The One with Mindy Kaling

John sits down with writer/actor Mindy Kaling (The Office, The Mindy Project, Champions) to talk about her origin story, her big break as Ben Affleck, what it’s like to simultaneously showrun and star in a sitcom, and the nature of half-hour comedies. We also answer a listener question about point of view and its relationship […]


John and Craig discuss the importance and basics of developing relationships in storytelling. Characters are nothing without relationships, like Woody without Buzz, Shrek without Donkey, John without Craig… We then test these ideas about relationships against a fresh set of Three Page Challenges. Links: Arlo Finch covers look different around the world. You can catch […]

Writing Animated Movies

John welcomes Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Homeward Bound) to talk about her experience writing animated features, from the parallel processes of writing and production to her paltry paycheck for Beauty and the Beast. They consider the blurring lines between live-action and hyperrealistic CGI, as well as the history of animation […]


John and co-host John Gatins sit down with Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom to discuss the experience of writing the third season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, from breaking story in hot tubs to adjusting genital-related dances in compliance with Broadcast Standards and Practices. With spoilers aplenty, we discuss the challenges of a TV protagonist’s Act […]

We’re Back, Baby

John and Craig reunite to answer our backlog of listener questions. We follow up on what it means to utilize white space on a page, the conventions of musical numbers, the value of a victory lap, and what the hypothetical destruction of Los Angeles would mean for the industry. We also answer listener questions on […]

Writing Other Things

John and Craig welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to talk about writing projects outside the familiar constraints of screenwriting. We discuss the surprises and adjustments involved in the creative processes of different media: Aline’s graphic novel Jane, Craig’s HBO miniseries Chernobyl, and John’s original song, “Rise.” We also dig into why screenwriters sometimes need to […]

Photoplays and archetypes

In a wide-ranging episode, Craig and John look at a 1912 screenwriting book, Levinson’s beef with the WGA, and the Periodic Table of Storytelling.

Big Fish, Jimmy Buffet, and seeing shows on a budget

The producers have agreed to restore my SCRIPT discount code for Big Fish on Broadway, but only through December 22nd — and they might pull the offer at any time.

The challenge of filming inside a theater

The new 30-second spot for Big Fish features a lot of footage from the show. Filming it was much more complicated than I would have guessed, so I thought a rundown of the process would be interesting for both film and theater folk.

What’s Next

John and Craig discuss what it feels like to finish a project — the combination of excitement and relief, joy and sadness — as Craig advises John which project he should write next now that Big Fish is set to open.

Scriptnotes Live from New York

John and Craig welcome their largest live audience yet for a conversation about Kickstarter, movie pilots and musicals. Joined by special guest Andrew Lippa, they talk about the special challenges and opportunities that arise when characters break into song.

Yank! makes it

The Kickstarter campaign for the Yank! cast album, which I blogged about earlier this week, cleared its $35,000 target this morning. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Big-screen dramas on stage

USA Today’s Elysa Gardner interviewed me and Andrew Lippa about Big Fish and the influx of movie-based dramas on Broadway this season: “The musicals that have been very successful with audiences over time are generally the ones that traffic in big emotions,” notes Lippa, whose credits as a composer and lyricist range from Broadway’s The […]

The Yank! cast album, or let’s do this for Craig

Yank!, a 2010 off-Broadway hit that came so, so close to opening on the Great White Way, is running a Kickstarter campaign to record a proper cast album. This will delight and annoy Craig Mazin.

Big Fish on Broadway, iteration and why I’d love to see you in September

With the Broadway edition of Big Fish imminent, a discussion of iteration and the value of feedback.

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.

Shotgun marriages and terrible roommates

Andrew Lippa and I did an interview for Big Fish about our collaboration. We recorded it in the lobby of the Oriental Theater while the show was playing, so in the background you can hear Kate Baldwin singing “I Don’t Need a Roof” from the second act.

A city born of fire

Writer Derek Haas (Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma) joins John and Craig to discuss gay slurs, refrigerator logic and his TV show, Chicago Fire.

Big Fish Rush

Big Fish starts previews in Chicago tomorrow, April 2nd. Eep. A bunch of readers asked about rush tickets, so I asked our general manager, who asked Broadway in Chicago, who consulted the great oracle of all things ticket-related. Here’s the official word: $25 Student/Senior/Military/Industry Rush Tickets A limited number of rush tickets will be available […]

Tech Starts, Time Stops

We’ve started tech rehearsal for Big Fish in Chicago, and has an exclusive first listen at a song from our show: Time Stops.

From book to movie to musical to commercial

My college professors will be happy to know that roughly 20 years after getting my advertising degree, I finally wrote a television commercial. This 15-second Big Fish spot is airing in Chicago now.

Sprints, marathons and migrations

This week, I’ve been working on a feature, a TV pilot and the stage musical of Big Fish. It’s gotten me thinking about the nature of different forms of dramatic writing.

Roaring, just a little more quietly

The long-running Broadway production of The Lion King put on a special matinee for autistic children and their families.

Writing and decision fatigue

I had a hunch that late in the day wasn’t the best time to introduce a new song for Big Fish. Science agrees.

Big Fish, the musical

We’re doing Big Fish as a Broadway musical, aiming for Fall 2012. Susan Stroman is directing. Andrew Lippa wrote music and lyrics. I wrote the book. Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen are producing.