By now, most of you know I have accepted an offer to become an assistant professor at the School of Cinematic Arts at DePaul University. In the near term that means…
The Prep: From Concept to Outline workshop which begins August 8 is the last time I will teach this class until summer 2017.
If you’ve ever thought about working with me in this unique workshop which I created and have taught with great success over the last 5+ years, this is the time.
I love teaching it because I find it exciting to dig into a new batch of stories and because the process we use can have a transformational effect on writers, which is a wonderful thing to behold. For example, here is an email sent to me from Dawn LeFever who worked with me in the Prep workshop in October-November 2014:
Hey Scott –
Hope you and your family are well. I know you are about to begin another prep course and I thought I’d give you a little insight you might want to share with your new students.
Since taking the course last year at this time, I not only wrote the script I prepped in class, but have written three more since then, having just completed the first draft of the third one yesterday. I LOVE this process and it feels really organic to me.
Every time I begin a new project, I pull out my notebook with the reading assignments and work through the process just as we did in class. I sort of begin the brainstorming list from day one and just add to it whenever anything comes to me while working through the process. I also use note cards before going to outline because it helps me with pacing.
Then, when I’m writing, I have both my script and my outline on my screen and just write away, checking back at the outline to stay on track. More than a few times, as I’m writing, I think about a line of dialog or an action and then look back at my outline and realize what I have in the outline is much better than what was occurring to me in the moment.
At other times, while writing, I will find ways to weave moments in the script that foreshadow what happens later, because I know what’s coming thanks to the thorough prep process.
In other words, as you say, I do truly break the story in prep, which makes the writing so much easier and (hopefully) deeper and richer. I easily knock out 10 pages a day with this process.
I know there are as many different ways to approach writing as there are writers, but, for me, your process makes everything click and, even more, allows me to get really excited to finally sit down and write.
In the past year, I have had some encouraging responses – I was in the top 15% of the Nicholl Fellowship screenplays and was in the top 50 for the ISA Fast Track Fellowship. I made the quarter finals for the Screencrafting Comedy Competition with two scripts (One of them a rewritten version of Smoker’s Choice).
So… forging ahead and having a blast!
Thanks again for everything and tell the folks IT WORKS!!!
All the best,
When Tom Benedek and I launched Screenwriting Master Class over 5 years ago, the very first course I created was Prep: From Concept to Outline. Why? Because no one else was teaching story prep for screenwriting. That struck me as crazy because most professional screenwriters I know and all TV writers break their story in prep.
Since 2010, I have led over 20 online sessions of Prep and worked privately with dozens of writers. The response has been almost universally like the sentiments expressed by Dawn above.
I literally tell writers at the beginning of every Prep workshop: “If you do the work… it works.”
In fact, Christian Contreras whose script “LAbyrinth” made the 2015 Black List is a Screenwriting Master Class alumnus, having taken this same Prep class with me back in 2014. Verity Colquhoun, an Australian writer who did a private one-on-one version of my Prep class in 2011, let me know the script she wrote (“Wonderful Unknown”) just landed a director and is slated to go into production this fall. And just last week, David Broyles, who participated in the very first Prep workshop I led back in 2010, was named as one of 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2016 by the Austin Film Festival. I emailed David to congratulate him. He sent back a note with this comment about Prep: From Concept to Outline: “I loved that workshop!”
It’s not magic. It’s just a proven, professional approach to develop your story, stage by stage, from concept all the way to outline, beat sheet, or treatment, whichever you prefer.
Consider joining my next session of Prep. But whether you take a class with me or not, it’s imperative you learn some sort of approach to story prep.
Can you imagine routinely writing 10 pages per day? Can you imagine being able to write 3 full-length screenplays in a year? Can you imagine actually enjoying the page-writing process?
As Dawn suggests, all of that can happen if you wrangle your story before you type FADE IN.
To check out the Prep: From Concept to Outline workshop which begins August 8, go here.
Remember: This is the last time I will be offering a session of this workshop until summer 2017.