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Everything but the dialogue

John and Craig take a deep dive into scene description, looking at how seven produced screenplays arranged the words on the page. With samples from Aliens, Erin Brockovich, Oceans 11, Unforgiven, Wall-E, Wanted and Whip It, we tackle verbs and metaphors, ellipses and underlining.

The Scriptnotes 200-episode USB drive

For a limited time, we’re selling a USB flash drive loaded with the first 200 episodes of Scriptnotes — including all the bonus shows, the Dirty Episode, and special interviews. They’re $20 and available in the Store.

The One with Alec Berg

Craig sits down with Silicon Valley writer/director Alec Berg to talk about set ups and payoffs, editing comedy and how writing teams get screwed.

How would this be a movie?

John and Craig look at three current news stories from a screenwriter’s perspective, discussing how each lends itself to becoming a movie.

The 200th Episode Live Feed

On Wednesday, May 27th — tomorrow — we’ll be recording the 200th episode of Scriptnotes. Everyone is invited to listen to the live feed. You can find it right here at johnaugust.com.

Second Draft Doldrums

Craig and John discuss finding your way back to your story — and your enthusiasm — when writing your second draft. Craig has tips and suggestions. John has sympathy and war stories.

Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder at the WGA

As hoped, the WGA screening series has opened up my Q&A with Bruce Joel Rubin to everyone. This Saturday, April 25th, starting at 5pm.

Poking the bear

This week, Craig and John discuss recent events that seem custom-designed to make Craig furious.

How writing credits work

Craig and John do a deep-dive into the world of screenwriting credits, explaining the entire process from the Notice of Tentative Writing Credits, to arbitration to review boards. The system can be confusing, but most produced screenwriters will find themselves facing it at some point, so it’s important to understand how it works.

You can’t train a cobra to do that

Craig and John discuss backup plans, camera directions, and becoming so good they can’t ignore you. Plus we answer two listener questions about specificity in scene headers and how to indicate that a script is intended for animation.

The Deal with Scripped.com

Craig and John talk with the owner of Scripped.com to investigate what happened when the online screenwriting site suddenly went down this week, erasing four years of screenwriters’ work. When things went south, why did he try to distance himself from the debacle, and what comes next? It’s a candid discussion — but far less uncomfortable than the Final Draft episode.

Midseason Finale

Craig and John wrap up many plotlines from previous episodes, with follow-up on Three Page Challenges, diversity numbers, Road Runner and other rules, plus the Gravity lawsuit in light of the Blurred Lines verdict.

The Rules (or, the Paradox of the Outlier)

John and Craig discuss this year’s screenplay Oscar winners, including the success of Birdman’s outside-the-box approach and Graham Moore’s speech.

Go Set a Spider-Man

From Harper Lee to Sony to the Wheel of Time, it was a big week for studios trying to hold onto intellectual property. John and Craig discuss why those deals take such strange turns, including 1:30 a.m. airings on cable.

The Deal with the Gravity Lawsuit

John and Craig do a deep dive on Tess Gerritsen’s lawsuit concerning Gravity, using the case as a way to talk about contracts, chain of title, adaptation and corporate ownership. Spoiler: It’s really complicated, but it’s really interesting too.

The Dirty Show

In a special bonus Scriptnotes, we sit down with writer-actress Rebel Wilson and author-columnist Dan Savage to talk sex, television, swearing, and poop.

Bad Teachers, Good Advice and the Default Male

Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig to discuss the how movies featuring good mentors (Dead Poet’s Society, To Sir with Love) differ from films with bad mentors (Whiplash, The Devil Wears Prada). It’s not just that the teachers are bad guys; rather, the stories are structured completely differently.

Doing, not thinking

John and Craig start the new year by discussing Chuck Palahniuk’s advice to avoid thinking verbs. Then it’s a new round of the Three Page Challenge.

Advice to a First-Time Director

John and Craig offer advice to a director taking the plunge, with guidance on both getting the work done and getting the performances you want. From there, we segue into a discussion of the Perfect Director, the next installment of our Perfect series.

Hacks, Transference and Where to Begin

John and Craig talk about where to start a story — how far back should you go? The decision about whether to meet the hero as a child, in their normal rut, or mid-crisis fundamentally changes the narrative, so it’s worth exploring fully.

Mapping and scribbling

As part of their Creative Spark series, The Academy shot a video with me talking about my creative process.

Finishing a script, and the Perfect Studio Executive

What are the odds that fivethirtyeight.com’s statistical analysis of screenplays will make Craig angry? Always bet on umbrage. Fortunately, he just finished a script, so we talk about that, and John’s new gig writing Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (which was the project he described phone-pitching the past few episodes).

Toxic Perfection Syndrome

Craig and John discuss that delusional period in which you’re convinced your script is the best thing ever written — and the inevitable heartbreak when someone tells you it isn’t. (TPS is close cousins to the Oscar Speech in the Shower.)

Dressing like a screenwriter

We’ve re-opened the John August Store with new shirts for Scriptnotes and Highland, plus our first ever hoodie.

Should we make more Scriptnotes t-shirts?

We have very few Scriptnotes t-shirts left in the store. We’re considering printing a new batch, but we’re not sure which color listeners would actually want. The first round of shirts came in Umbrage Orange and Rational Blue. The second batch came in only Basic Blacklist. For the new t-shirts, we’re considering revisiting one of […]