Archives

Writing Process

Pitching Television, or Being a Passionate Widget

John and Craig share their insight into pitching for television. How is it different that pitching features? How do express your passion for the project? How do you avoid being a Willy Loman pitching to a Willy Loman? (Sometimes you don’t.) We also follow-up on the conversation about sexual harassment, with a focus on how […]

Austin 2017 Three Page Challenge

John and Craig review four Three-Page Challenge entries with the help of Daniela Garcia-Brcek (Literary Manager at Circle of Confusion) and Cullen Conly (Literary Agent at ICM). We then invite the writers up to discuss the notes. It’s not just craft, though. Our special guests give us a behind-the-scenes look at the realities of representation. […]

(Adjective) Soldier

Craig and John open the overflowing listener mailbag to tackle questions on everything from montages to life rights to passive heroes. Plus, we have a definitive answer on whether to number minor characters. (Don’t.) We also finally address a major controversy: Craig’s missing cover of “Killing the Blues” from Episode 109. It exists, and you […]

All of It Needs to Stop

John and Craig revisit the discussion of sexual harassment in Hollywood, and how to support writers facing it. While the media spotlight is on the predators, it’s the day-to-day bullying and bad behavior that may have a more pernicious effect. Then it’s another round of How Would This Be a Movie, looking at stories in […]

Austin Live Show 2017 (AKA Too Many Scotts)

John and Craig talk with uber-screenwriter Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Minority Report, Logan) about how his feature script Godless ended up as a miniseries at Netflix. We then invite more guests up to discuss what movies can learn from the success of TV: Guinevere Turner (American Psycho, Go Fish) Scott Alexander (Ed […]

Getting Stuff Written

John welcomes Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo and author of Pep Talks for Writers, to discuss the writing process and how to get out of your own way creatively. We explore the ubiquity of the Other Syndrome and the perils of envy. We also look at pen names, “throw-away writing,” and the advantages of […]

Should You Give Up?

John and Craig attempt to answer the question that many aspiring screenwriters dare not ask aloud: when — if ever — is the right time to give up on the dream of becoming a working screenwriter? Relatedly, is it okay to omit “aspiring” when describing oneself as a screenwriter? How do you ask friends for […]

Movies Dodged a Bullet

John and Craig speculate about why the film industry fared better in the transition to digital while the music industry struggled. We also follow up on the WGA elections, hearing John’s priorities as a new board member. Lured back into the intrigue of MoviePass, we discuss new information on this business model. Then it’s another […]

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 […]

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.

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.

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.

How to Introduce Characters

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.

Outlines and Treatments

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.

No More Milk Money

Craig and John welcome back Aline Brosh McKenna to discuss what she learned going from writing features to show-running Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — and what’s waiting for her back in movie-land. The three of us came into the business at the height of the spec market, but everything is different now.

Sexy But Doesn’t Know It

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.

The premise, or what’s the point?

Michael Tabb takes a deep look at defining the premise of your story, but “premise” might not be the best word for what he’s describing.

Changing heroes mid-stream

As an animated film moves from screenplay to storyboards to scratch reels, you see the story coming to life — and the problems front-and-center.

Scriptnotes Holiday Show 2015

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.

The Batman in the High Castle

Craig and John discuss epic world-building, and the promises and pitfalls for writers attempting to create fictional universes.

Nobody Knows Anything (including what this quote means)

Craig and John get to the bottom of William Goldman’s famous quotation about Hollywood, which is so often misapplied. Then it’s a discussion of zombie cars, wind-tunnels, blockbusters, and the paradox of choice.

Writers Rooms, Taxes, and Fat Hamlet

John and Craig discuss the trend of hiring multiple writers to work concurrently on tentpole features. Can movies be written like television, and should they?

The One Where Aline’s Show Debuts

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.

Features are different

John and Craig look at how writing feature films is fundamentally different than writing television, and how that difference begins at the point of story inception. It’s not just that movies are longer; they’re also built to be unique events, with characters embarking on once-in-a-lifetime journeys. We discuss how to decide whether an idea is better suited for features or series, and lessons learned from properties that have existed in both worlds.

Screenwriter Mark Mallouk on Black Mass

In addition to today’s normal Scriptnotes episode, premium subscribers can find a half-hour interview I did with Black Mass screenwriter Mark Mallouk. We discuss the film’s long journey from book to screen, including how the sudden reappearance of Whitey Bulger in 2011 changed both the script and the production.