359: Trust, Threat, and Truth: A Journey Through the Craft of Writing – Interview with Jeff Arch

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Arch.

Jeff grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he spent two of his high school years at a boarding school much like the one depicted in his debut novel Attachments, which we’ll be discussing today.

In the ’70s, he studied film/tv/theater production at Emerson College in Boston and then moved to LA, where he worked as a concert lighting designer and toured the country with national rock and reggae acts while teaching himself to write screenplays on the side.

Years later, he was teaching high school English and running a martial arts school when heard the call to write again. In 1989, he sold the school he’d built, rented a small office, and gave himself one year to write three screenplays. 

The second of those―a quirky romantic comedy where the two lovers don’t even meet until the very last page―sold almost immediately, and Sleepless in Seattle became a surprise megahit worldwide. 

For his screenplay, Jeff was nominated for an Oscar, as well as for Writers Guild and BAFTA awards, among others. His other credits include the Disney adventure film Iron Will, New Line’s romantic comedy Sealed With a Kiss, and the independent comedy Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys. His script for Saving Milly, based on Mort Kondracke’s searing memoir, earned the 2005 Humanitas Nomination, an honor he treasures. 

Jeff is a father, stepfather, father-in-law, and grandfather and is based in Malibu.


In this episode Jeff and I discuss:

  • His method for moving characters with their own agendas through the plot.
  • How to avoid the dreaded info dump and his advice for what to do instead.
  • Why you shouldn’t focus on the theme, but should worry about the story instead.


Plus, his #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/359

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