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Story and Plot

Austin Forever

John and guest host Susannah Grant sit down with Richard Kelly, Cary Fukunaga, Peter Gould, Dan Sterling and Mike Birbiglia to discuss the role of a writer/director, the wonder of television, and the purpose of table reads.

Writer Emergency Pack, now in pre-launch

We’re getting close to launching a new project called Writer Emergency Pack. It’s designed as a survival tool for writers. It’s not an app or a book. It’s more like a crowbar for getting unstuck. It’s for screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, students, writing teachers — anyone who deals with story.

Ghost

Craig loves the 1990 blockbuster Ghost. John? Ditto. Written by Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Jerry Zucker, Ghost set the template for the modern romantic drama. It was Twilight before Twilight, Titanic before Titanic. It won hearts, weekends and Oscars, including best screenplay.

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.

Making Things Better by Making Things Worse

John and Craig talk structure and escalation. Structure is simply what happens when. Escalation is how things get tougher.

The Rocky Shoals (pages 70-90)

Aline Brosh McKenna joins Craig and John to talk about the difficult journey through pages 70-90 of your feature. After that, we talk about procrastination, the Panic Monster and our inner Instant Gratification Monkeys.

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.

Wet Hot American Podcast

Writer-Director David Wain joins John and Craig to talk about the long journey to bring They Came Together to the screen (on June 27th), the changing nature of spoofs, and the seminal summer camp film Wet Hot American Summer.

The Angeles Crest Fiasco

Screenwriter Kelly Marcel joins John and Craig to play Fiasco, resulting in a tale of art, murder and sexual blackmail in the Hollywood Hills.

The accidental set-up

Any time you refer to a place — be it “the supermarket,” “school,” or “Boston” — you create a natural expectation that we will visit that place at some point in the story.

Michael Arndt on setting a story in motion

Michael Arndt explains some of the things he learned while working on the screenplay for Toy Story 3.

Groundhog Day

John and Craig pay their respects to Harold Ramis with an episode devoted entirely to Groundhog Day.

When you think someone stole your idea

A screenwriter sees a trailer that matches the premise of something he wrote ten years earlier. Was it idea theft, or just a good idea.

Frozen with Jennifer Lee

In the tradition of the Raiders and Little Mermaid episodes, John and guest host Aline Brosh McKenna discuss and dissect the award-winning, record-setting, paradigm-shifting Frozen. But this time, we have the writer on hand to answer our questions.

Scriptnotes Holiday Spectacular

‘Twas the Holiday Scriptnotes and at our behest, Craig and John were joined by our six favorite guests.

Let’s talk about coverage

Craig and John talk readers and coverage, centering their discussion on profound_whatever’s infographic charting 300 submissions and the lessons screenwriters can take from it.

Positive Moviegoing

Aline Brosh McKenna joins John and Craig to discuss watching movies with an open mind and why it’s important to befriend other writers.

Damsels in distress

Craig and John love women and jeopardy, but folks, we gotta stop kidnapping girlfriends as plot devices. We discuss ways to avoid this trope.

Scriptnotes: Back to Austin with Rian Johnson and Kelly Marcel

Craig and John head to the Austin Film Festival for another live edition of Scriptnotes. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the crowd for this packed show featuring Looper writer/director Rian Johnson and Saving Mr. Banks screenwriter Kelly Marcel.

Let me give you some advice

Craig and John go back to basics with an all advice episode, looking at the Dear J.J. recommendations for Star Wars, Tony Gilroy’s advice to screenwriters and whatever’s up with Max Landis.

Scriptnotes Live from New York

John and Craig welcome their largest live audience yet for a conversation about Kickstarter, movie pilots and musicals. Joined by special guest Andrew Lippa, they talk about the special challenges and opportunities that arise when characters break into song.

Ender’s Game, one-hours and alt-jokes

John and Craig discuss the impact of author Orson Scott Card’s personal toxicity on Ender’s Game, and what it means for that movie and how it will this affect studio decisions moving forward.

Disaster Porn, and Spelling Things Out

John and Craig discuss Damon Lindelof’s interview about how plot stakes have escalated lockstep with budget, perhaps to the point of absurdity.

101: Q&A from the live show

In this special bonus episode, John and Craig answer listener questions from the 100th episode with help from guests Rawson Thurber and Aline Brosh McKenna.

Scriptnotes, the 100th episode

John and Craig are joined by Aline Brosh McKenna and Rawson Thurber for the 100th episode of Scriptnotes, recorded live at the Academy Lab in Hollywood. It was a great night with an amazing audience.