Jason Zabel on Writing Plays and Working at the A.V. Club
Merry Christmas! For the occasion, I asked my BFF Jason Zabel to be on the show. Jason is one of my favorite writers I know – he’s super funny, absurd and has a keen eye. We met on the high school debate team and now work together at Zeus Jones. When he’s not working on marketing stuffs, he’s making amazing plays with his husband, director Scotty Gunderson. He stopped by and we talked super serious about literature and writing. He also burped a lot.
Oh gosh. This might be embarrassing. Or maybe not. I think it was The World According to Garp. It was like watching a smart R-rated movie! I should re-read it and see how terrible/good it is.
What authors are you into now vs. high school?
I think in high school I was more into folks like Augusten Burroughs or David Sedaris–weird gay dudes like me. I still think they’re good, but now my favs are folks like David Rakoff, Haruki Murakami, George Saunders, Peter Heller and Leslie Jamison.
What tips do you have for people who want to try writing a play or screenplay?
Don’t worry about formatting at first. Just forget about that and start writing your story. I think this is good advice for writing in any medium. I like to write out scenes in a stream of conscious kind of way, in paragraph form, knowing that I’ll be going back to expand and restructure. Same thing with dialogue. I just get it all out and go back to format later.
What have you learned from marketing that has made you a better creative writer?
Audience matters. I think when I was younger I didn’t care about who my audience was. I now care about who I’m writing for and how they’re going to consume it. They don’t teach you that in writing workshops, which is hilarious to me in retrospect. Is the assumption that we’re all writing great literary works? Because that’s not the reality.