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QandA

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 […]

First Day on the Job

Craig and John debut a new segment: This Kind of Scene, looking at how different movies handle similar situations. The Hudsucker Proxy, The Devil Wears Prada, Hidden Figures and Training Day all need to introduce their heroes to their new workplaces. We examine how those scenes work, both on the page and on screen. We […]

Distracted Boyfriend Is All of Us

John and Craig dive into another round of How Would This Be a Movie, looking at stories (and memes!) from around the world to figure out which ones might lend themselves to big-screen treatment.

How Arlo Finch got his name

I have a very hard time writing a character if I don’t love the name. So I obsess over picking the right one. I’ll spend hours staring in the middle distance, trying out various combinations until something clicks.

Big Screens, Big Money

John and Craig offer a 101 on how movies make money at theaters, and why a 1948 Supreme Court case changed everything.

Unforgiven

Craig and John take a deep dive into 1992’s Unforgiven, looking at how the David Webb Peoples script works on the page and on the screen.

Well, It Worked in the 80s

John and Craig look at four films from the past and discuss how we could make them today.

The Magic Word Is In This Episode

Craig and John tackle a bunch of listener questions, along with follow-up on previous discussions.

Scriptnotes Live Homecoming Show

John and Craig welcome special guests Megan Amram (The Good Place), Tom Schnauz (Better Call Saul) and Matt Selman (The Simpsons) to talk about writing television, from staffing to breaking story to the challenge of short seasons.

What’s in the WGA Deal

Craig and John talk with Chris Keyser, one of the co-chairs of the WGA Negotiating Committee, to learn what gains were achieved in the most recent deal, and what work lies ahead.

Dennis Lehane on novels vs. screenplays

This quote from Dennis Lehane on the difference between writing books and movies is spot-on, but worth a few clarifications.

Logic and Gimmickry

John and Craig step up to the whiteboard to look at the story logic in our scripts, then examine how tricks and gimmicks can help keep scenes interesting.

A last look at The Leftovers

Boris Kachka takes an in-depth look at how the final episode of The Leftovers was written, shot and edited.

This is why you want a writer’s agreement

A writing team finds their work held hostage by a friend who brought them the concept.

Lying builds character

When we see characters lying, we know more about what matters to them.

On not reading reviews

Amanda Peet has a terrific piece in the NY Times about why she doesn’t read reviews, and how strange it feels when rest of the world knows something you don’t.

Pour one out for “Hold my beer”

“Hold my beer” is getting clammy, but it’s worth exploring why it works as a Twitter joke.

Some Questions for Paul Ryan as He Tries to Sleep

I think you’re a potentially great character but you seem stuck in a story where you’re neither hero nor villain.

The Workaholics list of banned phrases

John Quaintance recently tweeted photos of two whiteboards listing phrases banned in the Workaholics writers’ room. His tweet has been widely shared, and is a mitzvah to all writers. These phrases are all clams — jokes that aren’t funny anymore and therefore need to die. When you include them in a script, you’re evoking the […]

Starting a screenwriting career somewhere else, part two

In a recent episode of Scriptnotes, we shared stories from screenwriters who managed to build careers while living outside of Los Angeles, New York or London. Here are additional tales from writers who got their start without moving to the big city first.

Twelve Days of Scriptnotes

In this very special episode from 2014, Craig and John welcome special guests Aline Brosh McKenna, Rachel Bloom, B.J. Novak, Jane Espenson and Derek Haas to talk about writing books, movies and especially television.

Do all the good you can

One of the positive things I took from this election was a quote Hillary Clinton used from her Methodist upbringing: Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you […]

Starting a screenwriting career outside of LA (or New York, or London)

In a recent episode of Scriptnotes, we shared stories from screenwriters who managed to build careers while living outside of Los Angeles, New York or London. Here are additional tales from writers who got their start without moving to the big city first.

Don’t Think Twice

Craig and guest host Mike Birbiglia discuss Mike’s new film, Don’t Think Twice, a comedy about life as an improv performer. The two explore the current state of independent film and the challenges facing aspiring filmmakers.

Anthrax, Amnesia and Atomic Veterans

John and Craig implore screenwriters to think twice before using the phrase “begs the question.” We know it’s a losing battle, but if we learned anything from 300, sometimes those are still worth having.