Paul Thomas Anderson tells Terry Gross about the first scene he wrote for The Master:

Well, it’s inspired by the actual questionnaire that’s out there as relates to Scientology, but I had changed it and switched it around. And I came to that many years ago, and actually found it was a great way to just start writing. Forget any implications of making a film or story about this — it was really just writer’s block and sitting around. The best way for me to start writing a story is to get two characters talking to each other. And if you got questions from one, you’re gonna have to get answers from the other, and you can start to find out who is coming out of you when you’re writing, if you know what I mean.

So I just started doing it as an exercise, and that’s probably one of the scenes that I wrote first in the movie … working from the middle. But I wrote that years and years ago. [I] didn’t really know who these people were, so I just started discovering who they were by what their answers would be.

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