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QandA

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.

Moving On is not Giving Up

John and Craig discuss when to stop rewriting a project and accept that it’s just not going to become a movie. Then we go bigger to look at when to give up on the dream of being a screenwriter — which starts with a hard look at why people seek out the career in the first place.

Writing vs. Speaking

For screenwriters, John McWhorter’s TEDTalk on texting grammar is a useful reminder of the differences between how people talk and how they write. Speech is made up of word clusters with no discrete punctuation. Because speech is almost always dialogue — you’re usually speaking with somebody — it’s structured in a way that allows interruption. […]

Taking notes

Craig leads the discussion on how to survive a notes meeting. As screenwriters, our instinct is to defend, deny and debate — but these are almost always the wrong choice. By reframing the discussion about the movie rather than the script, you can often end up at a better place.

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.

First sale and funny on the page

Craig and John look at two recent court decisions that could have a big impact on how movies get sold and resold — and how writers get paid. First-Sale Doctrine is one of those intractable issues that involves freedom and control, bits and atoms, creators and consumers.

A city born of fire

Writer Derek Haas (Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma) joins John and Craig to discuss gay slurs, refrigerator logic and his TV show, Chicago Fire.

Veronica Mars Attacks

Craig and John discuss the big Veronica Mars/Kickstarter news in one of the more contentious podcasts to date. If you like umbrage, this is the show for you.

Blunt notes and Blade Runner

A Reddit user uncovered some [blunt Blade Runner notes, which are not at all uncommon.

Rhythm and Blues

John and Craig talk homesickness and daddy issues before diving into a discussion on what Rhythm and Hues’s bankruptcy means for the film industry — and similar scenarios screenwriters might face down the road.

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.

The Germans have a word for it

Craig and John take a look at the class-action suit over Hollywood’s unpaid interns, then discuss envy and jealousy and other unproductive emotions.

We’d Like to Make an Offer

John and Craig discuss spec scripts, pitches and how it feels when your movie gets brutal reviews.

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.

Villains

John and Craig give heroes the week off and talk bad guys. Not every movie needs a villain, but if you have one, he better be good.

The hyenas got a raw deal

The hyenas from The Lion King are hungry, yo.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Craig and John spend the entire episode discussing and dissecting RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, looking at both its structure and scene work.

The second letter in R&D stands for development

Variety’s David S. Cohen returns from CES with a warning that studios need to invest in R&D — but that’s why they hire screenwriters.

Today’s trends are tomorrow’s clichés

Eric D. Snider looks at patterns in 2012 movies.

Sprints, marathons and migrations

This week, I’ve been working on a feature, a TV pilot and the stage musical of Big Fish. It’s gotten me thinking about the nature of different forms of dramatic writing.

Unless they pay you, the answer is no

John and Craig return from the holidays to look at the WGA nominations, the perennially high costs of movies, scene headers and acceptable fonts for treatments.

Present tension

Robert Jackson Bennett looks at the benefits and drawback of writing fiction in the present tense.

Best of Outlines, Agents and Good Boy Syndrome

Craig and John start the year with a look back at three very early episodes not currently on iTunes, discussing outlines, agents and the Good Boy Syndrome.

Eggnog and Dreadlock Santa

It’s Christmas, so John and Craig are exchanging the gift of answers, tackling listener questions on topics ranging from musical books to punch-up sessions.

Talking Austen in Austin

Craig and John chat with Lindsay Doran, a producer and former studio exec who’s made terrific movies, ranging from Sense and Sensibility to Stranger than Fiction.