How To Use Google As Your Research Assistant

A Screenwriting Minute With Jurgen Wolff

If you already know the topic of a screenplay that you intend to write, start your research ahead of time. A great way to do this is to set up a Google Alert for relevant topics.

Once a day (or another frequency you choose), Google will email you a list of sources of information on that topic. These will be links to news articles, blog posts, press releases, and more. Don’t read them now, just put that notification into a folder on your email system.

For instance, let’s say that you are going to write a script about somebody who is humiliated on a talent show and the effect it has on his or her life. You could set up Google Alerts for “X Factor” or “America’s Got Talent” or “Britain’s Got Talent,” and “musical auditions,” and “rejection” and probably a few more.

When you get ready to devote more time to that project you can go through all these notices. Even just the titles might give you some good ideas for scenes or characters.

You can read the information that seems most relevant and add that to your research, and use those leads to dig up more. Instead of being the usual source of distraction, Google does  the legwork for you while you’re doing something else.

(Jurgen Wolff’s screenwriting blog is at, where you can sign up for his free monthly Brainstorm creativity e-bulletin. His most recent books are Your Creative Writing Masterclass and Your Writing Coach, both published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon and other booksellers.)



Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, and creativity consultant. In the United States, he wrote for sitcoms including Benson and Family Ties. He wrote the feature film, The Real Howard Spitz, starring Kelsey Grammer and directed by Vadim Jean. He was a script doctor on the hit film, Mannequin and others starring Michael Caine, Walter Matthau, and Eddie Murphy. For Germany, he co-created the comedy series, Lukas, which ran for 65 episodes, and an original comedy series called Krista. He also wrote nine episodes of the series, Relic Hunter. He wrote two TV movies for the Olsen Twins, and several the German TV movies including, On Top of the Volcano, starring Maria Schrader and Sebastian Koch (2007). His play, Killing Mother, was produced at the Gorky Theatre in Berlin, and he’s also had plays produced in New York, Los Angeles, and London.

As a writing and creativity teacher, his courses include Beyond Brainstorming, Create Your Future, The Creative Breakthrough Workshop and the ground-breaking Script Coach Series developed exclusively for Raindance. He has presented his courses at the University of Southern California, the University of Barcelona, the Skyros Institute, many films schools, and groups and organisations including The Academy for Chief Executives, Egmont, Grundy-UFA, and Columbia-Tri-Star. For eight years he was a visiting lecturer for the Pilots Program in Sitges.

His books include Your Writing Coach and Your Creative Writing Masterclass (Nicholas Brealey Publishing), Creativity Now (Pearson), Do Something Different (Virgin Business Books), Successful Scriptwriting (Writers Digest Press), Top Secrets: Screenwriting (Lone Eagle Press), and Successful Sitcom Writing (St. Martin’s Press).

He has written for many publications including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Broadcast Magazine, and he is the editor of Brainstorm, the creativity ebulletin.