My guest for today’s podcast is Pat Verducci. She is an experienced writing coach and story consultant. In her long and illustrious career, Pat has written and directed a film, penned scripts for Touchstone Pictures and has worked as a story consultant for Pixar. She has also been teaching screenwriting for past ten years at the University of California.
There are different paths you can follow to become a writer. Pat was a theater geek in high school, participated in every play, loved reading books and loved doing theater. Pat ended up getting an undergraduate degree in theater and communication but realized very soon it was going to be difficult to make a living working in theater. A part of her always loved to film so she applied to film school and went to the University of California and enrolled in their directing program. An important part of the directing program was to learn about screenwriting and looking at films as an art form from an intellectual perspective. Pat’s favorite classes were screenwriting classes where she got her first taste of being a screenwriter. She graduated from film school, found a job at ABC News and worked there for a while. She was a desk assistant, and had weird job hours and worked late at night so she had plenty of time to write in the morning. She could focus on writing scripts, and that is how she started writing a script that would one day be translated into a film. She ended up writing a feature script that was eventually purchased by a production company. She would then go on and direct a movie for that script which starred Alicia Silverstone. She thought she wanted to be a director who could write as well. But when she had kids, Pat realized directing stuff demanded a lot of time and it was difficult for her to manage so she focused more on writing. In the meantime, she also started to teach screenwriting.
What movies have you directed or been a part of?
Pat has only directed one feature film which is a 1995 film called ‘True Crime’ and it stars Alicia Silverstone and Kevin Dillon in the lead roles. However, she has written scripts for Touchstone Pictures, Disney animation division and also worked as a story consultant for Disney Pixar where she worked with their filmmakers and writers on stories and characters.
What is the Hero’s journey and what does it mean?
The Hero’s Journey is a pattern of narrative identified by Joseph Campbell who was a mythologist and ended up studying myth and fairytales, going all the way back to ancient times and reading all the stories that were written in present time. He discovered that all the stories are same, details are different but the structure is same for all stories. He called it The Hero’s Journey. He was an academic and identified this pattern. There have been amazing people to come after Joseph Campbell. A guy named Christopher Vogler wrote a book called ‘The Writer’s Journey’ and translated the academic discussion of the hero’s journey into his book.
What are the 12 phases of Hero’s journey?
1) Hero starts in an ordinary world which is his safe place. He is oblivious of the adventures to come.
2) In this phase, the hero receives a call to the adventure where the hero ultimately must step out of his comfort zone.
3) In this phase, the hero refuses for the call/challenge. It is either emotionally or physically dangerous to the character
4) In this phase, a turn of events takes place as the hero decides to act. Usually, a hero meets a mentor who helps him overcome his doubts and fear.
5) In this phase, the hero now crosses the threshold and commits to the adventure. It means the hero has stepped out of the ordinary world to special world.
6) In the special world, the hero faces all sorts of troubles and tests, he must identify who can be trusted, who is the friend and who is an enemy.
7) What the hero want is so special that he now must enter the inmost cave that can reflect an inner conflict or some location where lies great trouble for the hero.
8) This phase is a supreme ordeal for the hero, a physical test or a deep inner crisis. The hero has to overcome all odds to safeguard his existence.
9) The hero emerges victorious from the ordeal and in the process, transforms his personality into a new state becoming a stronger person.
10) Now the hero has to return back to the original world but he has yet to face his final encounter.
11) In this phase, the hero faces his last encounter, a confrontation with the biggest enemy, the results of which are far greater than the hero’s own existence. Ultimately the hero succeeds, destroys the enemy and returns to the original world.
12) This is the final stage where the hero returns to the original world, completely transformed and reborn.
What do you usually write about?
Right from the start of her career, Pat has had a deep obsession with true crime genre. Her first big script and the film leading to the script was also based on the same concept of true crime. Now, Pat is writing a novel that is also crime oriented.
What has been the highest point of your career as a writer?
The moment she realized she was working for Pixar animation studio has been the highest point of her career. She could hardly believe she was in the same room with the creative team of the studio, and that she was collaborating with the filmmakers, and making stories better. Pat says she never even dreamt of being a part of that process and feels lucky every day that she was a part of it.
What does living your purpose mean to you?
Living her purpose means doing what she loves and doing it every single day. Pat says we should pay attention to what lights us up and then make plans to make a career out of it. Acting every day to make it happen is important.
What is the best advice you have been given?
The best advice she has been given is to start before you’re ready. To act every day and not worry about the results or think of not making enough plans to take an action.
How can we connect with you?
You can know more about her on her website. Her website’s URL is
She also has a blog section on her website.