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a Quote-Unquote Newsletter

issue 16

July 30, 2020

The valuable lessons of the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest Hoax

In 1957, The BBC news program (I’m sorry, programme) Panorama played an April Fools Day joke, convincing many viewers that spaghetti noodles grew on trees.

While we’d never encourage you to dupe the public, the success of this hoax tells a lot about how to get an audience to suspend their disbelief through the careful accumulation of details.

But why would somebody want Pope Leo XIII's air purifier?

Sometimes a single object can hold the key to a larger story. Curators from the Science Museum Group are looking for help identifying thousands of mysterious objects once owned by Sir Henry Wellcome. Any one of these objects could be the starting point for a great story, and they’re a reminder that sometimes all it takes to build something larger is to pay attention to the details of a single, unique object.

Give your dialogue a new leash on life

Dialect Coaches Erik Singer and Eliza Simpson talk through some twists on familiar phrases and other language pet peeves. Everything from vocal fry to grammar rules comes into play, making this a fun watch for language nerds and writers interested in developing some verbal quirks for their characters.

Get yourself a nice bowl of cold slaw and check it out!

Highland How-To: Pencil Sketch Scenes on Screen

When mapping out a scene — or any piece of writing — one of the best ways to start is with the synopsis tag. Think of it as a pencil sketch before committing to ink.


Just preface your lines with an equals sign —

= roger finds the key
= noise from outside
= checks the window


— and you’ll see Highland 2 puts text in a lighter color, making it easy to distinguish from your “real” writing. 

These synopses show up in the Navigator by default, so they’re also a handy way of leaving notes for yourself about things you need to remember.

= make this scene funnier

To find out more tips on how to use Highland 2, check out our knowledge base.

Writing in the perfect needle drop

One great song reference can send people back in time. But if you’re calling out a song from the 1990s, will today’s audiences even recognize it? The Pudding is here to let you know which 1990s songs still resonate with Milennials and Gen Z.

Other Cool Things

In an attempt to save time when making outlines for episodes of Scriptnotes, John worked out how to make TextExpander to generate a template in WorkFlowy.

Musical theatre coach Marc Daniel Patrick dissects the details of Johnathon Groff’s performance of “You’ll Be Back” in Hamilton (including the spitting).

From Iowa PBS, a short tutorial from Jim Henson on how to build puppets, breaking down how everyday objects can stand in for the few details you need to make a clear character. Jim Henson could make even a simple How To clip strange and entertaining.

And that’s what’s inneresting this week!

If you know someone else who might want to read this, please forward it to them. Thanks!

Come across something you think other readers will find inneresting? Reach out to Chris on Twitter @ccsont or email us at ask@johnaugust.com.
     

UPCOMING EVENTS

November 3rd, 2020
Election Day
     

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