Yes, screenwriting is actually writing

Craig and John take a swing at several of the week’s hyperbolic headlines, from conflict-free comedy to Fitzgerald’s failures to Strong Female Characters with nothing to do. In each case, there’s a valid idea lurking beneath the overstated claim, but it’s important to separate good examples from bad.

Uncomfortable Ambiguity, or Nobody Wants Me at their Orgy

Nothing is cut-and-dried this week. John and Craig talk Game of Thrones rape, allegations against director Bryan Singer and the new report showing the same low employment numbers for female writers in film and TV.

Q&A from the Holiday Spectacular

John, Craig, and guests take questions from the audience at the Scriptnotes Holiday Spectacular. Topics include TV writing careers, what to do once you have an agent, overcoming gender stereotypes, rewriting Dodgeball, and more.

My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend’s Screenwriter

Writer/director/actor/comedian Mike Birbiglia joins John and Craig to talk about writing for yourself, and how his one-man shows have translated into his films Sleepwalk With Me and My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend. We talk movies and television, stand-up and screenplays, and the upside of failure.

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.

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.

Screenwriters don’t simply adapt, they adopt

Novelist Daniel Wallace looks at how books become movies.

What audiences know

Figuring out what the audience needs to know — and when they need to know it — is one of the trickiest aspects of screenwriting.

Why must we have board-game movies?

Reader Logan is dispirited by Hollywood’s zeal to turn every toy and board game into a franchise.

Can I use a book without permission?

No! Stop and re-assess. There are at least three options, but simply stealing the plot and characters isn’t one of them.

On adaptations and picking projects

MakingOf has an interview up with me in which I talk a bit about my writing process, the challenge of adaptations, and why one’s career is often as much about the scripts you didn’t write.

Kurtzman and Orci on Trek and writing together

Story lessons from Star Trek, from the mouths and minds of the writers.

Take away the questions

You shouldn’t just answer questions. Get rid of them before they’re asked.

Why aren’t adaptations ok for competitions?

With an adapted screenplay, it’s not altogether obvious what awesomeness came from the screenwriter, and what came from the underlying material.


I might as well confirm the news: I’m writing a big-screen version of Preacher.

Lessons of the summer, so far

Let’s look at what we can learn from the first batch of summer movies.

Does a screenwriter have to be well-read?

If I’ve only read 38 on the list of 1001 “Books You Must Read Before You Die,” does that mean I’ll live a long time?

Mysteries of Pittsburgh

The story behind former assistant Rawson Thurber’s second feature.

Short answer sprint

Nine second answers to nine burning questions. Ready…go!

Is it risky to spec something in the public domain?

Not if it will get you read and your expectations are adjusted.

Based on your own novel

Titles matter.

Should I write a novel or a script?

If you’re looking to put your story out into the world, paper beats film, hands down.

Finding out if a book has been optioned

Easy steps to tracking down rights.

Clive Cussler really, really dislikes Sahara

An author rails against his Hollywood adaptation.

As good as the Good Book?

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day or something?