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 […]
John and Craig take a look at three new entries in the Three Page Challenge, with scripts tackling kidnapping, dystopia and parkour hackers. We look at both how the writing works on the page, and what the writers seem to be trying to say.
John and Craig look at how the push to increase diversity in TV writing rooms impacts writers looking to staff for the first time.
Remember the live show in Austin, when we promised we’d read one lucky listener’s script and talk about it on the air? This is that episode.
John talks with Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, co-creators of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, about how they pitched and wrote their critically-acclaimed show.
John and Craig look at the non-screenplay things screenwriters end up writing, most notably outlines and treatments. We discuss some of the ones we’ve written (with examples), and offer advice on writing your own.
In an episode consisting entirely of answers to listener questions, John and Craig discuss David Mamet, internet trolls, post-credit scenes and English actors attempting American accents. Plus, who would win in an all-out brawl to the death? The answer will probably not surprise you. Links: David Mamet’s memo to writers of The Unit Craig’s Twitter […]
It’s an all-craft episode as John and Craig discuss what they mean when they say good writing. Quality isn’t an objective measurement but rather a subjective experience. It’s the relationship between the reader and writer. From vulnerability to voice, consistency to surprise, good writing shares many characteristics with good acting. We then look at three […]
To Kill a Mockingbird is usually studied for its themes and cultural issues, but I’d urge you to read it — or re-read it — just for the writing.
John and Craig look at how to introduce characters in a screenplay — and how to avoid being mocked by a Twitter feed for it. We go back through previous Three Page Challenges and several of the screenplays nominated for awards this year to examine trends and techniques.
I don’t have reason to write many of jokes. Most of the projects I work on are either dramas or premise-funny rather than punchline-funny. But I always admire well-crafted jokes. They’re tiny works of magic.
Craig and John discuss the impact of Star Wars knocking down all the records, both for the industry and big-screen sci-fi.
In preparation for our live show with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, we’re re-running this episode from the Scriptnotes archive.
John and Craig welcome special guests Malcolm Spellman, Natasha Leggero, Riki Lindhome and Alan Yang to the third annual Scriptnotes Holiday show, recorded live on December 9th, 2015 in Hollywood.
John and Craig take an in-depth look at two scenes in Damien Chazelle’s WHIPLASH to see how conflicts were structured — and what changed from script to shooting.
Aline Brosh McKenna joins us to talk through the launch of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and what she’s learned since she introduced us to the show nearly a year ago. Brian Lowry of Variety raves that it is “one of the fall’s most promising hours.” We’re not surprised at all.
When dealing with cutaways and flashbacks, screenwriters have a few choices for how to portray it on the page.
John and Craig discuss why movie heroes — unlike those in novels or musicals — generally don’t profess internally conflicting views. In reality, our feelings on a topic are likely shades of gray. On the big screen, characters tend to articulate a single point firmly.
John and Craig take a deep dive into scene description, looking at how seven produced screenplays arranged the words on the page. With samples from Aliens, Erin Brockovich, Oceans 11, Unforgiven, Wall-E, Wanted and Whip It, we tackle verbs and metaphors, ellipses and underlining.
Daniel Wallace, who wrote the novel Big Fish, sent me the syllabus for the college writing class he’s teaching, including a first-week requirement of a 100-word short story.
Craig, John, and Aline record the 200th episode of Scriptnotes live with a worldwide audience listening in — and chiming in — as they discuss TV showrunning and whether quality really counts at the box office.
B.J. Novak is all about lists. He asked me to write this one about issues I frequently see in scripts written by beginning screenwriters. 1. Starting with a concept rather than a character We don’t want a movie about a lost relic. We want a movie about Indiana Jones. 2. Being too nice to the […]
John and Craig dig into the listener mailbag and take questions on TV producer credits, jealousy over other writers’ success, writing tight vs writing long and plenty of other follow up.
Craig and John discuss backup plans, camera directions, and becoming so good they can’t ignore you. Plus we answer two listener questions about specificity in scene headers and how to indicate that a script is intended for animation.
For the first time ever, John and Craig spend an entire episode on a full-length original screenplay, K.C. Scott’s THIS IS WORKING.