Splitting the Party

John and Craig talk about the trope of “Never split the party,” and why, as a writer, you often want and need to divide up your characters to better explore relationships, propel the story forward, give actors something to do, and simply fit everyone in the frame. We also follow up on screenwriting scams, sequences, […]

Austin Live Show 2018

John and Craig invite Wendy Calhoun (Station 19, Empire), Phil Hay (The Invitation, Ride Along), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel), and Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman, Ice Age: Continental Drift) to join them onstage for a discussion about the death of the writing middle class, why we get bored during a film or […]

No Writing Left Behind

John and Craig discuss the dangers of leave-behinds. The “writing before the writing” is an important part of the craft, but giving it away for free is bad for everyone. We also answer a listener question about character wants versus needs, and why that distinction has become such a guru staple. Links: Hope to see […]

Putting Words on the Page

John and Craig discuss the digital tools of the trade. From outline to first draft to production rewrites, screenwriters find themselves facing different challenges. We talk about what works for each of us. We also speculate on what impact Highland 2’s gender analysis tool will have. Then we answer listener questions about following the “rules” […]

Outlines and Treatments

John and Craig look at the non-screenplay things screenwriters end up writing, most notably outlines and treatments. We discuss some of the ones we’ve written (with examples), and offer advice on writing your own.

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.

Beware of miserable success

I really like Dan Harmon’s advice to young writers in the sidebar to THR’s showrunner feature.

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.

Outlines, treatments and numbered pages

To me, an outline tends to be less prose-y and feature more bullet points, but there is no common consensus in Hollywood about what’s what. We use “treatment” and “outline” interchangeably.

Pitching Star Trek

Roddenberry’s 1964 outline is the same kind of write-up TV writers use today.

WTF is a beat sheet?

Is a beat sheet an actual thing, or a mythical Hollywood construct?

Based on an idea by…

“Based on an idea by” is a rare credit, for good reason.

The perils of coincidence

The big villain in Spider-Man 3 was a plague of coincidence. Here’s how they could have avoided it.

Air vents are for air

Ladies and gentlemen, screenwriters, it’s time to stop putting character in air vents.

What became of American McGee’s Alice?

Update query on the video game potentially becoming a movie.

Selling a story if you’re not a screenwriter

It’s hard work to take an idea and turn it into a movie without knowing how to write, but it happens all the time.

Got the story, but I can’t write

Can’t write your great idea? Find someone who can.

To google google

If Kafka ran google.

How long a treatment?

There’s no standard, but past 20 pages I’d be worried.

Specs, treatments, and pitches

The differences, defined.