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”
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.