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.

Present tension

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

The Next 117 Pages

John and Craig talk about everything that comes after the oft-discussed First Three Pages, speculating on the kinds of issues they’d spot if they were looking at full scripts.

Alt-universe panels

Craig and John ret-con the Austin Film Festival, placing themselves on panels in which they didn’t participate. It’s a chance to give the answers they would have given without the bother of moderators (and other people’s opinions).

Action is more than just gunfights and car chases

John and Craig are all action this week, looking at how screenwriters write those things characters do in a movie.

Grammar, guns and butter

Craig and John celebrate one year of the podcast by going H.A.M. on the passive voice, the present progressive and reductive nonsense rules.

Dashes, ellipses and underground monsters

John and Craig answer four listener questions, on topics ranging from scene headers to ticket sales. And which is better for an aspiring screenwriter: a low-level job at a major agency, or a steady 9-to-5 job that allows time to write?

Better yet, don’t write anything at all

I quite like Colson Whitehead’s tongue-and-cheek writing advice.

Verbs are what’s happening

This week’s episode finds Craig and John answering questions about agent etiquette, business cards and those troubling rewrites that unravel everything.

Understanding house styles

Ongoing TV shows often develop their own esoteric writing styles, which you notice in scene description.

Observations on the evolution of screenwriting based upon reading one script from 1974

For work this afternoon, I needed to read a screenplay written in the early 1970s. I think it’s the earliest-dated script I’ve read that wasn’t reprinted in a book.

More on Archer’s odd pre-laps

Comparing Archer’s actual script to my transcript-y approximation shows a little bit more about how Adam Reed’s show works.

Archer’s semi-pre-laps

Archer does a strange thing I haven’t seen in many shows: the final line of a scene often serves as the first line of the next scene.

His, hers and ours

A new browser extension points out an interesting and esoteric problem in English: “her” functions as both an objective pronounce and a possessive one.

Pronunciation jokes

Pronunciation jokes have a tendency to feel cheap and hoary. But when they work, they work — and it’s easy enough to show them on the page.

Writing fight scenes

In a screenplay, you’re not going to write every punch. Rather, you need to get specific about what makes this fight unique to this moment and this movie.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach on craft

The Tiny Protagonist has a good interview with Javier Grillo-Marxuach (a writer/producer on LOST and many other shows), talking about how he got started and the craft of television.

Formatting an interview montage

If you’re staying in one location — or a series of similar locations — you don’t need individual sluglines.

Write the way you speak

College was the first time I started writing how I speak. Or, more accurately, college was when I stopped trying to write the way I thought I should write.

Can my script be as short as Somewhere?

As a screenwriter, with no aspirations of getting behind the camera, how hard is it, or would it be to sell a spec script, that could possibly be a 100-110 min movie, but only a 65-70 page script? Understanding that execution is key, is it even possible to get your screenplay looked at, with it being so short?

Fucking pilots

I’m reading more network pilot scripts this year than in years past, so I can’t say whether this is a new trend or just something I was unaware of: What’s with all the swearing?

Never can say goodbye

Movie characters hang up the phone earlier than actual people would.

Pardon the interruption

You have several choices for situations in which one character interrupts another.

What you see vs. what you say

Eric Heisserer offers a good example of why you need to make sure to read dialogue aloud.

We love our pastor’s wives

A helpful tutorial on apostrophes.