Short Disturbances

a blog about stories
and how to tell them

I’ve been writing for most of my life, dictating stories to my grandmother before I could hold a pencil, fancying myself a poet in undergrad, and now as a screenwriter and editor. I hope that I’ll never stop learning about this craft, and I invite you to join me along the road.

  • Write to Tell (Yourself) the Truth: An Interview with Lorien McKenna
    Telling the truth may be the hardest thing of all. In interviewing screenwriter and playwright Lorien McKenna, I found one of the most empathic people I’ve ever met. We talk about voice, juggling a creative life, and working from a place of honest vulnerability.
  • New Story “In September” Out Now
    Quick hit for you all today. I have a new story out now with Simultaneous Times, the audio fiction podcast from Space Cowboy Books in Joshua Tree, CA. “In September” is a rather personal time travel study, on the death of my grandfather and the ways that history so often turns on a single day. […]
  • A Life is a Fractured Narrative: An Interview with Paul Tremblay
    In this interview with horror writer Paul Tremblay, we talk about the new movie based on his work (dir. M. Night Shyamalan), novel writing, finding your community, solar panels, and toilet paper.
  • Never Leave Anything Unfinished: An Interview with David Quiroz, Jr.
    After just a few minutes of talking to David Quiroz, Jr., it becomes obvious that this is someone who gets things done. In this interview, we talk about what it’s like working on other people’s projects, what you can learn by writing in different media, and how to develop a career where other people pitch you projects.
  • Actionable Empathy: An Interview with Pamela Ribon
    Pamela Ribon’s written on everything from MOANA to MY YEAR OF DICKS (not a typo). We talk about growing up in small towns, learning how to write for audiences, and we come up with a precise, accurately measured formula for going viral.
  • Announcing “Burgess Springs”
    A new audio drama podcast, “Burgess Springs” blends not-so-true crime with the eerieness of “Twin Peaks” and the mystery of “Stranger Things.” Find it on all the major podcatchers!
  • Activity Creates Energy: An Interview with Javier Grillo-Marxuach
    An interview with Javier Grillo-Marxuach, writer on Lost, The Dark Crystal, The Witcher, and many other excellent shows.
  • Discipline Before Inspiration: An Interview with Carlos Cisco
    In the first long-form interview of this site, I interview Carlos Cisco, staff writer on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, about his career, advice for aspiring dramatic writers, and tabletop roleplaying games.
  • Interarchitectural Trauma: THE HOUSE
    Netflix’s new stop-motion feature THE HOUSE is a tour de force of strangeness, heartfelt emotion, and technical filmmaking prowess.
  • Art Moves Through the World: A Collection of Wordle Variants
    Wordle has spawned a wide-range of interesting spinoffs and variations. Here we look at a few, and think about what these variations might mean for the art of storytelling.
  • You can write, or you can do nothing
    A brilliant little writer’s mantra from Neil Gaiman: “You can write, or you can do nothing. But you can’t do anything other than write.”
  • Don’t Fear the Filler
    When you find yourself stuck in a scene in your first draft, don’t fear the filler.
  • Some Holiday Reading
    Some of my favorite webpages on art and story-making I came across over the past year. Whether you need an excuse to hide from the in-laws, or something to read with all the doors and windows shut, you’ll find something good here.
  • A Quick-and-Dirty Production Notebook
    This blog’s all about storytelling, and today I’ve got something a little different: a quick-and-dirty notebook for production days.
  • Simple Hacks: “To Be” Verbs
    We overuse the “to be” verb constantly. Finding ways to use it intentionally will sharpen our prose and add pleasing sentence variation.
  • NaNoWriMo Recap 2021
    A totally personal recap of National Novel Writing Month 2021. Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? How’d it go? What kind of lessons have you gained from arbitrary writing goals?
  • The Plays of William Shakespeare, Playwright: A Play
    I present to you a new play: THE PLAYS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, PLAYWRIGHT: A PLAY. An absurdist tribute.
  • Consider “We See”
    Before all the Scriptnotes adherents come and castigate me, let me say in a clear voice, I AM ONE OF YOU. I just have some thoughts about “We see.”
  • Remember THE ROCK? No not that one, the other one.
    David Sims doesn’t like RED NOTICE. But I love THE ROCK.
  • An Alfaro Quote for Your Consideration
    Luis Alfaro took helm of the L.A. Writer’s Workshop in August, and he said something about whose voices are or aren’t present that I think we can all learn from.
  • Other People
    Adding an external viewer to a scene’s emotional core can help root your audience in how they’re supposed to feel, providing a sometimes much-needed guide.
  • Writing Tools: Google Sheets Tracker
    A writing tracker can help you learn about your own best practices as a writer. I share my own writing tracker here, built in Google Sheets, that you can modify to your heart’s content.
  • The Case for Friction
    Intentionally adding friction to your writing environment can have revivifying effects on your prose, poetry, etc. We talk a little bit about why, and how to leverage this effect.
  • The Horror of the Open Door
    The open door can symbolize so much about how we understand the world, especially through horror films.
  • A Note on Perspective: Saint Maud
    A short note on how Saint Maud (Rose Glass, 2019) employs perspective for its title character.
  • Things to believe in
    A short manifesto for writers.

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