The Mystery of the Disappearing Articles

John and Craig take a look at four new entries in the Three Page Challenge, ranging from galactic drama to medieval comedy. Along the way, they talk about the nature of one-hour teasers, trust, plausibility, and how to properly address religious authorities.

Secrets and Lies

John and Craig discuss why most characters are liars, and how that’s actually a good thing. John offers seven suggestions for picking character names that will help your readers. Then we look at a three page challenge that’s been filmed to see what worked on the page versus on screen.

The Long-Lost Austin Three Page Challenge

John and Craig open the vault to bring you a never-before-heard episode recorded live at the 2013 Austin Film Festival, where we did a Three Page Challenge and met with the writers.

The Summer Superhero Spectacular

John and Craig are joined by the writers of the some of the biggest superhero movies to talk about why these characters resonate. Andrea Berloff looks for the primal essence of Conan. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely discuss the challenge of bringing Captain America to a global audience. David Goyer talks about keeping Batman grounded even while Superman flies. Then the whole panel gets busy rebooting randomly-assigned superheroes.

Ghosts Laughing at Jokes

John and Craig talk Lab Rats, multi-cam, and what scenes might mean in their imaginary screenplay format. Craig clarifies what “spec writing” is, and when it’s permitted, both legally and ethically.

The Contract between Writers and Readers

John and Craig look at the implicit contract made between screenwriters and readers — and ultimately, movies and their audience. That’s a natural introduction to our Three Page Challenge and the three new entries we look at this week.

Punching the Salty Ocean

John and Craig took a look at Final Draft 9 and the futility of Twitter arguments before launching into three brand-new Three Page Challenges.

Young Billionaire’s Guide to Hollywood

John and Craig offer advice for super-rich aspirants about the film and television industry. If you have enough money to do anything, what should you do first? Do you want to make money, or make art? Or do you just want to hang out with famous people? No judgements.

Not Safe for Children

Explicit language warning! Even the titles of this week’s Three Page Challenge entries are filthy, so John and Craig let the f-bombs fly.

Are two screens better than one?

John and Craig debate the perils and possibilities of bringing iPads into movie theaters. Is Disney’s Little Mermaid iPad app a way to breathe new life into a classic, or a slippery slope towards cinematic ruin? It’s a conversation with plenty of umbrage — but from an unexpected source.

Adventures in semi-colons

John and Craig tackle three new entries in the Three Page Challenge, ranging from space drama to killer hookers to brassy defense attorneys. Along the way, they find some awkward scene description and a few misused semi-colons.

Hits, misses and hedge funds

Craig and John take a look at one investor’s campaign against Sony Pictures, and George Clooney’s strong reaction. From there, we examine why studios have multiple labels — TriStar is back! — and how that affects writers.

Three Page Challenge, Live Edition

Live from WGF Craft Day, Craig and John tackle three new Three Page Challenge entries…with the writers on hand!

Ugly children and cigarettes

Has a statistician cracked the code on successful screenplay formulas? John and Craig cast a skeptical eye at a New York Times article on Vinny Bruzzese, who claims to have done exactly that.

Another Time and Place

John and Craig discuss the odd dislocation writers experience when writing movies in coffeeshops and windowless offices. We’re literally “someplace else” with our characters, but learning how to work in less-than-ideal circumstances is part of the screenwriter’s trade.

God doesn’t need addresses

Craig is sick and John is in the middle of tech rehearsals, but nothing will stop them from discussing another batch of Three Page Challenges.

Rigorous, structured daydreaming

Craig and John take a look at an old post that found new life this week when it got picked up on Twitter and Reddit. We go beyond the bullet points to look at the process of writing a scene, from asking the basic questions to getting the words on the page.

How screenwriters find their voice

Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig for a conversation about what writers mean by a “voice,” and how it develops.

People still buy movies

With last week’s news that home video stopped its free-fall and actually grew a little bit in 2012, John and Craig discuss whether studios might ease off on one-step deals and other development austerity measures.

The air duct of backstory

John and Craig talk about perspective — both within a scene and the overall story. It’s not always obvious to the reader which characters are in the driver’s seat, so it falls on the screenwriter to make that clear.

The Next 117 Pages

John and Craig talk about everything that comes after the oft-discussed First Three Pages, speculating on the kinds of issues they’d spot if they were looking at full scripts.

Learning from the Three Page Challenge

Every few weeks, Craig and I look at three or four entries to the Three Page Challenge for the podcast. But my assistant, Stuart Friedel, has read more than 500. So I asked him to write up a post discussing the patterns, problems and common themes among what he’s read.

The Mystery of the Js

Craig and John dive back into the Three Page Challenge entries, along with an overview of the 500+ contenders that have been submitted.

Plot holes, and the myth of perseveraversity

John and Craig discuss Frankenweenie and Superhero! before cracking open the mailbox to answer listener questions.

Writing your very first screenplay

In the spirit of Looper, Craig and John take a journey back in time, looking at the first scripts they read, the first scripts they wrote, and the common pitfalls of many first screenplays.