The Perfect Reader

Scriptnotes: Ep. 173

Craig and John discuss the qualities of the perfect reader, whether it’s a studio professional or your screenwriting buddy. What should a reader look for, and how should she communicate her thoughts?

We also discuss loan-out companies and why writers need them, and offer advice on starting a podcast. Plus a lot of turkey talk.

In follow up, most of what we thought we knew about Franz Kafka was wrong — but maybe that’s okay. Bob Odenkirk already made a sketch about judging. And if you haven’t purchased tickets for the live show on December 11th, get on that.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 12-10-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Mapping and scribbling

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

Man, I talk with my hands a lot. But overall, I’m happy with how the video turned out.

The whole series is terrific. As an Academy member, I love this increased focus on showing the process of filmmaking, and the faces that go with the names.

My hope is that videos like these not only inspire new filmmakers, but also help film fans appreciate how many talented craftspeople work to make their favorite films come to life.

Franz Kafka’s brother, and the perfect agent

Scriptnotes: Ep. 172

John and Craig talk about why writers are often reluctant to show their work, and how film journalists love to focus on the director — even when there’s no director in sight.

Then, it’s part two of our Perfect series, in which we look at what constitutes the perfect agent. Underlying the agent archetypes — advisor, advocate, connector — is a relationship based on honesty and trust. How do you build it? How do you maintain it? We offer our opinions from the writer’s side of the phone sheet.

Come to our live show on December 11th in Hollywood! You’ll find the link in the show notes.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 12-1-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Finishing a script, and the Perfect Studio Executive

Scriptnotes: Ep. 171

What are the odds that’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).

Then we talk about what makes for the perfect studio executive. It’s a series we plan to continue, looking at the prototypical awesome person in various categories.

Our December 11th live show is likely to sell out, so don’t delay getting your ticket. And Thursday at noon is the last chance to get a Writer Emergency Pack. Links to both below.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 11-25-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Lotteries, lightning strikes and twist endings

Scriptnotes: Ep. 170

John and Craig look at the nature of fluke hits, everything from #alexfromtarget to huge spec sales. Is luck just luck, or is it about how often you play the game? Where does talent fit in?

We walk through a great breakdown of twist endings by Alec Worley, looking at how expectation both inside and outside of the story shapes the experience.

Then we answer a bunch of listener questions, on topics including using real-life locations, breaking up dialogue, and passing gracefully when you don’t like a project.

The Scriptnotes Holiday show is December 11th in Hollywood, featuring guests Aline Brosh McKenna, B.J. Novak, Jane Espenson and Derek Haas. Check the link below for tickets.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 11-17-14: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

In praise of flat adverbs

Emily Brewster of Merriam-Webster offers a cogent defense of “drive safe,” “take it easy” and other cases in which adverbs seem to be missing their -ly ending:

It’s not simply a matter of do-what-you-want. These words really are adverbs, they just look like their related adjective forms. A good example is “near.” It’s an adjective, a preposition and adverb — even though there is also an -ly form.

It was a near miss. [adjective]

I work near the train station. [preposition]

The deadline draws near. [adverb]

Christmas is nearly here. [adverb]

They’re all related, but you can’t use them interchangeably.

Last night, Stuart corrected something I wrote in a Kickstarter update. Instead of “look close,” he suggested “look closely.” Both work, but there’s something I really love about the flat form.

Thanks to Bryce Edmonds for the link.