Zak Penn On Writing

We missed this one during the Oscar series, but there’s no way I would let it slip by. This is one of my favorite movies of the year, and if you haven’t seen it you might still be able to catch it in theaters. Directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Zak Penn, “Ready Player One” is truly a special movie. Not only does it have a great story, but the amount of references the film makes to pop culture over the past 40 years (maybe more) is stunning. I’m a big lover of sci-fi, and if you want to see what the future of virtual reality could hold this is a wonderful way to find an understanding.

Zak Penn wrote this adapted film based off of the novel, which was written by Ernest Cline. He’s also well known for having written “X-Men 2,” “The Incredible Hulk,” and “The Avengers.” He’s definitely one of Marvel’s go to guys.

Here are some questions from the interview:

When you saw the work that Ernest had done, you knew you had to adapt it to the screen. What immediately was some of the challenges that you knew you were going to face?”

I feel like there’s been a trend, especially with The Hobbit films, that it was one book that they stretched out into three movies. Was that ever on the table to do this?”

Now was there ever a scene in the book where you yourself really were like I really want this in here, whether logistically or whatever, just didn’t quite make it for time.”

This is a wonderful interview if you want to gain a good understanding of some of why it’s necessary to make changes when transitioning from a novel to the big screen, and how that can benefit the movie if done right.

You can find the full interview here: Screen Rant – Zak Penn Interview: Ready Player One


Writing the First Draft

For the next part of this series let’s discuss the pesky first draft. By now you should have put a lot of work into preparing for this moment. It’s time to release the floodgates, and let all those great ideas you have out through your fingers onto the keyboard. Momentum is so important at this point. In fact the most important thing you can do is keep going until the first draft is done.

Here’s a great article that can help you with the first draft: Go Into The Story – How I Write A Script, Part 8: First Draft

I don’t have much to add to this. The article is a great read, and it’s very straightforward. Just remember, it’s okay to make mistakes. The important thing is not to get stuck. This is a sprint, not a marathon.

Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely On Writing


This week, we’ve got two wonderful writers who have written several of the biggest Marvel movies to date Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. I’m a big fan of what Marvel is doing with it’s cinematic universe, and I absolutely loved “Avengers: Infinity War.” This is one Marvel movie you don’t want to miss out on. This interview is also spoiler free! So anyone can read it.

They’re most well known for having written “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: Civil War,” and most recently “Avengers: Infinity War.” And they’ve done a lot of other really cool movies too.

Here are a few questions from the interview:

How do you even go about writing a movie like this? How much is set in stone story-wise? How much freedom do you have to really play around?”

Tell me a little bit about how do you do right by these characters when there are approximately one billion of them in the movie?”

I want to go back to that thing you said about how you had two movies to play around with. However things land, this is still one movie, in that it’s coming out as one movie and people are buying tickets to one movie. Will someone who has never seen a Marvel movie before, who buys a ticket to this, then drops dead immediately and doesn’t see Avengers 4—will they have a good time?”

Here’s the full interview: GQ – How the Writers of Avengers: Infinity War Made the Biggest Superhero Movie of All Time

Writing A Script Diary

Dear Diary,

Today, I met the boy of my dreams. He’s got the most beautiful eyes you could just get lost in for days at at time…

Wait, we’re not writing about that kind of diary today! We’re writing a script diary, which I’d never heard of until reading this great blog post: Go Into The Story – How I Write A Script, Part 7: Script Diary

A script diary sounds like it could be a hit or miss, but it’s definitely worth a shot. I’ll be trying it out, and it may be beneficial to you too. It seems like a great way to organize your daily thoughts. While you could definitely just go from the outline to the script page, this may be a great way to organize your thoughts.

Virgil Williams On Writing

This is a great interview, and by luck it adds onto our post from last week about outlining, “Writing A Proper Outline.” I realize I never discussed outlining for adaptations, and this interview covers that wonderfully. It’s definitely worth a read. Say “hello” to Virgil Williams, writer of “Mudbound,” which was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. This is the final interview for the Academy Awards, so I hope you enjoy it.

Besides “Mudbound,” Virgil is most well known for having written “Criminal Minds,” “The Chicago Code,” and “ER.”

Here’s a few questions from the interview:

I want to begin by asking about your experience reading Hillary Jordan’s novel for the first time. At what point did you start thinking about adapting the book?”

I recently saw you at the WGA’s Beyond Words panel, and you were talking about the importance of outlining to you, particularly as a TV writer. I was wondering, with this script in particular — since we’re juggling multiple voiceovers, multiple very complex emotional arcs — what’s your organization like on the page? How do you begin to approach that?”

Why was it important to you to change the ending from the novel, and at what point did you decide to do that?

Here’s the full interview: The Black List – Virgil Williams on MUDBOUND