This might be an unpopular opinion, but James Cameron’s Aliens is my favorite film of the franchise. I watched it when I was a teen, and I was enamored by this team of Colonial Marines going fearlessly into battle with Pulse Rifles and Steadicam Machineguns.

Years later, I’ve come to realize that this film has inspired me in more ways than just screenwriting techniques and dropping cool-sounding quotes like "Now all we need is a deck of cards." …

Movie reviews are an easy first step towards professional writing. When I was a magazine editor, I let a lot of first-timers try their hand at movie reviews as a test.

But sadly, I’ve also had to edit a lot of movie reviews that failed to do that one key task every movie review is meant to do: help the reader decide if the movie is worth watching.

However, it’s an easy fix, and you can write a compelling movie review by following three easy steps!

Start from the End

The most important step towards a better movie review is to figure out the…

When I was 18 or 19, I read a Syd Field book and instantly fell in love with the concept of the 3-act structure and properly plotting out your story. Since then, this ideal has dominated all my creative endeavors.

My writing always follows a structured plan, be it a screenplay, press release or magazine article. Recently, my blog posts are now plotted out using headers as chapter guides*.

When I was young and copying out drawings from comics, I’d draw a character’s eyes first and then draw outwards from there. …

When I was working at Carousell, I did a lot of research into this tidying guru named Marie Kondo. You might have heard of her and the KonMari method of tidying before.

KonMari might write a lot of weird stuff about talking to your clothes and touching stuff to see if they “spark joy” but there is a lot of truth in her method. If you keep your life tidy, you’re able to focus on the things you really want out of life.

And I’ve come to learn that this isn’t exclusive to clothes and old books; it works for…

Modern social media tips from an ancient Greek philosopher

Since the beginning of time, brands have been confounded by social content strategy. What do my customers want to read? How do I effectively market my products to a generation with no attention span?

Unfortunately, a lot of content strategists love to spout buzzwords like virality, engagement potential, and the Internet of Things.

I get it: nobody likes buzzwords, so here I am to explain the same concepts using the irrefutable wisdom of ancient Greece dressed up in millennial slang.

I am Aristotle, and I was a student of Plato until he died in 347 BC. I’ve extensively researched the…

And 5 ways you can get around it

We all know the feeling: you’re sitting there at your computer and your fingers are poised above your keyboard but the words just aren’t flowing out.

I first encountered writer’s block when I was a junior writer at a film magazine. The reviews editor, a guy whose job was pretty much just watching movies and reviewing them, would frequently tug at his disgusting ponytail and declare “Argh! I have writer’s block. Drew, write this sidebar for me.”

After a while, the art team started approaching me directly to add sidebar and other copy.

Writer’s block is real, but is it…

Will the search for the perfect metric lead you away from the answers you really want?

Numbers are good. Numbers quantify and help you measure all kinds of things.

Does Adam have more apples than Eve? Is Sherwin taller than Gerald? Can the Xbox One X render the same scene in 4k resolution at higher frame rates than the PS4 Pro?

Image source: The Hangover

But can numbers measure everything? To bring Gerald and Sherwin back, can we measure who is better looking between them? Are either of them above the benchmark to be considered good looking in the first place?

Which brings me to social media. There are so many metrics available, but do we really know what we’re…

What can a writer do for your product team, and how do you find a good one?

Throughout history, mankind has been plagued by burning questions like “What is the meaning of life?”, “What life exists beyond the stars?”, and “Do I really need a product writer?”

The first two are yet to be answered, but the third is a definite “fuck yes!” shouted out loud like an overzealous porn star.

Imagine this guy on your product team

What does a writer do for your product team? Some of the major benefits I’ve noticed include:

  • Improved creativity and user experience
  • Increased language alignment between different sprint teams
  • Increased alignment between product, comms, customer experience

More than just a proofreader

When working closely with the product teams, a product comms…

Content calendars are great tools for planning content and keep a content team aligned. Given a nice color scheme and layout, they can also be something really nice to share with a client or stakeholders. So let’s make one!

I remember in the old days of old adventure games like Space Quest and Monkey Island, they had these guides called walkthroughs to help people through the puzzles of the game. Walkthroughs were presented in a step by step format, and if you just followed the instructions you will complete the game without a hitch.

So that’s how I’m going to…

Content strategy. What is it? Google it and you’ll find a myriad of definitions involving terms like planning, process, phasing, and maybe even aggregation (that word is 18 base points in Scrabble). It can be a bit incomprehensible and confusing for the average person.

I’m going to try something different and explain content strategy using something equally incomprehensible to the average person: competitive StarCraft tactics.

Why? No reason… I just like StarCraft, and I figure the StarCraft and content strategy SEO space probably isn’t hotly contested.

My definition of content strategy is making sure that all the content you produce…

Drew Pan

I help brands plan their content, and I have a ridiculous need to use an insane amount of pop culture references in my decks.

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