Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon on Writing

Silicon Valley” is back! And this year has been a great year for Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon. This movie is a really interesting case, considering these two wrote about a shared traumatic story in their life. It’s part dramedy, and part love story about how the two met and came together. It’s kind of cool seeing a husband and wife write a true story that became an academy award nominee for best original screenplay. Together they wrote, “The Big Sick.” Kumail is a well-known comedian, actor, and writer, and Emily has been known for writing. Emily is known for having written “Super You” prior to this. Also, prior to this, Kumail is known for having written “The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail” and “Michael & Michael Have Issues.”

A few questions from the interview:

“So you both write comedy, but your life isn’t a comedy. So you’ve turned a difficult period of your life into comedy, the period when Emily was in a medically induced coma. So how did you go about trying to find the comedy there? You know, ’cause you still manage to keep it as a comedy even during the rough periods like that period of the film.”

“So you know, I’ve always wanted to ask this to someone. Emily, what’s it like when you come out of coma? Like what – what’s the first feeling that you have?”

“So how did this, like, medical nightmare affect your relationship? You were not yet engaged when this happened.”

You can find the full article here by NPR, one of my favorite sources for interviews. You can read or listen: NPR: How A Medically Induced Coma Led To Love, Marriage And ‘The Big Sick’

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Develop Your Characters

Character Development

If you’re having trouble writing, it’s likely you just don’t know the proper steps to take or might be lacking direction. While there is no magic formula to writing a good screenplay, I think there is a helpful order to doing things. Of course, some may just want to throw order out the window as it can be hindering to their thought process.  I found a great 10-part series on “Go Into The Story,” and I’m going to be sharing them week by week. This week, we’ll be talking about character development, and how that may benefit you. You really should read their posts before diving into my commentary on them. I want to be clear, I’m a big fan of these blog posts, and only hope to promote this blog in a friendly way. I’m merely commenting on them, and adding some thoughts of my own. I’m hoping to share them with you to help you with your writing.

This article is great, and I only have a few comments and tips to add: Go Into The Story – How I Write A Script, Part 4: Character Development

Scott touches upon my first point, and it’s funny, because before I freshened up on his article I was going to say the exact same thing. Order is important for certain things, but in creating a good outline you’ll do a few things all at the same time. You’ll be brainstorming, researching, plotting, and working on your character development all at the same time. Ideas will generate. You’ll read about one thing while doing research that may lead to a great idea for an action your character might make. Or you may be brainstorming and think your going to do a jailbreak scene (plot), but know nothing about breaking out of a jail. This will generate more research. The point is you should do what you feel until you feel enough has been done. You’ll know when it’s time to stop this part and move on to the next step, the outline. In the meantime, enjoy this! It’s one of the most fun parts of writing.

When writing my characters, I like to create an area of my outline dedicated to them. I like all my characters on the same file so I can scroll through them. I actually use Google Docs to categorize everything so it’s very easy to skip from one character to another and back. The reason I do this is that characters feed off of each other, and when you want to write about how they interact with each other it’s nice to be able to skip to the other character easily.

One thing to keep in mind is that characters have minds of their own. You create them, but they live and breathe just as much as you do. Beyond inception listen to them. It’s best not to force them to do anything. Your viewers will know when they are going out of character, and so will you. Because of this your story may change simply because of the actions that spawn after the character’s inception. I probably sound like a crazy guy. Get all these people out of my head! Ooga booga! Seriously, the cool thing about a great character is that they change over time, just like we do. Think about how Walter White changes in “Breaking Bad” or how “Spider-Man” has changed from movie to movie and in the comics. What is it that makes Spider-Man who he is? Does it have to be a he? Is he more fun as a high school student or would he’d be cooler as a middle-aged man? You get where I’m going.

When you create an in-depth character every detail counts. Their whole life. Past, present, and even their future could affect the story you’re telling. Be thorough, and write down every detail you can think of. You never know when the fact that they’ve been dying to eat shawarma is going to come in and play an important part in the story.

Okay class, there’s one more part to this whole smorgasbord, before the outline, and it’s called plotting. We’ll cover that next week.

James Ivory On Writing

This interview features James Ivory, who has won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his film, Call Me By Your Name.” He’s 89, and has just won his first academy award. It’s never too late for success to find your way! He says he’s still got at least one film left in him too. James Ivory is a film director, producer, and screenwriter. In writing, he’s well-known for having written “Call Me By Your Name,” “Le Divorce,” and “Maurice.”

A few questions from the interview:

How did you originally get involved with Call Me by Your Name? Weren’t you originally attached to direct the film?

How different was the final version from the film you originally envisioned when you were writing the screenplay?”

Have you been surprised by the reception of this film?”

Do you see the film as political in any way?”

The interview is a good read. You can find the full interview here: The Hollywood Reporter: James Ivory on His Film Legacy and Adapting ‘Call Me by Your Name’

Friday Fun – Characters

FF - Characters Expectation Vs. Reality

The character I’m creating is clever and witty, and says lots of funny things. He’s really smart and cool, and is well liked by almost everybody. I think I’m going to name him Jordan. Oh wait, that’s just me. Making original characters is hard. I should just write stories about where there’s just a bunch of different Jordans doing cool things….

Time for Some Research

If you’re having trouble writing, it’s likely you just don’t know the proper steps to take or might be lacking direction. While there is no magic formula to writing a good screenplay, I think there is a helpful order to doing things. Of course, some may just want to throw order out the window as it can be hindering to their thought process.  I found a great 10-part series on “Go Into The Story,” and I’m going to be sharing them week by week. This week, we’ll be talking about research, and how that may benefit you. You really should read their posts before diving into my commentary on them. I want to be clear, I’m a big fan of these blog posts, and only hope to promote this blog in a friendly way. I’m merely commenting on them, and adding some thoughts of my own. I’m hoping to share them with you to help you with your writing.

This article is great, and I only have a few comments and tips to add: Go Into the Story: How I Write A Script, Part 3: Research

Like Scott, I love libraries. I think these are especially good places to go when you need to dive deep into a subject. They’re big money savers too! I was researching imaginary friends a while back, and they had everything I could want on the topic. Books are free in libraries which is the biggest benefit, but if you’d like to own them then there is no need to go. The internet is an amazing place for information, but you better make sure your source is good, and that you’ve got your facts straight. It would really be terrible if you had a piece of information that was crucial to your story, and it turned out to be wrong.

The most in-depth questions should probably go to people that specialize in the subject you’re trying to learn about. If you have some very specific questions it’s the best idea to go to a specialist. This may not always be an option. If it’s not, the information is out there somewhere. Don’t worry. Make sure to give your research due diligence and you’ll find all the answers you need.

An important take is that during research is a great time to continue to brainstorm. You’ll nab ideas from all over the place. During the initial brainstorming you’ll likely have in idea of what happens throughout your story in a broad sense. When you’re researching, this is where you get the more focused ideas. You can’t think everything up by yourself, which is why going to outside sources is so helpful. One of the greatest parts of researching is that it helps you generate some really great ideas. Also, when you are highlighting books or are taking notes, it would be a good idea to write down how you can use those things in your story. It’ll get your mind jogging.

For a more in-depth look with some great examples, check out the article I provided above. I think this will help a lot of writers out there.

Jordan Peele On Writing

Hey everybody! Apologies about our brief absence. We’re in the process of moving locations, and we’re temporarily closed as we build out a new location in Santa Monica to open this summer. It’s a very exciting time for us right now.

Find out more here: https://theofficeonline.com/new-digs/

I’ve been busy packing boxes, but we’re done with that now. Back to our regular posts! This interview features Jordan Peele, who I’m so glad has won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his film, “Get Out.” If you haven’t seen it, this is one movie you shouldn’t miss this year. He’s most well-known for having written “Key and Peele,” “Keanu,” and of course “Get Out.”

A few questions from the interview:

“So you call your new movie a social thriller. Is that your coinage, social thriller? Why did you need a new term? Why did you need that term?”

“So have you ever been in the position of being the black boyfriend brought home to the white girlfriend’s parents and the parents didn’t know that you were black until you walked through the door?”

“You’ve said that you knew by the time you were 13 that you wanted to make a horror film. How did you know that?”

“What’s one of the films that really scared you when you were young?”

If you’d like to see the full interview, you can find it here:

NPR: ‘Get Out’ Sprang From An Effort To Master Fear, Says Director Jordan Peele