“The Quest”: What is it?

May 21st, 2012 by

I am pleased to announce “Go Into The Story: The Quest,” my attempt at creating a new pathway into Hollywood for aspiring screenwriters: A 24-week online screenwriting workshop which I will offer for free to as many as 4 writers. I introduced the idea in this post last week [if you haven't read it, please do so now], and I will be talking about this initiative each day this week on GITS at 6PM Eastern / 3PM Pacific to give readers a complete understanding of what it’s about. If you are interested to learn more, click here.

The Quest is an intensive 24-week online screenwriting workshop offered through Screenwriting Master Class. I have been beta testing a version of it with some private writer clients and safe to say, it works.

The workshop consists of three stages:

Core [8 weeks]: Participants learn essential screenwriting principles covering Plot, Concept, Character, Style, Dialogue, Scene, Theme, Time. There are 6 written lectures each week which post daily, then a writing exercise due Sunday to put the theory into practice. I wrote all 48 lectures amounting to over 250 pages of in-depth content and believe it to represent a new, cutting edge way to think about screenwriting.

The approach presented in Core is unique in these respects:

Coherent: Rather than a writer being forced to pick a bit of screenwriting theory from this guru or that, this educational resource or that, the Core content comes from a specific perspective – my own – based on over 25 years experience as a screenwriter and over 10 years as an educator. Every concept presented in Core is tied together by an overall philosophy about screenwriting, writing and creativity.

Comprehensive: The content presented in Core provides writers all the knowledge they need to have to be able to write a professional quality screenplay.

Character-based: Whereas so much of the conversation about screenwriting is focused on structure [and by 'structure' most people mean 'plot'], Core presents an approach that begins and ends with character. In my view, this is not only the best way for a writer to craft unique, compelling, and entertaining multidimensional characters, it’s also the most effective – and frankly logical – way to find your story’s plot.

For 8 weeks in Core, participants in The Quest are immersed in screenwriting theory. At the end of that time, they put their understanding of those essential principles to work writing an original screenplay of their own.

Prep [6 weeks]: Starting with an original concept, participants in The Quest develop it through a series of 6 weekly lectures and writing assignments, each building upon the other until they end up with a thorough outline of their story.

I have been teaching Prep at SMC since we launched in January 2011 and the course has proved to be extremely popular. It picks up on the theory laid out in Core and runs with it in a workshop environment. The six weeks lay out like this:

The first two weeks are about exploration, starting with the Protagonist and a series of key questions to help define some of the narrative’s fundamental elements, then a full week’s worth of brainstorming, three different ways to prompt the writer’s creativity and engage the story.

The next two weeks are about wrangling the narrative, the primary Plotline points that provide the spine of the plot, and the movements of the Themeline, the story’s emotional plot.

The final two weeks are about crafting the structure, scene by scene, sequence by sequence, subplot by subplot until the participant has a detailed outline.

Armed with their outline, the writer can approach the page-writing part of the process with confidence, primed to type FADE IN and go.

Pages [10 weeks]: Using their outline as a guide, participants pound out script pages through a series of 10 weekly lectures and writing assignments. Averaging about 10-15 pages per week, by the end of The Quest the writer has a complete first draft of their original screenplay.

Here, too, the process is founded on the principles presented in Core and put into use in Prep, all reflecting a character-based approach to screenwriting.

As noted, The Quest is a workshop and that means:

* Weekly writing exercises and assignments

* Detailed feedback on all exercises, assignments, and script pages

* Regular teleconferences

I have just started offering The Quest at Screenwriting Master Class on a private one-on-one basis. The “Go Into The Story: The Quest” initiative is the same content and schedule with a few differences detailed below.

What you need to know about “Go Into The Story: The Quest”

Cost: Free.

How many participants: Up to 4.

Who may apply: Any aspiring screenwriter who is not a member of the WGA or equivalent professional writing organization. Writers do not have to live in Los Angeles, and may be located in the United States or internationally based. Writers may be any age, gender, race, etc.

When will the workshop run: July 2-December 16, 2012.

How will I determine who gets accepted: There are three key standards. (1) Story concept: I am looking for strong story concepts that I believe when executed as a script can get set up as projects in Hollywood. In other words, I am almost exclusively interested in commercial high concepts. I will make exceptions if the story elements make me think the project is a marketable one, but the concept has to be extremely strong if it is not high concept. (2) Writing ability: I will ask applicants who make it past the first cut to send me a sample of their writing, as well as a detailed description of their background as a writer and a statement about why they want to be a screenwriter. (3) Personal interview: I will have a one-on-one conversation with applicants who make it past the next cut in order to assemble a group I feel will be compatible with each other.

How do you apply: A simple email with the word “Quest” in the subject line, then a logline of your story in the text. That is all I want, nothing else. “Quest”. Logline.

When may you apply: I will be accepting loglines beginning Tuesday, May 29, 2012. You may send them to me at: GITSblog at gmail dot com.

What is the submission deadline: Friday, June 8.

NOTE: I WILL NOT BE ACCEPTING ANY LOGLINE SUBMISSIONS BEFORE TUESDAY, MAY 29, 2012. PLEASE RESPECT THIS SCHEDULE!

If you are selected as one of the four participants, you must be willing to do the following three things:

1. You have to commit yourself fully to the workshop. That means active participation in constructive criticism and feedback, all writing exercises and assignments, and most importantly pledge you will finish the first draft of your original screenplay.

2. You have to write a weekly journal entry about your experiences in the workshop. As part of “Go Into The Story: The Quest,” I will be doing something akin to reality programming in that each week, I will post something on GITS about the group’s progress including excerpts from your journals. This is a great way for the GITS community to track how you are doing, something of what you are learning, see the ups and downs of the writing process, and so on. I may augment those weekly GITS posts with audio excerpts from our weekly teleconferences.

3. If you write a script I believe has strong marketable potential, I am attached as a producer. At that point, I will take you on into rewrites and we will officially be in producer-to-writer mode. Once your script is finished, I will take the lead in getting it to managers and agents, and try to get the project set up and you established in Hollywood.

There is much more to discuss, so I will be posting on the “Go Into The Story: The Quest” initiative each day this week through Friday at 6PM Eastern / 3PM Pacific. The topics of those posts:

Tuesday, May 22: Why is story concept critical to your success?

Wednesday, May 23: Why do you need to think in terms of genres?

Thursday, May 24: Why is your passion for your story important?

Friday, May 25: How should you write a logline?

If you want to apply for the “Go Into The Story: The Quest” initiative, make sure you read each of these posts. They reflect how I am approaching this both as a mentor and as a producer.

“Go Into The Story: The Quest” is my humble attempt to do what I can to create an alternate way into Hollywood for those outside the system, and in the process provide participants principles and practices that maximize their chances of success as a professional screenwriter.

If you have any questions — and I know you will — please post in comments. Only email me if you have some personal matter related to this initiative.

Onward and upward!

UPDATE: I was in such a hurry to post, I forgot one of the best parts. Every single person who applies for “Go Into The Story: The Quest” wins a free 1-week Craft course taught by me at Screenwriting Master Class. You can check out those classes here under the Curriculum / Craft tab.

82 thoughts on ““The Quest”: What is it?

  1. Can people submit existing script projects that need rewriting, or are you only interested in starting from scratch with writers?

    1. Scott says:

      Good question, SJ. You can submit a project that you have already written, however we will be approaching it from the ground floor up. In effect, you would be doing a Page 1 rewrite.

      1. That is exactly the same question I had and it is a huge relief. I can’t wait to apply :)

  2. Scott, this is awesome. Can’t wait to apply!

  3. I would like to be considered. Can I send the treatment I have written for consideration.

    Thanks, JF

    1. Scott says:

      JF, no treatments, no scripts, just a logline. I will be providing my take on what I look for in a logline later this week. Again no submissions until Tuesday, May 29.

  4. SirWeasel says:

    Scott,

    I’m so excited about this opportunity – thank you. I do have a question – commercial high concepts these days seem to be big budget FX oriented game or comic book properties. Is there room for my/a story that is a human drama?

    Cheers,

    Wes…

    1. Scott says:

      Wes, I will be going into this in detail in tomorrow and Wednesday’s GITS post about what I mean by ‘high concept,’ why genre is important, etc.

      Yes, it can be a drama. It just has to be compelling and feel like a movie that millions of people want to see. I don’t mean that as hyperbole, I mean can you imagine 5 or 10 million people buying tickets to see your movie?

      If it’s a drama, for it to work for purposes of this initiative, it would almost assuredly have to have several fantastic characters that could draw top talent, as well as a storyline that would resonate with a target audience.

      More tomorrow.

      1. SirWeasel says:

        Thanks Scott, I’ll be here tomorrow and the next day and the next…

        Wes…

  5. Sarah Grimes says:

    Hi Scott,

    Can we submit more than one logline in the e-mail to you?

    1. Scott says:

      Sarah, yes.

  6. Ammar Salmi says:

    “If … I am attached as a producer.” Scott, don’t you just throw stuff like that in your blog, they might be people with weak hearts reading the blog. And you may kill them. OMG! The possibility of having you attached as a produced is @##%#@@ amazing.

    One question: Do you have in mind a rough number how many logline you would choose at the first phase? Just so I can calculate my odds.

    1. Scott says:

      Ammar, I have no idea. It’s conceivable there may be NO loglines that make the first cut. I am going to be a really tough critic because I would be committing literally hundreds and hundreds of hours to this workshop. Besides there is no good reason to develop and write a mediocre story concept.

      Just ask yourself in all honesty: “Is this a movie?” Can you imagine it opening in 3,000 screens across the U.S.?

  7. Scott,
    I presume one logline per email. Is there a limit to the number of loglines one may submit?

    1. Scott says:

      pliny, more than one logline per email is fine. No limit. Just as I have said above, does it pass the “Is this a movie” sniff test.

  8. Debbie Moon says:

    What a fantastic opportunity – the chance to develop a script *and* to grow as a writer and share our work with other writers while doing so. Again, thank you so much for your generosity in offering this, and I look forward to seeing the results.

    Let battle (in the nicest possible sense) commence!

  9. Thanks so much for doing this, Scott. What can we submit as writing samples if we get to that point?

    1. Scott says:

      The best example of your writing. A short story. Treatment. But probably the best thing would be the first act of a script.

      I need to know a potential participant can write. See if they love language. Where they are in terms of screenplay style. Do they have a voice.

  10. Scott,

    Can a member of a writing duo participate in this — meaning, that person would be a part of the workshop and share that knowledge with his/her partner, and together they would craft the script? Or do you just want one person writing each script>

    1. Scott says:

      I would want the writing duo to participate. So by 4 writers, if there is a duo, we would have 5 writers. If all 4 writers were writing teams, we would have 8 writers.

      So your writing partner would have to make the same commitment as you.

  11. Perhaps this will be answered throughout the week in your posts, but I’m also interested in the multiple loglines question.

    I have three or four story ideas. Each of them is strong in different ways. Should I choose just one?

    1. Oops. Noticed it was answered above.

      1. Oh, wait! Another question: I know it says, “Quest.” Logline.

        But what if my title is practically a logline? No titles?

        1. Scott says:

          You can include the title with the logline. I will discuss that as part of the post on Friday.

  12. Amos Posner says:

    This is awesome.

    Hypothetically speaking, could someone apply if they’ve done one piece of this curriculum on the project already with you?

    1. Scott says:

      Yes, Amos. Anyone who has taken an SMC course can apply. No favoritism and if it was any of the Core classes, they would be repeating that content. But if it was Prep or Pages, since that is literally workshopping a story, a completely different experience.

  13. Ammar Salmi says:

    Another question what kind of writing sample you would request in the second phase? Short, feature or anything?

  14. Yossi Mandel says:

    While getting psyched up for The Quest, my balancing thought is that we all win here. That’s obvious with your update of a free class for all entrants, but even before this post it was there. Four more developed screenwriters means more well-written stories for all of us to read and watch, and your incredible gift will inspire others, beginning with the four finalists.

    Thinking along those lines, would it be possible to share all 4 final screenplays with the GITS community? If it included some sort of final note from each writer on what they think about their script’s development, even better, but at least that.

    1. Scott says:

      Making the final scripts available is an interesting thought, but that will depend upon the circumstances.

      Re the participants’ reactions: That’s what their journal entries are about, to share just a little bit each week about what they’ve learned, how their understanding of screenwriting is changing, what their experience is during Prep and Pages. Again as I said in the OP, hopefully a learning experience for everyone who follows The Quest over the course of 6 months.

    2. Would it be possible to share all 4 final screenplays with the GITS community?

      I think that should be a choice made by the individual writers. While I’m going to be applying for this, if entry was conditional on my screenplay being thrown out to the internet I wouldn’t apply.
      And no, it’s not because I’m concerned about it being stolen.

      1. Scott says:

        Good point. I think you’ve hit on a solution.

  15. Scott says:

    See response to Comment 9 above.

  16. It’s going to be fun to watch this all unfold over the next six months. I think there will be so much to learn and it makes the blog even more inspiring.

  17. BillieJeanVK says:

    I’m so glad you put the producer part in there. You deserve to get something out of this.
    Would you look at any of your chosen writer’s other projects with an eye on producing it?

    1. Scott says:

      Possibly with the writers who get selected. But am not interested in receiving any unsolicited material outside The Quest initiative.

  18. mommyfollows says:

    This is fantastic.

    What’s not fantastic is I’m not going to have any fingernails left after this week.

  19. Tommy Lee says:

    For the writing sample, can we submit a spec of a TV show?

    I feel like that would show my comedy writing chops better than a short story would.

    1. Tommy Lee says:

      Also can we do a follow up sentence for the logline like they would in a pitch, for instance…

      SAMPLE LOGLINE OF MOVIE (Die Hard on a boat or The Matrix meets The Fifth Element etc.)

      1. Scott says:

        Tommy, I will explain more on this in Friday’s post, but a good logline will say everything it needs to say to convey the story concept.

        Example: “Pursuing a drug kingpin, a stubborn cop gets a new partner: An equally stubborn police dog.”

        That’s the logline to K-9. Could I add “It’s 48 Hrs. meets Rin Tin Tin”? Yes, but the logline conveys what I need to know to be able to assess the story concept.

    2. Scott says:

      Yes, but only if I request a writing sample. The submission will a logline and title if you have one. That’s it for my first take on content sent to me.

  20. Holy Nuts, Scott. You are awesome. ’nuff said. Any questions I had were already asked and answered, so at this point it becomes a waiting game

  21. Ah, it’s fantastic to see so much excitement ripple throughout the GITS community.

    Just out of curiosity, will you have any help in judging the loglines? I only ask as I assume you’re going to be inundated with them (which is a good thing … probably).

    1. Scott says:

      I will personally review every logline submission.

  22. An extraordinary initiative. Especially after “The Disciple Program”, it is clear that new technologies and social networking are viable and worth-exploring story/script/talent wells. And this would be a great chance to develop a script with such an experienced mentoring. Thank you very much for this opportunity Scott, because it will be great even for those who get to follow the whole process. Good luck everybody!

  23. NichBoy says:

    This is the news my Monday was waiting for. And the fact that everyone gets a free craft class is wonderfully generous. Now to buckle down and log the hell out of my lines.

  24. Sam Favate says:

    With regard to permitting multiple loglines: Is it multiple loglines for the same story? Or are loglines for different stories acceptable in the same email?

    1. Scott says:

      One logline per story. I will present my ‘guidelines’ for loglines on Friday, what I look for.

  25. Trevor Hogg says:

    Looking forward to applying with the hopes of reinventing a screenplay which has fallen by the creative wayside.

    Appreciate you doing this Scott.

    1. Joe Sicora says:

      Hi Scott,

      Really looking forward to submitting for this. A question about round 2: about how long of a writing sample are you looking for?

      1. Scott says:

        If it’s a screenplay, at least Act One. A short story is fine. Even a treatment, depending on how the writer approaches it [not in outline form]. I’m looking for competency, voice and a fundamental love of language, at a bare minimum. Most of the other areas — plot, character, style, scene-writing, etc — I believe I can teach in Core, then work with writers during Prep and Pages.

  26. Between a short script and a short story, either is fine?

  27. Scott,

    You’ll be getting into this later in the week, I’m sure, but a quick question just the same…

    I have several Action/Thriller ideas, some set in the US, some set internationaly. In terms of a marketable high concept spec script, one that could potentially be bought, do you suggest only submitting the US-based loglines? In terms of budget, more likely chance of it getting made, etc…

    This is amazing, btw! What an incredible opportunity for everyone. You, SS, the Industry Insider Contest – many great new venues and bridges to Hollywood for aspiring writers these days. Very cool.

  28. Hello Scott,

    Thanks for offering this opportunity to the community.

    Regarding the “no WGA members” rule. I’ve yet to get a paying writing gig, so I’m a candidate member of the Writers Guild of Great Britain (details: http://bit.ly/KynAbu).

    Would be a candidate member (or its WGA equivalent, if there is one) be a bar to applying?

    - Richard

    1. Scott says:

      Richard, as long as you haven’t had a paying gig and aren’t officially a member of the WGGB, that’s okay by me.

  29. The other questions I meant to include in the previous post:

    Will you accept original, scripted TV projects (eg. writers have to complete an original pilot spec script and an series outline) or will it be just features?

    Also, are animated features acceptable?

    1. Scott says:

      Richard, just movie scripts. Animated features are not high on my priority list, but if it’s a great story, it’s worth a shot.

  30. Monique Mata says:

    Thanks for this opportunity, Scott!

    Did I miss it in the post, but what email should we be sending our loglines?

    1. Scott says:

      GITSblog at gmail dot com.

  31. Scott,

    Between US-based loglines and internationally-based loglines, which ones would you suggest have a better chance? Also, if we’re mulling around multiple titles per logline, would you accept multiples, or only one title per logline. Thanks! amazing apportunity…

    Jason

    1. Scott says:

      Jason, re U.S.-based vs. international stories: Hard to say. There’s the BRIC factor, Hwood pushing to expand markets in Brazil, Russia, India and China, so that could be a plus in terms of setting. But it really depends on the story. The location has to feel native to the story.

      Re loglines: I only want one version of a logline, not multiple versions. If you’re stuck between two or more possibilities for a logline, that suggests the writer needs to do more thinking about the story to get it clearer in their heads.

      I will post my take on loglines tomorrow.

      1. Scott, thanks so much for the response!

        Regarding multiples, I was wondering about multiple titles per logline, as opposed to multiple loglines per story. My concepts are clear, but I can mull titles for months and even years… so just in terms of submission, and at this early stage, would you rather see only one title, multiple title ideas, or perhaps no title at all?

        Thanks!

        Jason

  32. Scott, this is an amazing opportunity for writers. I’m going to apply but have zero screenwriting experience so far (I’m a playwright) so I’m not getting my hopes up. If this is successful, do you think you’d do it again?

    1. Scott says:

      Samantha, if it is successful, I was planning on trying it again, yes. But that all depends upon my workload, my own writing, etc.

  33. Are there any limitations on originality of the story? For example, would you accept a submission of a concept based very loosely off of a short story from 1953? Or are you looking for wholly original material?
    Thank you

    1. Scott says:

      Brandon, if you have secured the rights to the short story or if it’s in the public domain, that’s okay. Otherwise I’m looking for original content.

  34. Is this only for unrepped writers?

    1. Scott says:

      You can be repped, just not a member of the WGA [or equivalent].

  35. MadJones77 says:

    I’m a member of the Independent Writers Caucus of the WGAW. Can I participate? http://www.wga.org/subpage_writersresources.aspx?id=925

    1. Scott says:

      I’ve been a member of the WGA for a quarter-century and had NO idea this caucus existed. Sounds great. I did state that the line of demarcation is membership in the WGA and it doesn’t appear membership in the IWC constitutes membership in the WGA, so I would say yes, you could participate.

  36. adaddinsane says:

    Hi Scott

    I am a full member of the WGGB – but not for screenwriting, for being a writer of IT magazine content. I have yet to earn a penny from screenwriting.

    I know you have to draw the line somewhere – but could it be behind me, and not in front of me?

    Your hopefully (but understandingly) Steve

    1. Scott says:

      Steve, I will make an exception in your case because you have not made $$ writing movies or TV.

      1. adaddinsane says:

        Whoo-hoo! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

        (Logline here I come.)

  37. [...] at the Go Into The Story site and specifically these two posts about “The Quest” (“The Quest”: What is it?” AND “Go Into The Story: The Quest” — Submission Process”). Take a chance on yourself [...]

  38. Hi, how is the course carried out, if for example I live in australia? and is it a full time committment?

    1. Scott says:

      Nicole, it is an online platform. A majority of the work is what is known as ‘asynchronous,’ a fancy word for each participant can download lectures, read them, upload assignments, post comments and so forth on their own time. In bed. In your pajamas. That’s fine, too!

      There are weekly 75-90 minute teleconferences which are live, but I have worked with writers from all around the world, and we always manage to find a time convenient for everyone.

      There is a weekly schedule for reading and writing with a deadline, and I’m guessing it requires about 10-15 hours per week.

  39. 4450dawson says:

    Scott: I’m perplexed. if a writer’s writing is strong enough that you deem “marketable” yet by winning THE QUEST, he/she’d have to take a 24 week online course to learn a whole new set of writing exercises/philosophies that he/she may or may not be comfortable or totally in agreement with. Does anyone else have this issue besides me? Thanks. ( merely a question, not in any way disrespectful) :)

  40. 4450dawson says:

    Scott: (repost). My apologies. I’d mis-read your blog due to my own carlessness. A writing sample instead of a fully written script would be requested and developed with your guidance, now it makes sense. Best wishes and luck to all who enter, myself included. Thanks, Scott.

  41. Hi Scott, one more thing, can you submit more than one logline?

    1. Scott says:

      Yes, you may.

  42. [...] sales, I’ve also entered five “commercial” loglines I had lying around into a contest where four winners would have their work deconstructed and reconstructed by a working screenwriter [...]

  43. [...] loglines for submission into Scott Myers’ (of the Blacklist) The Quest contest! Read more here to find out what it’s all about. I’m obsessed with his breakdown and would love to be [...]

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