You’re hearing these stories because they’re so uncommon I would also say.

Craig: Yeah.

John: A third point that Joseph actually brings up in his question which I’m going to summarize out is: you don’t see this happening in TV. And I think the reason you don’t see it happening in TV is that TV is staffed by going into rooms, and meeting with people, and TV is written by people in rooms.

Many feature writers now have both TV lives as well. That’s very hard to start or run from any place other than Los Angeles. Rob Thomas, who is starting to do it now from Austin, which is great, but Rob Thomas has run a lot of TV shows. Starting out, you’re never going to be able to do that.

Craig: All good points, yes. Certainly if you do manage to succeed with one of these gateway services you’re going to end up here anyway no matter what.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So, the real question is: Do I have to move to LA if I haven’t yet made it? Because we, you and I, always say that part of making it, part of the process of making it, is being where it’s made. So, we’re suggesting to people, yeah, you should be in Los Angeles if you want to be a screenwriter, a professional screenwriter, but aren’t yet one.

And even in the case that he cited, I think the guy who got his script going off of the Black List I think was here anyway. He was working as an intern for the Black List at some point even. But, you know, these things have happened before without these services. Diablo Cody managed to get her start from afar and then came here. There have been people who have done it. Andrew Kevin Walker was in New York. But, yeah, I mean, they’re kind of few and far between. And, frankly, I don’t think the business is particularly interested in these kind of aggregators as their quality control.

I think they’re pretty happy with the quality control they have. Sometimes these things do pop through, but look at Amazon, frankly. If you want to talk about probability and odds and all the rest of it, god knows how many scripts have gone through Amazon. Well how many have come out? Any?

John: Zero.

Craig: One?

John: Not that we know of; not one has gotten made.

Craig: I think that what happens is people — people keep asking this question because they don’t like the answer we give. But that answer remains. We are humans. This is a human business like all businesses. If you want to work in technology you should be in Silicon Valley. It’s technology, the stuff that makes it possible to live anywhere and work from anywhere, and yet still they want you in Silicon Valley. What does that tell you?

Ultimately these things are managed face-to-face through human contact. Even having meetings on the telephone is deleterious to the quality of the meeting. So, yeah, sorry; move to LA.

John: Yeah. Sometimes, every once and awhile, like lightning will strike somebody sort of out of the clear blue sky, and that’s why it’s a phrase, “out of the clear blue sky.” Well, lightning struck that person and it’s just remarkable that lightning struck them because it wasn’t even like a big thunderstorm happening.

Craig: Right.

John: But most of the time people who are struck by lightning, it’s because they were out in a thunderstorm. And so if you want to get struck by lightning I would say go to where there are a lot of thunderstorms, and that tends to be Los Angeles. To a smaller degree, New York. And to a much smaller degree, Austin.

That’s just sort of how it’s working these days.

Craig: Yeah, if the phrase “the exception that proved the rule” meant what everybody thinks it meant, then this is where we would use it. [laughs] Because, you know, everyone thinks “the exception that proves the rule” means that…

John: No, the exception tests the rule.

Craig: Yes. Yes. You should put a link up to what “the exception that proves the rule” actually means.

John: Stuart, find a link.

All right, Mark Andre in Victoriaville, Canada writes, and he writes in sort of the kind of English that is clearly a person whose first language is not English, so I’m going to sort of translate it from English-to-English so it’s more clear. He writes, “You talk about writing out numbers on your website, but I didn’t find my answer. My question is, say there’s an address on a door. Can I just use the numerals, like 1, 2, 3, or do I need to write out One Hundred and Twenty Three?”

Craig: Oh, god, no. 123 is fine for addressees. Sure. Even if it’s 2 Elm Street I would put the number for an address.

John: Yeah. So, let’s talk about numbers in writing and the special case of numbers in dialogue. So, generally numbers in writing, most of the sort of journalistic guide for it and what you’ll often really find in books, too, is numbers less than ten you write out the word. Numbers greater than ten you’re more likely to use the numbers for it. And that also applies for scene description and action that you write in your screenplays.

I’ve often said though in dialogue in screenplays I strongly suggest you consider writing out the whole number, because you just don’t know how an actor is going to say some words. And sometimes you really want them to say something a certain way. You want them to say “one-twelve” rather than “one-hundred and twelve.” And there’s a real reason why you may want them to do that. So, write it all out if it’s in dialogue, most cases.

Craig: I totally agree. I remember — it’s a great rule of thumb — writing things out in dialogue the way you want them to be said. And I learned that lesson on my very first script. We did a table reading, and at table readings they will bring the actors they’ve cast, but usually they haven’t cast all the parts, typically the little ones. And so they just get actors to fill in that day.

John: The day players.

Craig: And there was a line in it and it was — the character I think was supposed to be the head of NASA. And he was saying something like, “You’re going to be through space at 900 miles per hour.” And what we had written in the script was “900 mph.” And the actor got to that line and said, “You’re going to be rocketing through space at 900 mmph.”

John: Ha ha.

Craig: And I sat back and I thought, “Oh god, he’s so stupid, and yet it’s kind of my fault.” [laughs] It’s kind of my fault. So, a good rule of thumb: When you are writing dialogue write out everything, unless it’s like some crazy long number. Write it out.

John: So, in your example, did you mean for him to say “M-P-H,” or did you mean for him to say “miles per hour?”

Craig: I meant for him to say “miles per hour.” Or, I mean, even if he had said, “MPH,” that would have been so weird because nobody ever says, like, “60 M-P-H.” So, I just assumed that it would say, when he would get to “60 mph” he would say, “60 miles per hour.” Totally wrong assumption, the kind of assumption that an idiot makes when he hasn’t written a screenplay before.

And it was a good — I never could have seen “mmph” coming. That’s just dumb. But then again, you know, it happens and the more specific you write things out the better. Because you’re right, “124,” “one hundred twenty four,” “one twenty four,” all different ways.

Plus, frankly, it’s cheating on length.

John: It’s going to take longer to say it.

Craig: You know, every extra word is length.

John: All right. Our next question comes from Adam who writes, “I’m an editor by day, cutting short interviews with stars, directors, and writers for new movies for a cable network. In the last two weeks I’ve done this for two very high profile studio movies which were based on novels. In both cases the author of the novel says in his interview that he was brought on to rewrite the screenplay before production, but was not given credit as a screenwriter because of the WGA.

“Also in both cases the author implied that he felt he deserved credit. This seems unfair for two reasons. One, the novelist did some amount of screenwriting and he’s not getting any credit for it. But more importantly, two, the credited screenwriter’s potential future employers are led to believe that he wrote this movie all by himself, which he did not.” Our thoughts?

This is one of those frustrating things where you don’t know what the specific circumstances were. You don’t know sort of how much this author really did. Whether this author had it in his contract that he or she got to go back and tweak things because of the nature of it. And I’m not trying to slam on Nicholas Sparks, but this feels sort of Nicholas Sparks-y.

You don’t know what the actual situation was. I can talk to you about, Craig can even talk more knowledgeably about it, is that the credits on a movie are determined by the WGA based on who really wrote the movie. And there’s a whole process for that. And so it’s not about excluding the author. It’s about who really wrote the movie and wrote the majority of the movie that we see up on screen.

Craig: Yeah. First thing to point out is authors always have their name on the movie. They get a “Based on the novel by.” So, that’s a source material credit and that’s something that the WGA has agreed to with the studios — that’s within the studio’s discretion. And I cannot think of any case where, I mean, even the worst deal that a novelist makes for the movie rights to his or her novel will include the right to be acknowledged for the source material.

So, their name is on the movie. Their book exists in the world. It’s no secret that the movie was based on a novel.

What is important to understand is that all “Screenplay by” or “Written by” in terms of the screenplay means is the screenplay was written by somebody. So, if I come along and I write a screenplay of say The Shining, “Written by Craig Mazin” just means the screenplay of The Shining was written by Craig Mazin. It’s not casting any aspersions on the author of The Shining who will, of course, get credit, “Based on the novel by Stephen King.”

If Stephen King should come on after me and rewrite me, the Guild asks the question, “Did the amount of work they did on the screenplay rise to the test of authorship?” We don’t always get it right. I have to tell you, I think that given the evolution of the rules that has occurred over the last few years we’re getting it right more often than we used to.

But, frankly, it is not at all unfair. Sometimes people come in and do some rewriting and frankly they simply don’t do the kind of substantial rewriting that would rise to the test of authorship. Our credits are unique; they are not employment credits.

Some people say, “Well every writer should have a credit on the movie because, you know, the craft service guy has his name on the movie.” Yes, that’s true, but the craft service guy’s credit just means that he was employed as a craft service guy. Our credits as “Written by,” it implies authorship and it’s different. It’s simply in a different category. That’s why our credit confers things like residuals and separated rights. And the credit for craft services does not.

So, that part, I think, I can see why maybe it would rub you wrong. I mean, the fact that the authors are complaining just means that they’re authors because everyone thinks that they deserve credit on everything, of course. That’s part of our birthright as writers.

Your second point is not valid…

John: No.

Craig: …and here’s why. You are concerned that the industry won’t know who did what. They always know. It’s the funniest thing. The studios and the agencies know who did work on the movie. They know who impacted the movie. And when the credits don’t reflect that, they don’t forget, in fact, they seem to know it even more in a weird way.

You will hear phrases like, “Well, they weren’t credited but they did a ton of work.” Nothing escapes anyone. I hear this all the time. I hear it from studio executives who will — sometimes studio executives will say the credits were just wrong. This person did it. And they all talk to each other. And every time a writer goes in for a job the studio will call other studios where they worked to hear how it went. There are lists of writers who have recently succeeded and writers who have recently failed. And success and failure in the studio context has nothing to do with who actually got credit.

It has everything to do with who made them happy.

John: Yup. Definitely. One last point about the original authors and determining credit is if these situations did go to an arbitration, those arbitrations are done anonymously. They’re anonymously in two different ways. That is, the people who are the arbiters who are figuring out who deserves credits, none of them know each other’s names. None of the people who are submitted material know who those arbiters are.

And, likewise, we don’t get the names of who the writers were on the project.

Craig: Well, that is true, however, the writer does submit a statement, and in that statement they can identify themselves as… — Well, I don’t know. It’s an interesting question. Can you identify yourself as the author of the source material? They’ll probably disallow that because it would make you not anonymous.

John: The only reason why I know why it can happen, the author can identify himself, is that I went through a really strange arbitration where I was an arbiter. And so I’m going to talk about this in such a general way that no one will ever know which one I’m talking about. This isn’t a movie I worked on; this was where I was just volunteering to serve as an arbiter. And the original person who wrote the book was Writer B and was able to explain that he was Writer B.

Craig: Mm, there you go.

John: And the only reason it came up was there were notes — in addition to the actual book that he or she had written, there were additional notes that became material; it became a whole issue about sort of when he was actually employed as a writer in the movie. It was a mess like these things often can be.

But, being the original novelist doesn’t give you extra bonus super powers in this thing. It’s about who wrote the screenplay and who wrote the bulk of the screenplay that we’re seeing. And Craig’s original point of like, you wrote the book, that book has your name on it. And because you wrote the book you have a credit saying, “Based on this book,” and that’s a large part of it.

So, those are some quick questions. I thought we would spend the rest of the time talking about sort of what we’ve learned from the Three Page Challenge up to this point. So, we’ve gotten more than 500 entries to the Three Page Challenge which is just crazy. And those are like actual real ones that people put in the right boilerplate and they submitted stuff properly. And Stuart has read all of those which is nuts.

Craig and I, we’ve done maybe 30 on the show, but Stuart has read about 500 of them. So, Stuart did a great post on the blog this week. I don’t know if you saw it, Craig, but where he sort of went though and talked about the things he’s learned from reading these 500 scripts.

Craig: I didn’t see that. I’m going to read it.

John: You can read it right now. I’m going to give a little summary here, but you can take a look at it if you want to.

Craig: Calling it up.

John: So, some common trends he noticed was floweriness, which is — what we often talk about when we read the samples — the sort of more novel writing than screenwriting, where people will use poetic language to describe things which makes you think — it’s ambiguous sometimes. And ambiguity is wonderful for poems; it’s not a good choice for screenplays.

He talked about clumping, and clumping is the word he was using to describe when you’re reading down the page and suddenly you can see like, “Oh my god, that’s a really big block of text there and I don’t know if I want to read it.” And so, you know, make the page feel like you want the movie to feel and don’t give us those giant chunks of text that we’re going to be scared to read, because you know what? We might skip them.

He found most of the formatting was actually pretty good, and actually I would agree; most of the ones we’ve read have been properly formatted in a general sense. One thing he notices that I hadn’t noticed is that a lot of people are uppercasing names every time that character appears rather than just the first time they appear in the script. So, that’s no good.

The reason why in feature screenplays you use uppercase on the first time you mention a character’s name is that it makes it really simple to flip through the script and figure out which scene a character first appears in. If you do it every time, or every scene the character appears it just becomes soup; we can’t tell when a character started appearing. So, that’s a useful thing. It lets us know that this is the moment where the character is first appearing in the script.

Craig: Right.

John: The other things which should get uppercased — sounds, like important sounds; really important elements that you really need to draw the reader’s attention to them. And, so, you use uppercase judiciously when you really need to attract the reader’s attention to something.

People have different personal styles. Some people use a lot more uppercase than I like to use. Some people will also use bold, and italics, and five asterisks, and a lot of explanation points. That’s not my style, but this doesn’t mean — there are some very successful writers who do that kind of thing. But uppercasing is pretty consistent, so do that.

One thing Stuart pointed out which I hadn’t noticed but I think is a good thing to notice, the first time you mention a character on the first character introduction, give us their age. Do those little parentheses and give us their age, because sometimes it can be ambiguous when you say someone has salt-and-pepper hair. It’s like, “Well, does that mean he’s like a prematurely gray twenty-something or is he a 60-year-old who is looking really good?”

An age is helpful. And you don’t have to give us an exact age. It’s fine to give us, like, “50s.” But it just gives us a sense of who this person is.

Vary your character names. And this I did notice in one of the scripts that we went through on the Three Page Challenge.

Craig: I remember that one, yeah.

John: And there were two characters with almost exactly the same name. So, every time you saw a dialogue header, a character dialogue header for them, like, “Which one is this? Which one is this?” Don’t do that to us.

You know, you have 26 letters in the alphabet. You’re not going to have 26 major characters in your script, so why don’t you just pick one letter for each character and try not to duplicate if you can possibly help it?

Use descriptive names for minor characters rather than Guard #1. Guard #1 doesn’t help you at all. It doesn’t help you as a reader. It doesn’t help you as a director who’s thinking about how to cast this role. So, if you say like, Lanky Guard or Chubby Guard or pretty much any adjective Guard is going to be more helpful than Guard #1. So, those were things Stuart pointed out.

Craig: Really good observations. Yeah.

John: The rest of the post we’ll put a link to it. He also, along with our friend Nima, did sort of a meta analysis of all the pages. So, they put it through a little processor and they’re going to have more results on some other stuff they discovered.

One of his first hypotheses was that people weren’t using enough white space on the page. That’s probably not actually true. His metric for it was he was comparing the first three pages of what got sent through to us versus the first three pages of the Black List winners of the last couple years. And the white space is actually more on our samples than it was on the Black List.

Craig: Interesting.

John: So, his hypothesis is flawed.

Craig: Yeah, I mean, you don’t want to hammer people with big chunks, but it’s funny — good writing solves almost everything.

John: It does, yeah.

Craig: Good writing will solve all of your formatting issues and mislabeled uppercase things. But, these were all really good tips. Really simple things. You know me, I’m not big on rules and things, but there are some simple rules that we all follow, like capitalizing a character the first time we see them and stuff like this. I think these are all very good simple, practical things to consider as we go through, makes it easier for you guys to get past Stuart.

Although, I have to say, he spelled “legalese” like “beagle.” It’s L-E-A…hmm.

John: Oh, did he do that? Oh, Stuart.

Craig: Yeah. It’s actually kind of adorable. [laughs]

John: Aw.

Craig: Well, because it does remind me of a beagle. I’m sorry, I’m so ADD.

John: You’re picturing a beagle with a law degree and briefcase, aren’t you?

Craig: I really liked it. This is a very well-written article that he did here. This is a very well-written sort of discussion. This should be sort of almost required reading.

God, it’s amazing. Honestly, John, I feel like… — I’m going to tell you something. I went and I lectured at UNLV when I was in Las Vegas shooting on The Hangover. And the professor asked me upfront, “Where did you go to film school?” And I said I didn’t. And he was like, “Oh.” [laughs]

And, you know, I just feel like if we do this right, and by “we” I mean just in general, people in the business who give back through these kinds of things — podcasts, and blogs, and essays. I just feel like eventually these film schools are going to be in real trouble.

Because I look at a thing like this and I think this is a free lecture that people currently pay a lot of money for except now they don’t have to because it’s right here. I mean, Stuart kind of just did a little master class on very simple presentational guidelines.

John: I think we could be a very good substitute for seminar, or for sort of one of those little three-week intensives. What we can’t do that a film school can do is give you a class full of other people aspiring to do exactly what you’re aspiring to do.

Craig: True. That we cannot.

John: And that’s what I got out of film school more than anything. Like, you know, I’ve talked about it before. The Stark Program that I went through, there’s only 25 people a year. And those people, like, I fought with them and saw movies with them and shot their movies. It was crazy, and horrible, and wonderful, but I owe them my career. And so that’s the thing you get out of a film program or being in NASA or wherever else, you’re surrounded by a bunch of people who are trying to do what you’re trying to do.

And that’s the best of film school.

Craig: Hmm. We’ve got to figure out how to do that.

John: Yeah. That’s tough though.

Moving on with sort of what we learned from the Three Page Challenge, we had a question from Matt Price who wrote, “I’ve noticed one more than one occasion you guys have said, in regards to Three Page Challenge script, ‘I know where this script is going,’ as if this was a compliment. Other times you’ve criticized a script with, ‘I don’t know what this script is about.’ But, three pages in, isn’t it a good thing that we don’t know where this script is going? Shouldn’t the story be surprising? I’m sure I’ve misunderstood what you guys mean when you say these things. Can you clarify that critique?”

Craig: Huh. Well, I’m trying to remember my frame of mind when I said it. I think there are times where you know where a story is going and it’s not a compliment at all because it just seems like a very predictable road story we’ve seen before, and that’s no good.

Sometimes I know where a story is going but I’m okay with it because I can tell that it’s the kind of story where the plot is less important than the characters and their journey, and the theme, and the details. Some wonderful movies are centered around incredibly cliché plots. But that’s okay because it’s not about the plot, you know?

I mean, look, let’s take As Good as It Gets. Guy meets girl; guy loses girl; guy gets girl. I mean, it ends with the two of them together and he is the most improbable character for that. It’s kind of a cliché romantic comedy in that regard plot-wise. They go on a road trip in the middle for god’s sakes.

But, it’s how they got there and the details along the way that were wonderful, so frankly the answer is sometimes it’s an insult, and sometimes it’s not a compliment, it’s just an okay thing.

John: I think when I say that phrase — and I’m sure I have said it on multiple occasions — I generally mean I don’t know what kind of movie this is. Like, I’m not clear quite what the genre of this movie is. I’m not clear of who the characters are or how I’m supposed to feel about this movie. I’m not clear if this is a comedy or a drama. I’m not sure what your world of this movie is.

Think back to my movies. Like Go is a movie that goes in a thousand different places. It should be very surprising sort of what happens, but I think in those first three pages you sort of know where the world of this movie is and that grocery store, which is not where we’re going to center most of the action, you realize like, “Okay, it’s about these kinds of characters, these young people who say these kinds of things, who are ambitious in this sort of narrow and weird kind of way.” So, it’s like you get what kind of movie this is and how it’s going to feel.

And when I’ve said that about three page scripts, that I don’t know where this movie is going, it’s because I’m not sure what to expect when I flip the page again. And that’s not the right kind of feeling.

Craig: I agree with you on that. And it’s funny — I was watching Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels last night. It was on and I really like that movie. And that movie is designed in such a way specifically to prevent you from seeing what comes next. It’s a puzzle box of a movie that plays tricks constantly because it’s part of its charm, it’s part of its intention is to continually confuse the plot and send it weird ways.

But there’s no question about what kind of movie it is. And if you were to read the first three pages you would get it. It’s a stylized kind of criminal/heisty movie in the general Tarantino vein. And you’d say, “Okay, I’d like to see where this is going. It seems like it’s going to turn into kind of a criminal farce,” which is what it is.

Sometimes we read pages and we think not so much “we don’t know where this is going” but rather “it can’t go anywhere that’s interesting.” Because we’re looking at the seed and we’re saying, “Based on this seed the plant is going to be a weird looking plant that isn’t a plant.”

John: Yeah. If we read those first three pages and they’re just really flat, and it’s generic, and there’s nothing that sparks us about those first three pages, when we say, like, “I don’t know where this is going,” it’s like it’s really a nice shorthand for like “I don’t really kind of care where this goes next because I’m not interested in it, or I’m not intrigued by anything I’ve seen so far.”

Craig: Right.

John: So, let’s talk about the “what happens next” and let’s talk about the next 117 pages frankly of these scripts. I think we picked the Three Page Challenges because you had actually done something like that on Done Deal Pro before, hadn’t you?

Craig: Yeah. I started doing, I think I called them Four Pages or Five Pages. I can’t remember how many. But I just had people start to post these things. And they didn’t have to be the first. They could be anywhere; I was allowing them to even take them from the middle of the movie if they felt like it. And then I would just sort of go through.

And I did it in part because I wanted people to believe that much could be gleaned from that. I think that there is a natural writerly narcissism that says, “Well you can’t know if I can write or not based on two or three pages.” Yeah I can. For sure I can. I think anyone can, frankly; any reader really can.

And I wanted to be able to encourage people that deserved encouragement. And also sort of just reality-check people that deserve reality checking. And, in fact, there was one guy — only one — who put up three pages that I thought were so good that I wanted to read the rest of the script. And I read it and it was really good and I got him a manager. And I think he’s actually working now.

John: That’s really nice.

Craig: Look what I did! His name is Adam Barker. Really, really good…

John: His name is David Benioff.

Craig: …it was a really interesting few pages and it was just evident from those pages that he knew how to write. And when I read the script I talked with him at length about it because the script wasn’t — it needed work, it needed help, it needed love, but it was also — it needed the kind of work, help, and love that I see from anybody. When Scott Frank gives me a script and says, “What’s wrong with this scene?” It’s the same thing.

The difference between a writer giving you something and saying, “Why isn’t this working?” and a not writer giving you something and saying, “Why isn’t this working?” Well, one of these is a cake that you baked a little bit too long and one of these is just a bowl full of ingredients that are poorly mixed together.

John: I want to talk about why we do the Three Page Challenge rather than reading like 120 pages. There’s a couple reasons. First off, you and I just theoretically wouldn’t have the time to read 120 pages. And it’s just a giant commitment. And it really is a commitment in the way that like dating someone is a commitment versus having a little, you know, kiss in the hallway. And these three pages are just like that kiss in the hallway. And so it’s like, “Ah, yeah, there’s something promising there,” but you’re not sort of going out and doing the full romance.

If we were to somehow do those full things I want to talk about sort of the kinds of things we would be looking for and some of the things we would notice, sort of the way that Stuart noticed in his post about all the 500 pages. What are some common themes we probably would be talking about if this podcast were to be about reading the whole script for these things?

And so I’ll start with just some things I thought of, but you chime in with things you often say when you read scripts.

Craig: Go for it.

John: First, it always comes to: Are the right characters in charge of the plot? And this is something I see time and time again when reading newer writer’s screenplays is that they have this hero who is perfectly nice and likable, but the rest of the characters completely run away with the script. And so everything that is important that needs to be done gets done by one of the other characters. Anything really funny that needs to be said gets said by one of the other characters.

And the other characters tend to become much more interesting and much more important than your actual hero because they can be. So often the hero just becomes this little pawn that sort of gets pushed or pulled through the screenplay, and sort of this hapless victim of the screenplay rather than a person being in charge of the screenplay.

And so I feel like if I was reading a whole 120-page script in one of these cases I would be finding those problems again and again where your hero is just the guy who happens to be in this story rather than the person who is in charge of this story.

Craig: That’s a good one. One of the first things I will look for and notice missing is philosophical meat. What is this movie about beyond the motions of the characters and the circumstances? Let’s say you’re writing a movie about two cops — is it just about that? Is it just about them solving the case? Who cares? That’s an episode of a TV show. Who cares? What is this movie really about?

And it’s amazing how many scripts I read where it’s frankly about nothing at all, and that’s always a bummer.

The other thing I look for is layered writing. I find that sometimes I read scripts where the scenes are just about action. Then there’s a scene that’s just about character. Then there’s a scene that’s just about relationship. Then there’s a scene just about theme. Well, really, the plot should serve the character which should serve the theme, which should serve the plot, which should serve the relationship.

It should all be layered and harmonic.

John: Another question I would probably ask with these scripts is: Why is this story happening now? Why are we choosing to make a movie about this character and this situation right here and right now versus six months earlier or six months later? What is unique about this situation?

And I think it’s one of the things that distinguishes a movie idea from a TV show idea is that is this a story that wants to be told in two hours? And this is this character’s main story in their life. Like this is a great use of this person and our time to focus on this story, versus a TV series which is like, “Well, here’s a whole bunch of promising things, and here’s a good universe and a good world, and we can spin a thousand stories out of it.”

This should be like, “Well this unique set of circumstances created this one story that we’re going to follow.” And so often I’ll read scripts where it’s like, “This is all lovely, and I believe these characters basically,” but when I say this doesn’t feel like a movie I’m saying it doesn’t feel like it has to be a movie. It feels like it can be almost anything else and therefore it really isn’t a movie.

Craig: Right. That’s a good one, for sure.

The other thing I notice probably more in comedy scripts is an unsupported premise. And if you can’t get the audience completely onboard with the premise tightly and logically then the whole thing just feels like an exercise in wankery.

I was working on something a couple months ago where just the premise wasn’t there. The whole movie was sitting on nothing. It was just a short little two week thing. And, by the way, everybody acknowledged it. The other writers, they were like, “Yeah, we tried to do that but there was an issue.” And the studio — everybody sort of said, “Yeah, this thing is kind of leaning on air.”

Well, you can’t build a house on air. And it was a nice house. [laughs] But there was no foundation. And I’m pretty adamant about these things. I get very serious about it and I just say, “Look, you’re going to spend all of this money to make a movie and the problem is you will lose them on minute ten. And never get them back. They will never stop thinking about it.”

John: Yeah. What you’re describing is really the logic that you approach the movie with. It’s like, “Wait, does this even make sense for why this is a movie?” And a related concern that I always comes up with is the internal logic. Is there consistent internal logic in your story? Are the characters behaving in a way that’s both emotionally believable, like the characters are acting consistently? The way they would behave on page 20, that same kind of character would act the same kind of way on page 80? Do I believe that the same characters are still in the same story? Or are they just saying that thing, or doing that thing because you need them to move the plot along?

They’re not acting in a way that’s consistent. Have you established rules in your story and then are you following those rules? Or you’re just breaking those rules whenever you feel like breaking those rules because it’s more expeditious?

Craig: And usually when you see characters behaving inconsistently, violating rules, violating the basic tenets of their character, it’s because the characters are not distinct enough. And the characters aren’t real. And so that’s the other thing you see a lot are characters that all sound a lot like each other, or characters that feel pre-fab, borrowed from other movies, retooled and dropped in. And that’s a sign that you’re in for a bad ride.

Really in the end people go to movies for characters more than anything else.

John: Another question I would tend to ask about the full script is: Have you actually served me a meal? And by a meal I’m saying did you start at a certain place? Did you start at appetizers, move to the salad course, move through the entrée, and then gotten us to cheese plate and dessert? Have you gotten through the whole thing?

Or, did you just serve me a bunch of appetizers? Because some of these scripts, they just sort of like throw things at you, like, “Oh here, you can try this, you can try this, you can try this.” And it’s a whole bunch of different appetizers served back, to back, to back, but it never actually gets into the meat of what it’s trying to be. What we describe as second act problems are really kind of entrée problems. It’s like there’s just not enough there as your main — there’s not meat there. And you’ve never really gotten into it. You just kept throwing appetizers at us.

And that’s especially noticeable in action movies where it’s just like there are a bunch of action sequences that happen, and it’s like, “Well, a bunch of stuff happened but I’m not sure we really got any place.” The most recent Bourne movie to me felt like tapas, where it was just like a bunch of really good small plates, but they didn’t actually relate to each other in any useful way.

Craig: Yeah. You do see a lot of endings that seem far away from the beginnings in terms of space and stuff, but not far away from them enough in terms of character and emotion. I want the character to be almost the opposite of who they were in the beginning, in a big way, in some real way. I want something big to have happened so that they would be disgusted or not recognize who they were in the start.

And a lot of times these movies make these — scripts rather that I read — make banal movements. You know, “I will start dating again.” Well who cares? You know? [laughs]

John: Yeah.

Craig: The tricky thing about these scripts is that you want to find ways to pull audiences into universal truths set in very not universal situations, because I don’t want to see somebody go through my day. It’s boring. I want to see them jump off a building, and go through explosions, and deal with whatever they’re going to deal with, but ultimately I want them to be doing it because of something that I do recognize as important in me, and we all recognize is important in us.

And I feel like sometimes people forget that part. The motivations become rather specific to that character, not universal, and therefore sort of tawdry.

John: Yeah. What you’re talking about, like, “I will start dating again,” like if that’s the realization at the end of this two-hour movie, “I guess I’ll start dating again.” What?! That’s a realization for like the end of a half-hour sitcom. That’s not a movie. That’s not a movie journey.

And I think what you’re talking about is really: Was the character tested hard enough so they can actually prove and get to someplace in the end? And so often I read these scripts, and I understand the sympathies — you love your main character, so you don’t want to hurt your main character, but you need to hurt your main character. You need to make things as difficult as possible for your main character.

Too often I’ll see these situations where, “Wow, that seems impossible — you have to break into that building, and do this, and that,” and like, “Oh, and now these people come and help me do that.” It’s like, why are you adding these people in to helping you do that? The character should have to do it themselves. And they should get caught. And it should get like much, much worse for the character. And you don’t ever make things bad for the character.

I mean, I think you should, you know, I’ve never read a script where I said like, “Oh, I thought they were too hard on their hero.” I want characters to lose their hands. You want bad things to happen to them. And if it’s not that kind of movie then in a comedy you want them to be as humiliated as possible. If it’s a love story you want them to be ripped apart from the person they love for as long as possible to make their reunion meaningful.

And too often I read scripts that aren’t anywhere in the ballpark of how difficult they should make things for the characters.

Craig: I feel like comedies should be the most tortuous for the main characters because that’s where so much of the comedy comes from anyway. But, yeah, I mean, that’s the point. You’re God and the character is Job. Trial by fire. This is the worst thing that could happen to them but it’s the thing that must happen to them. And it must happen today. It can’t happen yesterday, it won’t happen tomorrow. It has to happen right now.

And if they fail, we hear this from executives plenty, “Make sure the stakes are high.” It doesn’t have to be the world exploding, but I have to care if they fail.

John: Yeah. And here is the danger: So when we say like we have to make it as difficult as possible for them, that sounds like an externality applied to them. It’s true, like something else is probably making things difficult for them, but they also have to choose to run into that burning building. You have to make sure that your character is still in charge of making the choices that are making things more difficult for themselves.

And so sometimes they’ll make a bad choice and they’ll suffer the consequences from it. Sometimes they’ll make the right heroic bold choice, but that is going to make things more difficult for them. And so it’s not just about planes falling from the sky or some sort of external calamity. It has to be something that they’re doing that’s making the situation more difficult for themselves.

Craig: Yeah. And sometimes it’s the smallest thing. But whether you’re writing a drama or a comedy you must be writing drama. Always. You have to find drama and you have to understand what drama is. Sophie’s Choice is the smallest thing. It will not change the world.

John: No.

Craig: She has to pick one kid or another in a moment and then live with that decision her whole life. And the world didn’t change. Nothing changed. But it was dramatic. It was so dramatic because as humans — and this is why it’s a great story — we connect with it immediately and emotionally and we’re there. And we’re in it and we can feel it inside of us. It feels awful. And if you can’t find drama, whether it’s big or small, in a goofy comedy or in a weepy movie, you’re dead.

John: And because Sophie’s Choice has become sort of a cliché of a Sophie’s Choice, but it’s an irrevocable choice. And that’s the other thing that you see so often in scripts that aren’t working is that characters make a choice but they can easily just undo that choice and there’s no consequence for them to sort of go back to their previous behavior, their previous lives.

That’s why I always like “burn down the house.” Make sure they can’t go back to that safe place they were at in the start of the movie. They have to keep pushing forward and they have to keep pushing on. And every time they make a choice, never let them unmake that choice.

Craig: Right.

John: That’s sometimes, yes, that is you as the writer creating a situation and building a choice that is irrevocable — that’s good. That’s your job as the writer.

Craig: It’s dramatic. All of this is drama. All of it.

John: Yeah. So, these are some of the things I would have said of this hypothetical script if we had read it. Anything more you want to add?

Craig: Oh, just that the writer of this hypothetical script is the worst.

John: Just the worst. Brave, first off, so brave for sending in his script and letting us read the script.

Craig: [laughs] So brave and so delusional.

John: [laughs] And thank you, Stuart, for reading 500 screenplays so we could pick this one to talk to.

Craig: Seriously. I owe this guy a beer.

John: Yeah. But, that was fun.

Now, Craig, this week I did actually email you to say, like, hey don’t forget your One Cool Thing. “Did you remember your One Cool Thing?”

Craig: I did. I totally did.

John: Hooray.

Craig: Should I go first?

John: You can go first or I can go first. Your choice? Mine is a little Christmassy.

Craig: Oh, so is mine.

John: Great. You go first.

Craig: Okay, well mine is sort of inspired by Thanksgiving but then I realized it applies for Christmas as well. And my Cool Thing is brining. Now, did you make your turkey?

John: I did make my turkey.

Craig: Did you brine your turkey?

John: I did not brine my turkey. But I’m fascinated to hear this discussion because I want to know.

Craig: Brining is the key to turkey. So, here’s the issue with turkey: There are multiple problems cooking a turkey and you can see that when you eat it and it’s dry and gross.

So, one problem with turkey is that it’s huge, so it takes a long time to cook. The longer you cook meat, the drier it gets. The second problem is that the breast meat cooks much faster than the dark meat, so in order to get the dark meat at a temperature that won’t kill you, you end up desecrating the breast meat, and so you end up with the syndrome of like, “Oh, this is pretty good dark meat, although I’m not really a big fan of dark meat. I really like white meat and this white meat is just saw dust. What happened?”

Enter brining. Brining is brilliant. So, here’s what you do: You take a turkey — and you can do this with chicken, or pretty much anything — take a turkey and you put it in a solution that is roughly 5% salt water. And you can use Kosher salt — most people use Kosher salt because it doesn’t have a lot of the anti-caking agents and things that they put in regular table salt. And it comes in big boxes and it’s easy to dump in water.

And you can put some other things in there. You can put some sugar or spices in if you want. And you take your turkey and you put it in this solution. And imagine you’ve got one of those five gallon coolers. So, you put enough water in to submerge the turkey completely. You put in enough salt to hit about 5%. And there are guides online to show you how many cups of salt per how many liters of water. And then you put in a bunch of ice to keep the whole thing refrigerated.

You seal it up and you leave it in there for anywhere from they say 12 to 24 hours. Here’s the magic of science. What happens? The salt water penetrates into the muscle tissue and saline does two things. The first thing, the most important thing, is that it begins to slowly denature the proteins. Proteins are complicated molecules. Have you ever seen pictures of proteins, like the molecule structures online?

John: I have.

Craig: Yeah. So they’re like really big and they’re like all clumpy and turned around and that’s why protein is really good at making muscles and hair that’s curly and stuff like that. So, the saline gets inside and starts to slowly unravel them and loosen them up. And by loosening them up, and even partially dissolving them, they begin to create more space between the proteins. They essentially — it’s like taking a tightly knotted rope and slowly working it so it gets nice and loose.

So, now, what do loose fibers taste like as opposed to dense fibers? They taste tender. We translate that in our mouths as tender. So, that’s the first thing it’s doing: it’s tenderizing the meat. The second thing it does is by creating all this space, and because the turkey is at a lower saline level than the salt water, it allows all this moisture to go into the turkey, so the turkey starts to act like a sponge and increase in moisture.

Now you think, “Oh, I don’t want to eat a sponge.” You won’t. Because what happens is the turkey will gain maybe 20% water volume through the brining process. But the cooking process, which is so drying, will cause it to lose about that much. So, what you end up getting is the moisture that you should have had from the turkey in the first place, plus this nice, tender meat that has a little bit of saltiness to it, just a little bit, which you like — people like a little bit of saltiness to their food anyway.

Brining is the key. I’m telling you, it’s the most amazing thing. So, you leave it in there for 24 hours, take it out, rinse it off, get all that salt off the outside, pat it dry. Good to go.

John: So, I do not brine my turkeys, but I’m familiar with some of your techniques and I think they’re fascinating. A few footnotes and observations. What kind of turkey were you using? Were you using a normal store-bought turkey? Were you using an organic turkey? Which turkey were you using for this?

Craig: I didn’t make the turkey for this Thanksgiving because I was over at Derek’s, but in the past I have used — I try and use a Kosher turkey because they tend to not have a bunch of — you know, sometimes when you get the store-bought turkeys they’ve already kind of put weird stuff in there.

John: Because what I was going to say is some of the store-bought turkeys, I don’t want to say Butterball is a bad brand, but part of the reason — they kind of already do the brining for it because they can sell it as a more expensive turkey because they’ve increased the water weight of it.

Craig: They’ve kind of done it, but they haven’t done it well.

John: They haven’t done it well, which is true. But I think if you were to try to brine again a Butterball, a kind of crappy Butterball turkey, you might have mixed results. The second point is that you bring up like all that time in the oven is what dries out the breast meat, and that brings me to sort of how I have cooked turkey these past few years and it worked well last night, was you don’t do it low and slow in an oven. You do it in an incredibly hot oven.

And we cooked a 21-pound bird in about two hours and fifteen minutes. So, it’s a 500-degree oven, which sounds ridiculously hot, and it is really, really hot; you have to be careful you don’t burn yourself. But you put the bird in, incredibly hot. The bird is at room temperature, you put it in, incredibly hot, keep the oven door sealed so no heat gets out. 45 minutes, you need to tent it over or else it’s going to get too dark. It’s a really nice pretty golden color.

And then it’s out of the oven so soon, the breast meat doesn’t have a chance to dry out the way it otherwise would. And it worked and it got nice and hot. You need to let it rest so that all the juices can sort of get back to where they need to be anyway.

That’s one of the classic problems of turkey anyway is people are waiting so long for the bird that the minute they pull it out of the oven they try to carve it and all the juices have been sort of circulating, they just fall out on the board. And that’s why it dries out, too.

Craig: That is absolutely true. And I’ve read about the high heat cooking method, and that is a good method. And a lot of people will sort of interrupt that sort of three-quarters of the way through and tent the breast with foil so that the legs and the thighs can cook while the breast sort of doesn’t get pelted as much.

The other thing I’ve done is the whole deep friend turkey thing, which is dangerous, and crazy, and awesome. [laughs] But, because you’re a man of science, and because I know how left brain you are, I strongly recommend to you and to all of our listeners, Cook’s Illustrated…

John: Fantastic.

Craig: …and their associated cookbook, The Best Recipe, in which they approach everything from a scientific way and sort of say, “We have decided after cooking 4,000 turkeys this is the best way.”

John: So, what’s great about Cook’s Illustrated is every article about, like, how to cook everything is all about the technique. It’s like, “So, I went through this thing, I had these frustrations.” I went back though these recipe books and I kind of think it’s all made up. I think that they sort of create a narrative after the fact for like, “Here’s a really good recipe, let’s make up a story about how we got to this recipe.” But it is fun. And like, you know, “Confused, I went to our science editor who talked me through sort of how this protein reaction was working, or why adding sugar at this stage did stuff.”

Still, it’s great fun. It’s really well-illustrated. It’s called Cook’s Illustrated. There are no pictures; it’s all drawings. You should check it out if you get a chance.

Craig: Yeah. It’s awesome.

John: So, my thing is also a cool illustrated thing. It’s called Ticket to Ride. Craig, have you played Ticket to Ride?

Craig: I have not, but it sounds like another game that I should try.

John: You will love…

Craig: I’ve had mixed results. I did great on Ski Safari. You repeatedly kicked my ass in Letterpress, so I guess maybe this one. Maybe this will be the trick.

John: Ticket to Ride began its life as a board game. It came out in 2004. And it’s a German-style game, which doesn’t mean it’s in German. It means that it’s one of those games where it’s more about strategy than open conflict. So, it’s not like Risk where it’s a zero sum game, or Monopoly. It’s sometimes you’re actually kind of cooperating with the other players in order to get what you want out of it. And there’s some resource management involved.

It’s not as difficult or sort of strategically challenging as Settlers of Catan, but it’s sort of in that universe. If you like Settlers of Catan you’ll love this game.

Craig: Yeah, that one frustrated me a little bit.

John: So, the idea behind this is, in the basic game you have a map of America and it’s like 1910 or so. And you have all the cities. And there are these rail lines connecting these. And basically you’re trying to build rail lines between the different cities. And so these cards show which two cities you’re trying to connect, and then you have to — you’re drawing these other cards in order to build the trains from place to place.

And so you’re trying to get these routes before other people get these routes. But you don’t know what they’re actually trying to connect and you get different points for different things you do. It’s really ingeniously set up and incredibly well-designed.

And so I’d seen it in a bunch of game blogs and everybody would talk about how amazing it was. And so I bought it on Amazon just on a whim and I stuck it on a high shelf figuring whenever my daughter was old enough we could play as a family.

And she’s seven and she’s really good at games so we broke it out last month. And we’ve been playing it a lot. It’s really, really well done. And so if you have a kid who’s seven and into games they can play it.

It takes about 45 minutes. It’s not too involved. And, there is an iPad version which is not surprisingly addictive in that you can play by yourself, against computer opponents, or you can play it one on one against people on the internet or in the same room. You can just play it off of Bluetooth or WiFi. And so, you know, at bed time Mike and I will be each on our iPad playing a game of this. And it goes super fast because all the physical stuff gets taken out of it and you can just go — pure strategy.

So, I highly recommend it. The reason why I say Christmas, it’s a really good gift for Christmas, like if you know somebody who likes board games who hasn’t played this yet, they will probably love it. And so I feel like it would be a really good thing to get for Christmas with your family if they like board games and haven’t played this — they’d probably dig it a lot and it’s a good fun time.

It’s for two to five players for the physical game, and the iPad version is either solo or you can pass and play and do other stuff, too.

Craig: So, because Settlers of Catan, I wouldn’t play with say my seven-year-old, or almost eight-year-old daughter, or my 11-year-old son. It seems a little…

John: I wouldn’t be surprised. I think your 11-year-old might be able to handle it at this point. Like Settlers of Catan is overwhelming when you first try to do it, but then you actually realize, “Okay, it’s strategy.” So, the rules are really simple; figuring out how to actually get through it, how to optimize can be tough.

Craig: And is that the case with this as well?

John: It is. Similar kind of game. And what I like about the German-style board games is that if you’re really good at it you’re more likely to win. But if you’re not actually all that good at it you’re not likely to get squashed. They’re sort of set up in a way that being ahead actually has a bit of a penalty to it. When everyone can see that you’re ahead they’re going to try to block you or stop you from doing things.

And so no one sort of clears the board. No one takes over everything. And it doesn’t have that punishing aspect of Risk or Monopoly where one person is completely dominant and the other person is worse. Here, the person who wins might get 120 points and the second place person might get like 105. It doesn’t feel like you got killed.

Craig: I like that. Risk or Monopoly are sort of drain-circling games where once you start losing it’s just a slow spiral to death.

You know, my kids play Mario Party on the Nintendo and it’s kind of brilliant how you truly cannot predict who is going to win that game until maybe the last two minutes of it. Because they’ll give you points for being in last place. [laughs] They’re so good about it. They’re so smart. So, I like that idea of sort of not knowing… — Sorry, by the way, which I play with my kids, you know, a classic board game. Sorry is so good at that.

You think you’re winning and then you’re not.

John: Yeah.

Craig: That’s cool.

John: Sorry though is ultimately up to chance. Like, did you get a bunch of good rolls?

Craig: Yeah, there’s no strategy whatsoever.

John: There’s no strategy.

Craig: Frankly, it sounds like this game would be a good use of the Simplex Algorithm.

John: I’m sure the Simplex Algorithm could be used to maximum effect.

Craig: Yes.

John: Yeah. So, Craig, thank you so much.

Craig: Thank you.

John: A fun podcast and we’ll be back at this next week.

Craig: Woo! And remember, folks, brine those turkeys.

John: Brine those turkeys. Take care.

Craig: Bye.