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.

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.

World-building

John and Craig discuss how you create a fictional universe for your story, and the limits of how much can fit on the page. From location to language to wardrobe, choosing which details to make explicit is a crucial early decision. Too little detail and the reader doesn’t know how your story is special; too much detail and the story gets lost.

How modern English got that way

David Shariatmadari looks at several of the reasons English has shifted, both in spelling and pronunciation.

So Many Questions

John has questions about the questions Craig answered on his Reddit AMA, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg as we answer six great listener questions.

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.

Procrastination and Pageorexia

Craig and John get in your head to talk procrastination, pageorexia and generalized anxiety. They also move beyond the psychopathology to discuss all the changes in the industry, from cable mergers to lawsuits to disruptive technologies. You’re not as paranoid as you think you are.

Period Space

John and Craig tackle the greatest controversy in screenwriting: how many spaces to put after the period. From there, it’s follow-up on the Final Draft episode, including some behind-the-scene details.

Comparing a scene as written and as shot

Using a scene from my 2003 pilot “Alaska,” I thought it would be interesting to compare the written scene to what it looked like in the final version.

Not Just Dialogue

John and Craig take an extended look at how sound works in movies, and how screenwriters can take advantage of it on the page.

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.

How screenwriting style changed movies

A listener makes the case that modern screenwriting style has changed how scenes themselves work.

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.

Is 15 the new 30?

Have first acts gotten shorter, or does it just feel that way? John and Craig discuss the pressure on screenwriters to “get to it” faster, and why that’s often the wrong goal.

The Origins and Formatting of Modern Screenplays

John Hess gives a terrific overview of the history of the screenplay format, and how changes in the film industry changed how the words are arranged on the page.

10 Questions, 10 Answers

John and Craig tackle the bursting mailbag, answering listener questions on topics ranging from the variable length of the TV season to underachieving agents to embarrassing IMDb credits.

Let’s talk about Nikki Finke

John and Craig discuss the polarizing potentate of Deadline Hollywood Daily, then segue into what a healthy entertainment journalism ecosystem might look like.

Sounds teenagers make

James Harbeck analyzes some of the common annoying sounds in teenage speech, many of which are hard to portray in dialogue.

Writing effective transitions

How you get from one scene to the next can be just as important as the scenes themselves. Craig and John talk techniques and tactics for making those cuts count.

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. […]

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.