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Scriptnotes Podcast

Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting and related topics in the film and television industry, everything from getting stuff written to the vagaries of copyright and work-for-hire law.
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Feb 7, 2012

After last week's depressing reality-check, Craig and John float back to the lands of joyful possibility with a look at theme, or central dramatic argument, or whatever you choose to call that narrative glue that helps hold a story together.

Theme, like structure, is one of those screenwriting terms that entrances newcomers and annoys veterans. Or at least it annoys John.

Generally, when you're talking about theme, you're trying to answer the question, "What is the story really about?" Your plot might concern a spy and stolen nuclear missiles, but the intellectual/emotional heart of the story is whether any man be trusted. Or whether all good acts are selfish. Or if men and women can be friends. (Nora Ephron's Bourne Identity.)

Also discussed: John's love for OmniFocus + Siri, braindead tasks, and cancer but only briefly, because this will be a happy show, god help us.

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UPDATE 2-9-12: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

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