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By Wondery

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Three out of five people dream of writing a book. Maybe you're one of them. But what does it take to go from dream to launch? Screenwriter John August (Go, Big Fish, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) sought to find out as he tackled something he’d only ever dreamed of: writing a novel. From Wondery, A Network Of Storytellers, this is a show about putting something out into the world. How will it turn out? You’ll know when we do.

Customer Reviews

Not much of a long shot for established screenwriter

I write this as a fan of John August, not as much for the quality of his screenwriting, but for what he gives back to the screenwriting community. I’ve met him and believe he is a good dude and means well.

That said, the feelings of doubt and worry and peril that he tries to present in this story are a bit fraudulent. At one point he posits if he is willing to “risk” everything to be a novelist. Now we all know John is risking very little in real terms. If his book is a flop he will go right back to his multi-million dollar screenwriting career. Also he is afforded so much leeway and benefit of the doubt given his established screenwriter cred, and justifiably so.

I am not taking anything away from his pure writing talent - I’m sure the book is great, he’s proven that he can craft a story. But a lot of the “oh gosh” “doubt” and “worry” that he presents comes across as contrived, or at the very least, incredibly naive.

Bottom line this is an entertaining listen more from a fly on the wall perspective but by no means should this be taken as typical example of a “first time” writer getting his big break.

It’s not this easy

Oh man. I hope my creative writing students don’t listen to this! Getting an agent is nearly impossible for novices and writers who don’t already have a name. (Dude, of COURSE it mattered to the agent and editor that you’re a known screenwriter! Your excellent track record got you in the door. And that’s fine—just don’t pretend otherwise. It’s kind of insulting, and may give naive aspiring authors false hope.)

It’s an interesting enough podcast (though the delivery is a little flat) if you don’t know anything about the publishing world. But 1.5 episodes was enough for me.


Disclaimer: I do occasionally listen to Scriptnotes. And I am a fan of John August. However, as a novelist myself, I find this journey to be somewhat misleading.

Short summary: This is an entertaining podcast and one should listen to be entertained as one man guides us through his publishing journey. But this is not an informative “how-to” guide for anyone else. Only John August could write six chapters of a novel, then get one of the biggest kid lit agents, and sell the book off of that. The rest of us need to spend years writing entire books, and months to years querying agents, and *maybe* our publishing journey will start.