What If A Writer Enjoys Solving Story Problems More Than Writing? by Shannan E. Johnson

Film Courage: Shannan I believe you said in another interview that you had a professor say to you ‘How is it you can help all of the other writers figure out their problems, but you can do it for yourself?’

Writer/Instructor and Script Consultant Shannan E. Johnson (The Professional Pen)Something like that! That is exactly what he said. Of course in that moment it was soul-crushing, right? You take it as a criticism. But actually what it made me realize is the writers’ room part, the workshopping part, was the part I enjoyed the most. It made me take a step back and say Hey, this is the part I think is fun. I love reading other people’s stuff and finding those problems. It’s like a puzzle to me. 

I had someone ask me Why do you enjoy this so much? It’s like somebody who is trying to crack a math problem or someone who is trying to put a puzzle together. I love being able to read screenplays and figure out what the holes are and how to fix them. And by working on other people’s stuff so often, it helps me with my stuff as well. It all came back full circle.

Film Courage: So you were doing your undergraduate studies?

Shannan: I was getting my MFA at Florida State University. 

Film Courage: How far in were you when this professor said this?

Shannan: Good question. At Florida State we do a two-year program but it’s two…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).









About Shannan:

After grad school I became a junior creative executive at NBCUniversal at the Syfy Channel. I was there for the rebrand. Remember Sci Fi? Yeah, not really. Anywho, it was my job to help writers and producers take their ideas from pitch to production. I co-exec’d on Alphas, Being Human, Haven, Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, and more Syfy dramedies. This is how I honed my skill in all stages of the screenwriting process…(read more here).

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Scriptapalooza Screenplay & Shorts Competition  Over 90 producers reading $50,000 in prizes

Scriptapalooza Screenplay & Shorts Competition. Over 90 producers reading. $50,000 in prizes.