Story and Plot

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.

101: Q&A from the live show

In this special bonus episode, John and Craig answer listener questions from the 100th episode with help from guests Rawson Thurber and Aline Brosh McKenna.

Scriptnotes, the 100th episode

John and Craig are joined by Aline Brosh McKenna and Rawson Thurber for the 100th episode of Scriptnotes, recorded live at the Academy Lab in Hollywood. It was a great night with an amazing audience.

Long movies, producer credits and price-fixing

John and Craig discuss the Apple ebook price-fixing lawsuit and its lessons for Hollywood, before segueing to the new credits system for producers. Then: Have movies gotten too long, and would making them shorter really save money?

Is 15 the new 30?

Have first acts gotten shorter, or does it just feel that way? John and Craig discuss the pressure on screenwriters to “get to it” faster, and why that’s often the wrong goal.

The Little Mermaid

Craig and John spend an entire episode discussing and dissecting 1989’s THE LITTLE MERMAID, looking at both its structure and scene work.

Bechdel and Batman

It’s a week of pondering other people’s opinions. First, Craig and John take a look at the Bechdel Test: is it a useful metric for screenwriters, or just meaningless checkbox-ticking?

Veronica Mars Attacks

Craig and John discuss the big Veronica Mars/Kickstarter news in one of the more contentious podcasts to date. If you like umbrage, this is the show for you.

Rigorous, structured daydreaming

Craig and John take a look at an old post that found new life this week when it got picked up on Twitter and Reddit. We go beyond the bullet points to look at the process of writing a scene, from asking the basic questions to getting the words on the page.


John and Craig give heroes the week off and talk bad guys. Not every movie needs a villain, but if you have one, he better be good.

The hyenas got a raw deal

The hyenas from The Lion King are hungry, yo.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Craig and John spend the entire episode discussing and dissecting RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, looking at both its structure and scene work.

Plot holes, and the myth of perseveraversity

John and Craig discuss Frankenweenie and Superhero! before cracking open the mailbox to answer listener questions.

Lego story rules

Emma Coats’s list of 22 story rules moves from useful to delightful when illustrated with Lego.

Writing better bad guys

Chuck Wendig has 25 things you should know about antagonists.

Setting, perspective and terrible numbers

It’s two parts craft and one part business as Craig and John discuss the alarming earnings report coming out of the WGA, plus a deeper look at setting and POV.

Endings for beginners

John and Craig look at how to write satisfying third acts. That doesn’t necessarily mean a happy ending, but rather one that feels earned.

Littlest Plot Shop

Craig and John take a look at the difference between plot and story with some help from the Littlest Pet Shop and Game of Thrones.

Casting and positive outcomes

Craig and John discuss the screenwriter’s role in casting, then segue to the New York Times profile of producer/executive Lindsay Doran’s approach to story.

How long is Rope?

All movies exist in unreal time, not because of cuts and gimmickry, but because the experience of watching a movie involves surrendering to that film’s reality. We go into dream mode, especially when watching something on a giant screen in a dark theater.

Dear Cindy in Blue Valentine

So, hey, you’re pregnant. And it’s not welcome news, because you’re in college and hope to go to medical school. But before you marry scruffy-cute ukelele guy, maybe think about adoption.

Symphonies and screenplays

Roger Kamien’s description of the sonata form, a building block of the classical symphony, will seem familiar to screenwriters.

The two kinds of endings

Most stories end one of two ways: resolution or logical exhaustion.

If we played by the rules right now we’d be in gym

Nick’s heard from the experts is that you need character arcs and all that jazz but he just doesn’t see that in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

How much screen time does the hero get?

Is there a unspecified limit as to how much face time a main character gets on screen?