John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.
Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.
John: And this is Episode 279 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters. Today on the podcast, we will be looking at how characters tell us what they’re after, either with or without a song. We’ll also be answering listener questions about how much despair to feel when a movie similar to your spec is announced. How to get started off an improv group. And whether Craig and I are wrong about gurus.
Craig: Yeah, there’s a huge question there. [laughs]
John: There’s a giant question mark at the end of that, because it’s possible that we’re wrong about everything.
Craig: Absolutely. Absolutely.
John: One of our listeners wrote in with a question saying like, “These other guys, they think you’re wrong.”
John: And we’ll give you the answer at the end of the episode.
Craig: Oh my god, good. I was hungry.
John: Yeah. [laughs] First off, though, we have a correction. In last week’s episode I misspoke. I said stop trying to make ___ happen was from Clueless. I was completely wrong. That’s from Mean Girls.
Craig: Oh. Well, you know, but Mean Girls is from Clueless. They are on a line. They’re on a continuum. So, I think you are all right.
John: They are on a continuum. I think you would not have Mean Girls without Clueless, but it is its own movie, and it’s wonderful in its own right. So, people wrote in with that correction and I don’t want to put false things out into this world.
Craig: Yeah. Because, you know, everybody else is putting out real things. All other websites and podcasts promulgate accurate information.
John: Yeah. We’re trying to be an accurate podcast. So, I want to make that correction. We also had a follow up from a listener. Andy [Keir] in Brooklyn who wrote in, “Thank you, John, for recommending The Good Place as your One Cool Thing. It is beyond cool. Binged it in a couple of days and I love it. It was slightly awkward to notice that on that show, which is brilliantly written, it contained two of the clams which you prescribed earlier in the same episode, which are ‘Wait, what?’ and ‘Good talk.’ I’m not saying you are wrong in any way – I would never – it was just a fun bit of cognitive dissonance. Neither of the clams took me out of the show, it’s just too good, which goes to show you if you’re really good you can get away with it. The rest of us should listen to you guys.”
So. I got to say, The Good Place, got clams in there.
Craig: Everybody has a clam. Everybody has a clam somewhere. They’re not something that you have to completely prescribe. I mean, there are a few that I think signify a total lack of effort or care creativity. If you’re saying, “She’s like the blankety blank from hell,” you’re advertising that you suck. But some of them are, you know, in what we’ll call early clam stage. You know, I mean, there’s grown clams, the big gnarly ones with the barnacles on them. And then there’s these baby clams. So, ‘wait what?’ and ‘good talk’ are probably still in the baby clam area. And they’re not toxic to anything.
You know, this is what happens. Sometimes you and I, we do these things, and we forget that people take us very, very seriously. And then they start thinking, oh my god, I have to take this out of script. You know, take it as advice. It’s just advice.
John: Yes. So, right before we went to record, I got an email from a showrunner who copied in a long thread of exchanges that happened within his writing staff. Basically he had listened to the episode and passed along to his writing staff like, hey, let’s take a look at this. And there was a considerable discussion.
So, I have not cleared with him whether we are allowed to discuss his discussion. But I thought it was fascinating that a genuine bona fide show that is on the air right now had a discussion about this clam list based on our episode. So, it’s a thing that’s out there. And we weren’t the people who came up with this list. We were just passing it along. So, I would go back to this idea that it’s not – the two clams that he mentions here in The Good Place, those are relatively fresh clams. They haven’t been lying on the beach for a long time. They don’t smell. They’re not brand new, but they’re not horrible things in there.
What you were suggesting about sort of the ‘blankety blank from hell,’ that was such a horrible one that it was not even on the list that we read aloud.
Craig: Cause that’s not even a clam anymore. It’s decomposed into some sort of goo.
John: Yeah. They grind it up and they use the shells to repave Martha Stewart’s driveway.
Craig: That’s right. And then whatever protein was left goes into some sort of slurry for pet food.
John: Yeah. It’s really good. Or, the seagulls have just picked it apart, and you don’t want that. If the seagulls are all involved with your joke, it’s a bad joke.
Craig: So, the writers that were discussing the clam list, without going into their specifics, where there a few of them that they were defending as maybe not so clammy or–?
John: There were a few that I think were being defended, but it was more the idea of whether the list was a good idea or not a good idea. Whether it was calling out a list of things not to do was a helpful or an unhelpful practice.
Craig: That’s interesting. I mean, look, a lot of times when we talk about things, we are doing a little bit of what Penn & Teller used to do back in the day. So, Penn & Teller, like all magicians, subscribe to a magician’s code, which is to not give away the secrets to tricks. But then there are some tricks that are so clammy they’re like, screw it, we’re going to give it away.
I remember I went to go see Penn & Teller when I was a kid and they did a trick with cups and balls and moving them around. And it was impressive. And then they said, okay, but the thing is the magic part is – obviously it’s a gimmick, right? But the skill is actually in the manipulation. You are not as impressed as you should be, so we’re now going to redo this trick with clear cups, so you can see what we’re doing. And you will be more impressed. And I was. Because there’s a remarkable amount of dexterity. But they’re whole thing there was, you know what, this trick is a clam. We’re going to give it away.
And I’m okay with that. I don’t think we should ever feel like, just philosophically speaking, you and I, as we sometimes pull the curtain aside and reveal some of the tricks of the trade. You know, it’s okay. If they are clammy, you know, what are we really – I mean, I’m not sure what the argument is for not exposing these things as goofy.
John: Yeah. And the other thing which came up in this thread, which I think is a good thing worth pointing out, and sort of highlighting for our readers is there are some things that become kind of a meta clam, where they’re not funny anymore, but by repeating them they kind of become funny again. Or they inform a character who thinks that that is funny. So, a great example is on the American version of The Office, “That’s what she said.”
John: It’s not actually funny, but Michael Scott thinks it’s so funny is part of the joke behind it. And so, you know, there can be reasons why you’re deliberating using one of these things so you know it’s not in itself funny because in a broader context the characters who think it’s funny makes it hilarious.
Craig: That’s absolutely true. I would think the audience understands the difference. Even if they intellectually aren’t quite parsing it out so specifically the way a writer would, they clearly do get it. Everybody knows what’s going on when people on The Office say, “That’s what she said.” Everybody knows that.
I mean, look, think about – when Homer started going, “D’oh,” that was him making fun of goofy sitcoms, where people go, “D’oh.” They were making fun of it. And now it’s his own thing. It’s part of his character and nobody really connects it back to a kind of, well frankly, demeaning swipe at very clunky, poorly drawn characters that had come before him.
John: It’s interesting. D’oh I think is a great example because it’s great when Homer says it, but if you have any other character saying it in a Homer Simpson way, it doesn’t really work. But I’ve seen it used increasingly as like a parenthetical, or as a way to express the feeling of D’oh without actually having the character say, “D’oh.” It’s that sudden realization that you’ve made a fool of yourself is well expressed by D’oh, even if you’re not having a character say it.
So, I’ve seen it in scene descriptions, even though I don’t see characters saying it who aren’t Homer Simpson.
Craig: Yeah. I think the official – I wish that our friend Matt was here. The official term that they use in their screenplays is something like “disappointed grunt.” They don’t actually write D’oh in Simpsons’ episodes.
John: Yeah. And a good lesson if you’re writing animation in general is there’s a tendency to write parentheticals for all those things that are said aloud. Basically because you’re recording lines, any sort of sound that a character makes you have to write a parenthetical for them to do that, so you actually get the sound recorded. And so you will see in animation scripts sometimes a bunch of characters talking who don’t actually have dialogue. They just have parentheticals for the sounds that they’re making.
Craig: That’s kind of cool. Yeah, efforts, right? I guess it all falls under efforts. Yeah.
Craig: I like that.
John: Our final bit of follow up is Weekend Read, which is the app my company makes for reading screenplays on your iPhone. Every year about this time we start putting up the For Your Consideration scripts. So, there are a bunch of them that are out there right now for big studio features and little independent features, all vying for Best Screenplay awards.
So, we have a new category inside the app for all those scripts. So, if you’re curious to read those scripts and would like to read them on your phone, just download Weekend Read. It’s in the app store. It’s a free download. And you can start reading the screenplays that are going to be up for awards this season.
Craig: That’s spectacular. First, I mean, I have to watch the movies, too, don’t I?
John: It’s probably a good idea to watch the movies. I think your best bet is to watch the movies and the movies that you think are really good, read those screenplays. If you don’t think the movie is good, I say don’t read the screenplay.
Craig: Great point. Great point. I don’t know what to do.
John: You don’t read screenplays.
Craig: You know what? I’m being honest with you. I get the screeners and there’s one person in my house who is thrilled, every year, and it’s the wife. And some of these movies I’ve never even heard of. Oh god, I’m out of it. I’m out of it, man.
John: So, Mike keeps a spreadsheet, because we’re a spreadsheet family, of all the screeners that come in. And because they’re coming to Los Angeles, Godwin is logging them as they come in. And then every couple weeks he sends a package of all the screeners. So, we have a bunch of screeners here now. I have not watched one of them. I’m trying to watch as many movies in the theater as I possibly can because it’s the best place to see them, and it’s also fun to see them with French subtitles. So, like I’m seeing Arrival this weekend, which is finally coming out in Paris. So I’m excited.
Craig: What is the French word for Arrival?
John: It is Premier Contact.
Craig: Oh, First Contact. Wait a second, they’ve already made that movie.
John: I know. It’s crazy. So, there was a Star Trek movie, but that wasn’t called that here I guess.
Craig: And then there was Contact. There were two movies.
Craig: And Contact is very, very similar – oh, French. You know that the French title for Hangover is A Very Bad Trip?
John: I do know that. And Another Very Bad Trip is the sequel.
Craig: Another Very Bad Trip. And that’s not translated from the French. They kept the title in English. They just made it A Very Bad Trip. [laughs] Well, I understand on some level the word hangover is idiomatic to English. There must be a French word for Hangover? Why didn’t they use that word? Maybe another movie had used it?
John: A lot of times it’s just because there’s a better term for the French market. This is actually a great segue into what we’re talking about today, because this last week I went and saw Vaiana and you’re like well what the hell is Vaiana? Well, Vaiana is Moana in places that are not the US and some other markets.
Craig: Do you know why?
John: I do know why. So, a couple of different reasons. So, first off, in Italy Moana is a famous porn star. So they couldn’t call the movie Moana there.
Craig: So cool.
John: In other parts of the world, Disney couldn’t clear trademark on Moana, so they had to use Vaiana. So, I saw this on posters and clearly it was the same movie. And so I assumed that when I watched the movie, because I watched the movie in English with French subtitles, I assumed that they would actually say Moana but then they would say Vaiana in the subtitles. But, no, they actually recorded the entire movie, every line of dialogue, every lyric, where they say Moana they say Vaiana in the version I saw.
And so in France and other markets where it’s released in English, but not in America or certain other markets, it’s Vaiana. And they sing it. 100% Vaiana when you see it in France or other markets.
Craig: I could see that. I mean, Disney, they’re kind of completionists. You know, they’re not going to let you sit in an Italian movie theater, and even though the movie is called Vaiana hear songs referring to their famous porn star.
John: Yeah. But I really liked the movie. And so this is where I have to do a full disclosure here. I have a consulting agreement with Disney animation, but I did not work on this movie at all. So this movie was a complete, you know, I had not seen a single frame of this movie. So I sat down and watched it and was surprised and delighted by how much I really enjoyed it.
And particularly I really liked how the I Want song works in this. So I thought this could be a topic for us to discuss is how characters tell us what they want. And there’s a way to do it in Disney movies, especially animation movies, that’s so literal but we also have to be able to figure out how to express what characters want in movies where they don’t have their own big number to express it.
Craig: It’s such a big topic because whether you’re writing a script or you’ve written a script and you’re now dealing with other people, producers, or anyone, what your character wants is the easiest, quickest, slam-dunk note you’re going to get if it’s not clear. That’s the one that they’ll just – that’s their right hook.
So, even though you and I try to not be prescriptive about things and rule-based, this is about as ruley as it gets. Your character must want something and we must know what it is.
John: Yeah. And so let’s talk about what that want is, and distinguish it from other wants. Because characters are going to have wants in every scene. They’re going to have motivations for what they’re trying to do next, what they’re trying to get out of this sequence, what their sort of goals are, their objectives. But what we’re talking about with want is sort of this big kind of metaphysical want. It’s like what they woke up with in the morning saying like, “This is the vision I have for my life. What is the positive outcome I sort of see for my life?”
And sometimes they won’t have full introspection. They won’t quite know what it was. They couldn’t articulate it to another character. But deep down inside there it’s there and we should be able to see it as an audience. That if the movie succeeds, they will be changed and they will get this thing that they were after. And that’s also kind of a crucial distinction between how movies work and how TV series work. Is that in a movie our expectation of an audience is we’re going to see that character get what they’re after at the end, or fail to get what they’re after.
In a TV series, that arc, that journey, is not meant to be completed. Not in the course of one episode. Or even the course of the whole series necessarily. They’re constantly on that journey towards that thing, but they’re not going to get there.
Craig: That’s right. Think about the opening narration to Star Trek. That’s sort of saying we have a general want, to seek out new life and go to new civilizations and boldly go where no man has gone before. Okay. I mean, I screwed that up, so sorry Trekkers, but the point is we want to explore. We want to explore the unknown. That’s what we want. But that’s vague and general. And vague and general is good, because every episode they need to discover some new challenge and overcome it. And have it end. And then a new one begins.
That’s not at all how movies work. That’s not how self-contained narratives work. There is a specific want to a specific character. And when you have the opportunity to express that through song, as musicals do, whether they’re stage musicals or film – and film musicals almost always now means animated – the character is able to sing what’s in their mind. They don’t need to have somebody else there. And in a way where a character onscreen would be a lunatic if they just started monologue-ing to nobody about what they wanted for three minutes, in a musical a character can sing it. And because they’re singing their internal voice, they can be – they don’t have to worry about subtext either. They can be on the nose.
And so you have these great songs like Part of Your World, when we did our Little Mermaid exploration. It’s harder to find a better and more specific I Want song than that.
John: Yeah. And you’ll notice these I Want songs, they almost always have the words I Want in them, or I Wish, or I Dream, or If Only I Could. And Part of Your World kind of does all of those things. It’s her vision of I wish I could be part of your world, up there where you can do all those things. She’s imagining her life in this other place, this better place, if only.
And so almost always this is the second song in the musical, we should say. The first song in one of these musicals tends to be this is the nature of the world, this is how the world currently functions. The second song is almost always the protagonist singing the I Want song. This is my vision for what’s going to happen next.
Craig: Yeah. A couple other examples from Broadway that are really clear. Wouldn’t it be Loverly, from My Fair Lady. All I want is a room somewhere far away from the cold night air. And then Corner of the Sky from Pippin. I want to be where my spirit can run free.
Craig: Got to find my corner of the sky. So, people will just say I want stuff. Now, sometimes the songs that people sing are about things they think they want, but they’re not really what they do want. And that’s part of what the show is instructing. Like, Fiddler on the Roof, the second song right there is Tevye sings If I Were a Rich Man, and it’s all about wanting to be rich. But that’s not really what he wants.
Craig: But that’s part of the point of that show.
John: So, let’s take a listen to the song from Moana. It’s just her I Want song. It’s called How Far I’ll Go. It’s written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who did Hamilton, and Mark Mancina. So, let’s take a listen to three verses here and track sort of what she’s saying about where she sees herself and where she’s going. So let’s take a listen.
I’ve been staring at the edge of the water ‘Long as I can remember, never really knowing why I wish I could be the perfect daughter But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try
Every turn I take, every trail I track Every path I make, every road leads back To the place I know, where I cannot go Where I long to be
See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me And no one knows, how far it goes If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me One day I’ll know, if I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go
John: So Craig. You have not seen the movie, but you’ve only listened to this song, and you were able to just sing it back to me just now. So, it stuck–
Craig: That’s right.
John: In your head to some degree.
Craig: Yeah. Lin-Manuel Miranda has some meager skill with this sort of thing. [laughs] So, the melody matches the vibe of the words beautifully. These things pair up when everything is working right and they complement each other. And so the melody kind of takes off as she takes off on what is very common in an I Want song, a flight of fancy.
So, you might think if you said to a child, “Talk about something you don’t have that you want,” it could come out whiney. I want this. I want it. And I don’t have it, and I want it. But, typically with these things, people begin to imagine having the thing they want. And you see them light up.
And inside of that is a promise for the movie. Therefore, we understand if they get it, they will be happier. Not just satisfied or not just making something go away. It’s not that whiney, greedy want. It’s this deeper spiritual aching. And we get to see the positive side, the as if.
And so you start typically with a contrast. This is what I don’t have. Dear God, you’ve made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, there’s no shame in being poor, but there’s no great honor either. And you start with the bummer. I’ve been standing on the edge of the water, long as I can remember, never really knowing why. I wish I could be the perfect daughter, but I come back to the water no matter how hard I try. Ugh, sucks.
Then, ooh, but if I were to have it. If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me, one day I’ll know. If I go, there’s just no telling how far I’ll go. That’s just the promise of this brave new day.
Craig: And it’s played in contrast to what she has now.
John: Yeah. So when you see the movie, or when you watch the screener with your wife, you will see that the song actually repeats twice. And so there’s a recall, a reprise of the song is very classically sort of a – the character has been on the journey. They’ve crossed their first trial and they sing a new version of the song. It’s really good.
This song actually reprises twice. And the last reprise, I thought, was actually fantastic in that it really plays on this idea of call. So, classically in a heroic story you have the call to adventure. In Moana, this is the water, you know, the sort of magical seashell she finds at the water, sort of coming to her when she was a baby. They do a great job sort of paying off the call at the end and her realization that the call wasn’t from out there, that the call was inside her. And it’s a really, really well done emotional amount, both how it’s animated and how it’s structured as a song.
So, this was I think just a slam dunk of an I Want song.
But we should talk about all those other movies that aren’t musicals that don’t get to have an I Want song, and how you can have the same effect, or at least some of the same thoughts behind an I Want song, even if the characters can’t sing their most innermost thoughts.
Craig: Yeah. So, now we get to the tricky part, right? You and I when we’re writing things that aren’t musical aren’t allowed to have our characters sing. We still, however, need to communicate this to the audience. So, there are some, well, I guess in keeping with our theme of revealing tricks and clear cups with the little balls in them, these are tricks. They’re tricks, but they work. For starters, the simplest one is to show someone longing visually. If you want to be, let’s say you want to be a great bicyclist, and I see you and you’re on a bike and you’re struggling. I don’t know anything about you yet. Just that you’re struggling on your bike and you’re going up this hill. And you’re sweating. And it’s hard. And you can barely make it. And, finally, you have to get off and walk the rest of the way. But when you get to the top of the hill, I see that you’re watching the Tour de France, and you’re seeing these great, great bicyclists go by. And in your eyes there’s just this longing. I know what you want now.
I know it as much as I would have from any song. I know why you don’t have it, and I know what you want.
John: Yeah. Those visuals where like the character doesn’t have to say something, but you sort of see them doing the action is fantastic. It’s weird, before you brought up the bicycle example, I was thinking of the kid who is leaning across the handlebars of his bike, watching the thing go by. That’s a very classic kind of image that we’ve seen. We saw it in the Star Trek movie, we’ve seen it in Star Wars as well.
You also see kids imitating the thing that they want to be, even though they don’t have the tools. And so they see the great violinist and they’re trying to play violin with two sticks. That’s that sense of this is a vision they see for themselves. And you’re establishing really early on who they think they could be, if only.
John: So that’s certainly a goal.
Craig: Yeah. Sometimes in comedies you’ll see characters, when you meet a character you meet them as the person they want to be. And then you realize that they’re pretending. Very common, frankly somewhat clammy way of meeting a character in a comedy.
Now, there is a helpful thing that we have that typically I Want musicals don’t have. Because the I Want musical is about the internal voice, it’s very rare for someone to sing it with someone else. Or even in the presence of somebody else. It’s almost always, you know, Ariel drifts off to her little cave of stuff and sings by herself. And Tevye is singing alone with his broken down horse. And Moana is singing alone on the beach.
Well, we have other people. And sometimes the best way to find out what our main character wants is for another character to figure it out for us. Or, for them to already know and say it. A very stark example of this is The Matrix. So, we meet Keanu Reeves, Mr. Anderson, and he’s somewhat troubled, but we’re not sure why, nor do we know what he wants. But then he is contacted by this mysterious woman, Morpheus, and then also Trinity. And she literally says, “I know what you want. You want the answer to the question, what is the Matrix.” And he says, “What is the matrix?” And I’m sitting there going, what? What is the matrix? I don’t know what the matrix is. Why do you want to know what the matrix is? Who is that? What’s happening?
These are good mysteries that will be solved, going back to our mystery versus confusion. But here’s one thing that for sure I now know that is not a mystery: that guy wants to know what the matrix is. And I know it, because somebody else said it.
John: Yeah. There’s another version of this which is the time traveling version of that character comes back and sort of tells him what it is you want. Basically a character who clearly can identify with this kid’s situation says like, listen, this is what you need to do next. Really it’s conflating sort of the call to adventure with the wish, basically saying the person who shows up to say to get the story started is the person who says like this is what you want, even though you don’t even know you want it yet.
Craig: Exactly. Exactly. And we get all this extra yummy juice out of that because we get to see our characters react. Sometimes they react like Mr. Anderson does where he just says, “Yep, you got me. That’s what I want.” Sometimes they deny it. In fact, sometimes that’s the most interesting way to reveal what a character wants is to see them say no. Somebody makes them an offer of some kind. And this is – I guess the Campbellians will call this Refusal of the Call. Refusal of the call is little different. Refusal of the call typically is will you do the following things required to maybe get what you want. And they say, no.
This is, do you want this? No. No. But we see that they do. So, that’s an interesting way, and a very, I think, real way to start to see a little bit of an insight into somebody by playing them opposite.
John: The other form of kind of negation to make it clear what your characters actually want is when they are offered something that any normal character should want. And so an example, the pilot for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, she’s offered a partnership at the firm. This is what she should want. She is a lawyer. She should want this. And she doesn’t want it. And she’s wrestling with herself of why don’t I want this. And that’s the moment where we break out into, again, it’s a musical, so she gets to sing her I Wish song. But even if there hadn’t been a musical, her turning this down is a way of framing what she wants. It’s a scenario in which she has a chance to explain what she actually wants. So, you’re creating a place in which it’s okay to speak things you would not otherwise say.
Craig: Right. So here we find out what somebody wants by hearing what they don’t want. And that’s closely related to something I call wanting by subtraction, where instead of showing what somebody wants, we show what they lack. So, there is a – if there’s a Broadway version called I Want, there’s a movie version called I Used to Have, or I’m Missing, or I Don’t Have. And it’s a slightly different vibe. But characters will reveal what they miss.
So, let’s go to our clam-o-vision here. We meet a guy and he seems bummed out and he goes home. And he looks at a picture of his dead wife and starts drinking. Lethal Weapon. It was awesome in Lethal Weapon actually. It was amazing back before it clammed up. But we see it’s not so much that they want something specifically. It’s that they – something has been taken from them. And that is a version of a want. It’s a wanting to go back, essentially.
Which is a psychologically involved one. I like that one.
John: Absolutely. So, in any of these wants, it’s important to remember that you are establishing a contract with the audience. So, when you make it clear that the character wants this thing, your function is to get them that thing, but to make it very difficult for them to get that thing.
And so a lot of times we get those studio notes saying like, “I don’t know what the character wants.” It’s that they thought they understood what the character wanted, and then they kept looking for the character trying to do that thing or get that thing, and they weren’t doing that thing, and then the studio got confused. And so being really clear about what your character wants is step one. But step two is actually making sure that the movie tracks towards them trying to get that thing that they want.
It doesn’t mean that every scene has to be on point for how are they moving forward to the next thing, but the overall flow of things has to be directed towards that overall want that you’ve established at the start of the story.
Craig: It is, I think, a very good philosophical, fundamental approach to say that when you are writing a movie, the most important thing is the character. And it’s hard for a lot of people, because the plot is the candy coating. And we get that medicine very subtly sometimes as we watch movies. And so when we sit down to write them for the first time, we’re writing candy coating. But, if you do that, then what you describe is going to happen. Your character will announce something they want and then shut up about it until the end when they go, “Wait, I want a thing. I have it now.” That’s not – you have to keep the character’s want prime in your mind. That, as you said, doesn’t mean it’s constantly being addressed, but essentially the plot that you’re building around your character is aware of that.
John: It’s as if the want is its own character, and you have to keep that character alive throughout the course of the story.
John: We talk about keeping characters alive in that if a character hasn’t shown up for a long time, you sort of forget they exist. And you have to figure out scenes where that character can be in that scene, or else that character just doesn’t exist in your world anymore. It’s the same thing with the want. You have to find a way to bring it up again, to make it clear that it’s still in play. And so it can be directly addressing it, like, you know, the horrible clammy version is like, “Hey, didn’t you always want to do this?” Or, like, you know, “Oh, you’ll never do this thing.”
If it’s really clearly tied into the plot, where like the kid wants to be the karate champion, well that’s obviously going to be there. Except that you have to make sure that you’re not mistaking plot for this inner motivation, this inner drive. How the character sees themselves.
Because, you know, I try to distinguish between a goal, which is like I want to get this karate championship to the real wish which is like I want to prove that I am worthy of my father’s love or attention. That’s the thing you’re going to want to make sure you’re constantly tracking throughout the story, and finding those scenes which you can check in and sort of show these are the milestones we passed along that journey.
Craig: Exactly. See, goal versus want is a really important concept for people. A goal is a thing you can do. A want is something inside of you. It is a desire. One is action and one is psychological. In fact, I think the best wants are the ones that are disconnected from plot, meaning it’s not that they’re not related to the plot. They’re very related. The plot is there to ultimately get you to a place where you finally get what you want. But the nature of the want is not the same as the nature of the plot.
What Danny wants in The Karate Kid, ultimately, is to be worthy of respect. To grow up. To be a young man and stand on his own. His goal is kick a bunch of guys, right? Those are two different things. They’re disconnected. And I think the best – what is Luke Skywalker’s goal? Well, in the end of the movie his goal is shoot thing down hole. What is his want? His want is, well, sounds familiar, grow up. Stand on his own two feet. Be his own man.
So, that disconnection I think is vital to helping bridge the gap between the extraordinary actions that we see onscreen that are probably quite foreign to our own experience, and then our empathy for the people involved.
John: Yeah, it’s their wants that make them relatable. Because everybody watching the movie won’t be blowing up the Death Star, but everybody watching the movie has wanted to prove themselves worthy. Let’s take a look at what are some good wants then. So, what are characteristics of good wants for your protagonist to have?
Craig: Well, for starters, I think they need to be simple. And I think they need to be honest. There is no need to be tricky or clever about wants. I think plots often do well when they’re tricky and clever and twisty and surprising and intellectual. But wants are basic. It’s best if they aren’t so basic as to feel kind of elementary and easily solvable, but then again, you know, “stand on your feet/grow up” is incredibly basic and can be teased out in so many different ways.
So, for starters, I think, honest and simple.
John: Great. I would also say look for wants that can be looked at from multiple perspectives. Because whatever your protagonist wants, you’re going to have other characters in the movie and they’re going to want things, too. And it would be fantastic if the other characters in your movie have wants that can reflect aspects of that want. So, look at who the love interest is. Look at who the villain is. Look at ways in which the other characters in your story can reflect the broken, the damaged, the alternate versions of those wants, so that, you know, not only so that thematically everything can sort of tie into like one bigger question, but also so that you have a good reason to bring up those wants along the way, that you can see emotionally that characters are having similar journeys. And there’s ways to sort of explore how they’re impacting each other.
Craig: Yeah. I mean, when you look at the case of Lethal Weapon, Mel Gibson lives alone in a trailer by the sea, mourning his dead wife, suicidal. And his new partner lives in suburbia with his wife of many, many years, and his two children. And so the Murtaughs’ existence is kind of designed to reflect this deeper aching loss/want for Riggs. It makes their relationship interesting.
So, this is an area where you say, okay, if my character wants this, let’s provide him with somebody that has relevance to what they want.
Craig: So if I’m this farmer who dreams of flying, you know, in space and being on my own, then pair me with a guy that basically knows everything and is telling me, “Nah, calm down. Slow down, kid.” In this sense, part of what I look for in a want is something that’s psychologically challenging for the hero to achieve. It has to be achievable, but it needs to be difficult to actually get.
If we feel like they could just get what they want fairly easily, we’re going to be wondering why the movie is struggling so hard to make it hard.
John: Yeah. There’s three words which are sort of the bane of every one of these kind of situations. “Comes to realize.” You’ll hear this in a pitch where two-thirds of the way through the movie, or near the end of the movie the hero comes to realize that he actually had it all this time. Or basically like, you know, the change that happens in the hero is basically like the character going like, “Oh, yeah, uh-huh. Great. I guess I don’t need that thing. Or I guess having a family is really important.” Something that is so obvious that the character could have just like stopped to think about it for a while early in the story and like, oh, it would have been done.
It has to be a real journey to get there. And they could not have done it at the start. The plot that you’re creating for them to go through has to be able to service this journey that gets them to where they need to end up.
Craig: Service is a great word. And I would also use the word instruct. Right, because if you end up in that horrific place of comes to realize, then you think, “Oh, okay, you wanted something. You weren’t sure how to get it.” Then a story happened. You finished the story. And then you went, “Okay, now back to – oh…”
No. The point of the story is to get them to that place. The point of the story is to demonstrate to them through the people that they meet and the situations that they’re in that what they want is achievable like this. Or, as is often the case, what they wanted was wrong. And what they really need to want is this. And you’ll see that in – a lot of Pixar movies work that way. Finding Nemo, for instance.
John: Absolutely. When it’s done right, it’s never simplified down to “comes to realize.” It’s that process of recognizing that what they wanted is not what they should have really been going for. That doesn’t just happen – they don’t just pivot on a dime there. It’s the ongoing journey that did it. It wasn’t like they got to one place and it was a sudden plot reveal, a twist, like, “Oh, I don’t really want that thing anymore.” That’s when the audience goes crazy on you, deservedly, because it wasn’t earned.
Craig: It wasn’t earned. Exactly. I guess the other huge mistake you can make is to give your character a want that is so specific that it really won’t be relevant to everyone. And you might think, well, it’s hard to be relevant to everyone. Not really. Not really. Most things that people want, most unfulfilled desires, if they are the kinds that we respect, are things we all want. Some of us have them, but we wanted them. We all want love. We all want to belong. We all want to believe in ourselves. We all want to be brave. All of these things – and grow up – we all – they’re universal.
And this is why sometimes the best way to think about what your character wants is to imagine them as a child, because most of what we want we’ve always wanted, from the start. And thinking about it from a childlike point of view keeps you out of the tricky clever zone and gets you into the honest, true, and simple zone.
John: I agree. Great. So, if all else fails, I would say add some songs. Because songs will do the work for you.
Craig: [laughs] They will.
John: Get Lin-Manuel Miranda in there to write you a song. It’s all done. It’s all set.
Craig: Throw a little Lin at it.
John: Let’s answer some listener questions. So, Patrick writes in. he says, “I’m a 27-year-old retail worker who has written four screenplays over the last nine years. One of the screenplays I’ve written has a specific untapped subject matter. Earlier today, it was announced that a rather prolific comedic actor is attached to star in a movie about that exact subject. This isn’t an email about what I can do from a legal standpoint or professional standpoint. I just want to ask you how I should feel personally. Have either of you spent years working on a project, only to find out that a similar idea was happening elsewhere in the industry? Should I be upset? Is heartbreak reasonable? Should I feel hopeful that a movie about a subject I’m passionate about could possibly get made?”
Craig, how should Patrick feel?
Craig: This is the air we breathe, sir. There is no such thing as something that doesn’t have a competing version. Everything that you’re working on, everything – if you are writing the story of your own mom, I guarantee you someone else out there is writing a your mom movie. It’s just the way it goes.
So, of course, you should feel upset. Why wouldn’t you? And, yes, heartbreak is a reasonable feeling. Any feeling is reasonable, meaning no feelings are reasonable. That’s why they’re called feelings. It’s just a feeling. So you have the feeling. Okay. But, yes, you should be hopeful, not because someone is making a movie about a subject you’re passionate about. That doesn’t necessarily validate you as a writer, you know, or anything really. I mean, lots of people look at things and go, “We’re all interested in that.”
You should be hopeful because more than one movie comes out about things. I don’t know of any one thing that has gotten one movie and then everyone else said, “Nope.” In fact, quite the opposite. Usually when movies are successful, people start hunting around for versions of it.
So, I would not be depressed about this, Patrick. And I also would say, as we’ve said many times on the show, that your screenplay as a 27-year-old guy, your screenplay is most valuable to you as an advertisement of your ability. It is less valuable as a specific piece of material to be exploited into a film. And that, no one can take away.
John: The other thing I would focus on is that remember that an idea is just an idea. And it’s the unique expression of an idea that gives something its value. And so, yes, this comedic actor is making a movie about whatever, but your script about that same topic may be fantastic, because it’s going to have your unique voice.
And so there are many movies about dancing and dancing competitions, but they’re each unique and they’re each specific to their own story. And that’s what’s going to be special about your movie. So, I would certainly not give up hope. Your script probably has a little bit more value today than it did yesterday, because it’s out there in the world. Like, someone is making a movie about this kind of topic, so people might read it because it seems like a topic for a movie. So, I would not despair too much.
It’s okay to feel a little hit. And I was hit personally. I’ve definitely been through situations where like clearly, well, if that movie is going to be made, then my movie is not getting made. And I had all this psychological energy pent up in my one movie that’s no longer going to exist. There’s a reason for that grief. That’s fine. It’s acceptable.
But I think you’re jumping the gun here on assuming that this other movie is going to preclude your movie from getting made.
Craig: Or even get made. That’s the other thing. This other movie, you’re saying that a prolific comedic actor is attached to star in a movie. Uh…
John: What percentage of attachments do you think result in a movie? Maybe 10 percent?
Craig: Maybe. I mean, attached doesn’t mean a damn thing, just so you know.
John: So, just this last week there’s an actor who I genuinely like. He’s a really good actor, he’s just never become a big star. But on Deadline it was announced, oh, he’s attached to this movie. I’m like, really? That’s a Deadline-worthy story? Because he’s in four movies last year that no one ever heard of.
And so it’s so weird when an actor being attached is actually news. And in some cases like writers get attached to things. I’m like, really? I know for a fact that they’re never going to write that, but it comes out as being news.
John: Patrick happened to notice this one thing happened and it caught his eye, but if he hadn’t noticed that story would he have felt any different about his script? No.
Craig: Yeah. Just so you know, for those of you who don’t know, the word “attached” in our business means that an actor said, “I’m interested in playing that part. So you agree and I agree that if this movie is going ahead, I’m playing the part.” Now, what happens is they take that actor’s attachment and use it as leverage to try and get financing or a green light from a studio. And they might. And maybe they do and maybe they don’t. But even if they do, then they have to make a deal with the actor. And the actor has to be available. That is – half the time that’s what ends up unattaching that attachment. And then the whole thing falls apart.
So, don’t fret, Patrick. Prevail.
Jonathan from Los Angeles writes, “You have touched on getting staffed as a sitcom writer. It seems like studying performing at one of the local improv theaters, UCB, IO, Second City, is the most common method right now. On the other hand, you always hear about writers who started as writers’ assistants. And as you mentioned, everyone blazes their own path up the mountain, so there are countless other ways to get read and staffed. Which do you think is most fruitful?”
John: Yeah, so I’ve actually heard of this staffing out of improv groups happening a lot more now. I think it’s probably because of the kinds of shows that are getting made. It’s also because some of the shows are being created by folks who grew up through that business.
You know, I think any situation in which you can throw yourself in, where you’re writing and performing things with clever people, you’re more likely to get noticed, and that’s a great thing. I wouldn’t say that it’s the right path for somebody who is looking to do non-comedic stuff, for example.
Craig: Yeah, I agree. And it’s also not the right path for somebody who is a very funny writer, but not a particularly good performer. That said, if you can perform, I would absolutely go the improv route because you are essentially joining an alumni network.
Very famously the Simpsons drew from Harvard, from the Harvard Lampoon. This was very frustrating to me when I moved out here. I’m like, does Princeton count? No. I would see some of these people writing for the Simpsons, and I’m like, well, they’re not funny. I guess they went to Harvard. That’s worth something. Obviously most of the people writing for the Simpsons are brilliant.
But this is a similar situation where you have these feeder organizations where their alumni have gone onto create their shows, star in their own shows, develop their own shows, and they naturally will start, even if they don’t come and look back at specific shows themselves, they talk to the higher ups at those places. They employ the higher ups at those places to be on their shows, even if it’s for guest spots or something like that.
So, they’re going to hear. And I think that makes total sense. If you can be a writer-performer, yes. I would recommend it.
John: Here’s my other theory, is I think it may not be that they’re looking at this pool because it’s just convenient. I think they may be looking at this pool because this pool was actually genuinely good and talented and has actually proven that they can work really hard. So, think about being in one of these groups. If you’re starting out, you’re having to write and perform a bunch of stuff all the time, you are having to really make something new every week or every couple of weeks and really show your craft. It’s really clear sort of what you can do.
Plus, a lot of these groups have kind of hierarchies. You move from one company up to the next company, to the next company. You’ve put in the time, you’ve done the work. So if you are a writer who has graduated up through that system, they’re looking at you and saying like, okay, well this person has done a certain amount of stuff and they’re going to have a good collection of samples to look at. I think they’re just going to – they’re probably going to be pretty good writers.
So I think there’s a reason why they’re looking at this group, not just because they are from this background, but because being in this background, they’ve actually done a lot more work.
Craig: Yeah, precisely. There’s also a certain comic philosophy that emerges from these individual organizations. The Groundlings very much jibes with the comic philosophy of Saturday Night Live and not surprisingly they’ve fed a lot of their talent to Saturday Night Live. UCB jibes more with the kind of Amy Poehler world of comedy. So, you learn a philosophy as well, kind of a school of comedy, and that also makes you more suitable for those employers.
But, you know, let’s keep it all in perspective. There are not a lot of employers, there are not a lot of jobs. You have to be really, really good. Ultimately what we’re talking about is something that gets you successful six months earlier, maybe. But if you’re really, really good, you’re really, really good.
John: I agree. Last question is about people who are really, really good. Eric writes, “I wanted to ask your thoughts on the fact that your peers in the industry, who you both have mentioned with admiration on your podcast, have offered advice directly in opposition to your advice. While you two have approached screenwriting books and seminars with great skepticism, mega-writer Billy Ray has said, ‘I don’t think I’d be a writer if I hadn’t taken the Robert McKee class. My debt to him is huge.’ In a long form interview with Billy, he also repeatedly extolled McKee’s book’s story and its lessons.
“And while Craig has repeatedly addressed listener questions of what topics to write about with some form of ‘write what’s in your heart,’ Terry Rossio says in his Wordplay blog that it’s a waste of time to write scripts that don’t have ‘strange attractors in the premise if you want to get executives interested in you quickly and make a sale.’ Similar to Save the Cats’ advice on aiming for high concept.
“Since these two writers are on equal footing with you two as screenwriters, I just wondered what you thought of their advice to aspiring screenwriters that runs counter to yours. Perhaps they can appear on your podcast in the future to discuss and debate with you. I think that would be super useful.”
Craig: Well, let me start with Billy. So Billy says he, “I don’t think I’d be a writer if I hadn’t taken the Robert McKee class.” That is absolute bullshit. Billy is my friend. I know him well. First of all, Billy’s father was a legendary agent in the movie business, so it wasn’t like Billy was growing up in Omaha, pushing grocery store carts around, dreaming of the Hollywood nights.
Listen, all of these books – it’s not like you and I didn’t read them. I mean, I didn’t read Robert McKee. But I read Campbell and Vogler and Syd Field. You know, when you’re starting out there’s a correlation, but it’s not causation. Of course you’re going to start to read some books, because you want to be a screenwriter, and people are saying read screenwriting books. And you go, okay, I’ll read some screenwriting books.
By the way, there’s probably now a correlation of people starting to be screenwriters who listen to our podcast. That’s not causation. Robert McKee did not cause Billy Ray to be the writer that he is. That’s outrageous. If that were true, then Robert McKee would be writing Billy Ray movies right now. But he’s not. Billy Ray is because Billy is really good.
In fact, I’m seeing Billy Ray in a week. I’m going to say to his face that’s a bunch of bullshit. There is absolutely no – no way.
John: So, on Episode 255 of Scriptnotes, Billy Ray was the guest. Craig wasn’t there. And we talked about this. And so Billy Ray started quite young in the industry and he worked his butt off. And we all read books that were incredibly important to us, and were helpful in getting us thinking about how we were going to do this job of screenwriting. So, I don’t fault him for saying that Robert McKee was a huge influence to him, but like he would be a screenwriter regardless of Robert McKee.
Craig: Of course. Now, the Terry Rossio advice is slightly different. Because Terry’s column was written quite a few years ago. I suspect, just knowing, because I’ve known those guys, Ted and Terry, for a long time. I’m fairly certain that that article, I don’t know if there’s a date on it, the strange attractor thing, but I think it was written in the ‘90s. In fact, it was, 1997.
My friend, that’s 20-year-old advice. Right? Now, it seems, well, yeah, but is it still? No. It’s not relevant anymore. And we know this, because we see writers selling screenplays all the time that are not what we call high concept, big hooky things. That article was written in the era of the big spec sale. And, of course, Terry and Ted wrote a certain kind of movie as well and they had a lot of success with that. And at times I think it’s a tempting thing to want to generalize your success to everybody else and say, “Here’s what I did to be successful. You should do it, too.” Doesn’t quite work that way.
I don’t think the 1997 article here would explain something like the success that Kelly Marcel had with Saving Mr. Banks, which is not a strange attractor/high concept/big gimmick plot twist. Unless, look, you can also play the game of shoving everything into that box in which case, yeah, they all are. And then what you quickly get down to is don’t write a bad script. Write a good one. But I think it’s important to keep in mind that that article is 20 years old.
John: Yeah, so Terry started doing his Wordplay blog even before I was doing johnaugust.com. And he and I were both sort of people who were offering advice to aspiring screenwriters online. And I totally admire what he’s done and I think Terry has a certain philosophy, and he’s sort of staked out a lot of ground that was really helpful and I love it when he talks at Austin and other places. So, his opinion is not wrong, I just don’t share his opinion that a person should aim for high concept because that’s where the sales are. I don’t think aiming for a high concept sale is the best first goal for a screenwriter right now.
I think the best first goal for a screenwriter is to write something that’s so good that people want to hire you to do things. And the thing that is so good that people want to hire you to do things is going to be something that is uniquely yours, that expresses your unique voice.
Craig: Yeah. You know, in 1997 the business was highly oriented around the veracious consumption of original stuff to put onscreen, not necessarily creative original, but meaning new titles and new IP. And because of video and all the rest, they were releasing an enormous amount of movies. And you had to kind of stand out from the crowd by being something that people wanted to produce. Like, great, this is a great idea. That’s how I got started. You know, my writing partner and I came up with a big hooky/strange attractor concept. We had an actor and off we went. And made the movie.
But 20 years later, the studios are equally obsessed, but in the opposite direction, with generating movies based on not-fresh IP, existing IP. And so what they’re looking for are writers that they can assign to the material they want made. And that means – and Peter Dodd said as much. They’re not necessarily looking at specs as make this, they’re looking at specs as writing samples for their things. For their big things. So, I think that Terry was probably dead spot on when he wrote that, but I would be surprised if he didn’t at least acknowledge that now 20 years gone by the situation is a bit different.
John: I agree. So let’s do our One Cool Things. My One Cool Thing is an article in The Atlantic where John McWhorter, he’s the linguist we talked about on a previous episode, he traces the evolution of the word Like. And so the word Like is really fascinating. So, it starts from an old word that was related to the word body. It then got its sense of meaning similar. I didn’t know this, but you may have known this Craig, that the LY, the adverbial LY is actually Like. It’s just a shortened form of like.
Craig: I did not know that. But that makes so much sense.
John: Yeah, so like saintly, is saint-like. All those words, it’s just an adverbial form of the adjective, and that’s how it got there. Or, noun, so, that LY is a just a Like.
So, the way that we sort of use like now and we sort of hate the way use like now sometimes is really fascinating. So, there’s the way we use it to quote speech, and so she was like, and I was like, and so it’s quoting speech but not directly quoting speech. It’s useful for that. And I kind of can’t fault it for how we use it for that.
But McWhorter singles out two other ways we do it. There’s the way we use it to hesitate, we’re sort of using as a pause word. There’s also a way where we’re using it to mean like I know this doesn’t sound true, but it really is true. I opened the box and there were like 20 scorpions inside. And so that like is meant to sort of emphasize that I’m not saying as if there were 20 scorpions, there really were scorpions inside. I know it seems unbelievable, but that like is there to make clear that it really did happen.
So, anyway, it’s a fascinating article. McWhorter is always great at identifying sort of new trends and old words. So, I point you to this article.
Craig: Well, that’s fascinating. I did not know the LY thing. I like things like that. I like trotting things like that out at parties, mostly to bore people, but also because somebody somewhere is going to go, you know, I’ve heard this so many times. Someone will say, “You say stuff like you know it, but you’re just making it up.” Because it does sound like something you could just make up and say, but I believe it. I believe it.
Well, my One Cool Thing is fairly mundane. Let me ask you a question, John. Do you and Mike wake up at the same time each day or not?
John: We wake up at the same time almost every day, but that’s partly because our daughter has to go to school. So it’s when the alarm happens.
Craig: Got it. So, I take the late shift in the house and Melissa takes the early shift. So, she does the drive to school, I do the “Oh, you’re vomiting at midnight, or you have a fever, whatever.” And she goes to bed before our son does, so I also handle him at night.
So, we have two different alarms. And so it was really frustrating for a long time because what I would do is I would just leave a note like set the alarm for 8:30, you know, because she’s going to get up at 6:30. But I found this clock and it’s Brookstone. You know, Brookstone, they got a bad rep, you know, because it’s a lot of plastic, junky baloney gimmicky stuff in a mall. And massage chairs and baloney. Bu this clock, it’s the only one I’ve found that does this. So, I don’t know, maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough. But it’s a Bluetooth alarm clock with two alarm settings and you can control it with an app, as long as you’re within Bluetooth range.
So, when I get into bed, I open up my iPad, the screen on dim, and she’s got alarm one set to 6:30, and I go to alarm two and make it whatever I want. And it does it. And it’s great. You’d think other people would have that. No, anyway.
John: Craig, right now it’s my function to be the voice of everyone listening in their cars right now, Craig, alarm clocks have done that for forever. Like, literally our 20-year-old alarm clock–
Craig: No, no, no, I know they have two alarms. I’m saying, it’s dark. I walk into the room. She’s asleep, right, because I’m coming in at midnight. The room is dark. The alarm is by her bed. I got to turn a light on by the clock, hit a thing. Because I change my time all the time. I change my wake up time all the time.
John: We have little glowing buttons. We just push the little buttons.
Craig: No, I don’t want to get near her face and start doing that. I want to be able to control it with my phone.
John: Oh, so I see. This is the crucial geography I was not understanding in the scene you were describing. So, in your scene geography, the clock is by your wife, and therefore you don’t want to be anywhere near your wife because she’s asleep and she’s like a bomb that could go off.
Craig: She’s like a bomb that can go off. Exactly.
John: So therefore you can use this device, it’s a remote control for the bomb by your wife.
John: And so you could change the timer so it counts down differently, so that she will blow up earlier, and you could blow up at a later time.
Craig: I think you finally understand. First of all, you understand the danger I’m in.
John: Oh, I know your wife. I know you don’t want to cross her.
Craig: I’m not going to wake her up. I don’t want to wake her up. And this way it’s great. And also the actual process of changing an alarm on most alarm clocks is horrendous. You’re tapping buttons and you’ve got to figure out who to enter this one, this one. The app is lovely. You just go and you scroll like any other time alarm app and hit save. And so I love it personally. And it’s cheap. It’s like $60.
John: Craig, my question for you is you’ve already established that the iPad is in the room, so why don’t you just set the alarm on the iPad and have the iPad wake you up?
Craig: Okay. Great point. I will tell you why. Because sometimes my iPad isn’t plugged in and the battery is low and I’m a little paranoid that it’s going to run out, but also the iPad just does not generate a loud enough alarm for me because I have ear plugs in. And why do I have ear plugs in?
John: Because your wife wakes up early.
Craig: Well, and, you know, there’s–
John: She snores.
Craig: Meh. I don’t know what you’re talking about and I didn’t say anything.
John: [laughs] All right. I’m a big believer in ear plugs as well. I think ear plugs are a good invention. I remember the first time I used them on planes saying like, oh, this is so weird and uncomfortable, and then – they’re great. So, I do believe in ear plugs. I believe in eye shades. I believe in anything that helps you sleep. So, I’m fine with it.
John: Boom. That’s our show for this week. Our show is produced by Godwin Jabangwe. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli. Our outro this week comes from Rajesh Naroth. If you have an outro, you can send us a link to email@example.com. That’s also the place where you can send longer questions like the ones we answered today. For shorter questions on Twitter, I am @johnaugust. Craig is @clmazin. We are on Facebook. Search for Scriptnotes podcast. But don’t leave any fake news here, because we don’t want any fake news on our Facebook.
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You’ll find show notes for this episode and all episodes at johnaugust.com. That’s also where you’ll find the transcripts. We try to get them up about four days after the episode airs.
You can find all of the back episodes at Scriptnotes.net. You can also find a USB drive in the show notes here for all the first 250 episodes of the show.
John: Yeah. That’s a lot of episodes of the show.
Craig: So many episodes.
John: So we have to decide if we’re going to make the 300-episode USB drives. And if we’re going to make them that have the new USBCs. We just don’t know what we’re going to do.
Craig: Well, I know what we won’t do. We won’t funnel any of that sweet, sweet profit to me.
John: Uh-uh. Not a bit of it. It all stays in Godwin’s little coffers.
Craig: Oh, Godwin’s coffers. Godwin’s coffers sounds like some sort of Shakespearean outcry. Godwin’s coffers!
John: I think it’s pretty fantastic. Craig, thank you for a fun episode. I hope it was everything you wanted.
John: See you next week.
Craig: See you next time.
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