The One Where Aline’s Show Debuts

Aline Brosh McKenna joins us to talk through the launch of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and what she’s learned since she introduced us to the show nearly a year ago. Brian Lowry of Variety raves that it is “one of the fall’s most promising hours.” We’re not surprised at all.

Features are different

John and Craig look at how writing feature films is fundamentally different than writing television, and how that difference begins at the point of story inception. It’s not just that movies are longer; they’re also built to be unique events, with characters embarking on once-in-a-lifetime journeys. We discuss how to decide whether an idea is better suited for features or series, and lessons learned from properties that have existed in both worlds.

How descriptive narration gets written

On this week’s episode of Scriptnotes, I asked whether listeners had any experience with how descriptive narration for the blind was written, and whether those writers consulted the screenplay. Several listeners quickly pointed me to WGBH, and this FAQ.

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 to Get Staffed on a TV show

Gina Ippolito writes about how she got staffed on her first TV show.

The 200th Episode Live Show

Craig, John, and Aline record the 200th episode of Scriptnotes live with a worldwide audience listening in — and chiming in — as they discuss TV showrunning and whether quality really counts at the box office.

The long and short of it

John and Craig dig into the listener mailbag and take questions on TV producer credits, jealousy over other writers’ success, writing tight vs writing long and plenty of other follow up.

Hardy Boys, in outline form

It’s fascinating to look at something so old yet so familiar. Most modern televison writing goes through an outline stage, at which point the studio and network signs off on the story — or sends it back with notes.

Malcolm Spellman, a Study in Heat

Screenwriter Malcolm Spellman joins Craig and John to talk about his big break, blown opportunities, and getting momentum back. Now part of the smash hit Empire, he talks about the changes and challenges African-American writers face both on the small screen and the big screen.

The One with Rebel Wilson and Dan Savage

John and Craig discuss exploding scripts and stock scenes. Then in the second half of the show, we welcome two very special guests.

Twelve Days of Scriptnotes

Craig and John welcome special guests Aline Brosh McKenna, Rachel Bloom, B.J. Novak, Jane Espenson and Derek Haas to talk about writing books, movies and especially television.

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.

Texting in film and television

Craig and I may have taken umbrage at his video about comedy directors who aren’t Edgar Wright, but Tony Zhou’s newest video looking at how filmmakers handle texting and the internet on-screen is all good. Zhou’s underlying point is that we still haven’t settled on conventions for showing texting or the internet. And that’s good! […]

Yes, screenwriting is actually writing

Craig and John take a swing at several of the week’s hyperbolic headlines, from conflict-free comedy to Fitzgerald’s failures to Strong Female Characters with nothing to do. In each case, there’s a valid idea lurking beneath the overstated claim, but it’s important to separate good examples from bad.

Q&A from the Superhero Spectacular

Craig and John, along with their talented panelists, answer questions from the audience at the May 15, 2014 live show.

Wait for it

Robin Sloan wonders whether all-at-once seasons like House of Cards work against the shows by denying viewers the joy of anticipation.

Writing in another writer’s style

It can be strangely satisfying to surrender your ego and imagine yourself as a wholly different writer.

TV writer on set

Dara Resnick Creasey writes about her first time being the [staff writer on set]

Uncomfortable Ambiguity, or Nobody Wants Me at their Orgy

Nothing is cut-and-dried this week. John and Craig talk Game of Thrones rape, allegations against director Bryan Singer and the new report showing the same low employment numbers for female writers in film and TV.

The Crossover Episode

John and Craig visit Ben Blacker’s Nerdist Writers Panel for a special crossover episode, recorded in front of a live audience on April 13, 2014.

Old Projects

Maybe I’m hyper-aware because yesterday was the 15th anniversary of Go, but I’m encountering sorts of references to past projects this week.

Draw Your Own Werewolf

Craig delights as John gets @-napped in a Twitter thread about copyright infringement. Then they talk disruption in television, and how it affects writers.

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.

Women and Pilots

Carolyn Strauss, executive producer of Game of Thrones, joins John and Craig to discuss female directors and the death of pilot season. In one short hour, they solve all the intractable problems facing the film and television industry. (Not true. Not even remotely.)

Netflix, Nikita, and the sense of an ending

Merrill Barr explains why Nikita’s final six-episode season is mostly for Netflix: The old model was simple: start a show, make 100 episodes, sell-off the syndication rights, continue producing episodes until it’s no longer cost-effective and cancel the series. That was it. In that model, endings mean nothing; they’re just convenient wrap-ups to a story […]