What exactly is Go On Your Own Quest?

July 17th, 2013 by

To make sure I don’t bury the lede, let me say up front:

Go On Your Own Quest is a free online resource
available to any writer
interested in developing and writing an original screenplay.

Details in a bit. First if you’re interested, hit More for some background.

It all begins with The Quest…

Since launching Screenwriting Master Class in January 2011, Tom Benedek and I have created dozens of online classes reflecting our five decades of professional experience as Hollywood screenwriters and educators.

About 18 months ago, I realized I had developed a unique approach to learning the craft: A 24-week program combining my take on character-based screenwriting with writing workshops where participants learn how to ‘break a story’ in prep, then pound out a first draft.

The Quest consists of three parts:

Core: Eight weeks covering the essential aspects of screenwriting: Plot, Concept, Character, Style, Dialogue, Scene, Theme, Time. 48 lectures [over 250 pages] written by me, weekly workshop exercises, and regular teleconferences with Scott as your private mentor.

Prep: Six weeks, six lectures, six writing assignments to develop one of your original stories from concept to outline, all lectures written by me, who also provides extensive one-on-one feedback on your writing assignments, plus teleconferences.

Pages: Ten weeks, ten lectures, ten writing assignments to pound out a first draft of your original screenplay, all lectures written by me, who also provides extensive script page notes, plus teleconferences.

Why do I call it The Quest? Because if your goal is to write a great script, to learn how to think and write like a professional screenwriter, to be equipped to succeed as a writer in Hollywood, you are on a quest. And this online program is for you.

I have offered The Quest as a private one-on-one arrangement with a select group of writers depending upon my work schedule. The response from writers who have participated in The Quest has been excellent including one who signed with a major Hollywood management company.

Then I had an idea…

In the spring of 2012, I went out for a run mulling over two questions which I discussed in this post from May 16 of last year:

First ever since Tom Benedek and I launched Screenwriting Master Class, I have been trying to figure out a way to open up that experience to as many people as possible. Based upon the curriculum we have created and the positive feedback from writers who have participated in classes there, I believe SMC is unique among online educational resources. But the courses do cost money. And every time someone emails me to say, “I wish I could take a class, but I just don’t have the resources,” that gnaws at me.

The second issue: How to create an alternate route into Hollywood for aspiring screenwriters, especially those of you who are outsiders [no industry connections]. I was a complete outsider to the movie business when I broke in, so my sensitivity to this issue is real and longstanding. Moreover it seems like every day I interface with someone who, lacking connections in Hollywood, expresses frustration about not knowing how to go about getting their foot in the door.

I have kicked around a lot of ideas over the last year, then a few months ago, I hit on something that struck me as being either brilliant — or totally nuts.

What was the idea? To solicit loglines from writers and select a small group to do The Quest with me for free. Which is what I announced here on May 21 last year.

Cut to a month later when I had received 3,500+ logline submissions from 1,500+ writers. Eventually I selected 8 “Questers”. We went through the 24-week process together and I continue to work with several of them on their scripts, getting them into shape to bring to market.

Then YOU had an idea…

Somewhere along the line, somebody suggested something like this: “Gee, wouldn’t it be great somehow for us to follow along with The Quest, so we could use it to write our own scripts?”

And I thought, “That’s a great idea.”

Which led to this: Go On Your Own Quest.

Last year while I worked with the Questers in private, I went through the entire 24 week process publicly via daily blog posts. While not sharing the actual Quest lectures, or writing tips and techniques available through The Quest, I did follow the same structure.

For instance in Week 1, while the Questers were studying Plot, that’s what we did here on the blog. In Week 2 when we moved onto Concept, so did we here on the blog.

And so on, week by week, through the eight weeks of Core theory, six weeks of Prep, and ten weeks of Pages.

Then you had ANOTHER idea…

During the run-up to Go On Your Own Quest, somebody suggested we should create an online message board where participants could share ideas, workshop their stories, critique script pages, and so forth.

And I thought, “That’s another good idea.”

That led to the GOYOQ Forums moderated by a terrific group headed by Shaula Evans. The site became such a success, Franklin and I decided to embrace it as this:

The Black Board: The Official Online Writing Community of the Black List and Go Into The Story.

Then I decided to do the whole thing one more time…

Which led to The Quest Initiative in 2013. This is Week 1 of the 24-week period with a new group of Questers. And once again, you can Go On Your Own Quest. How?

* I encourage you for the next 8 weeks to stop by the blog to immerse yourself in an ongoing conversation about screenwriting theory focusing on eight subject areas: Plot, Concept, Character, Style, Dialogue, Scene, Theme, Time.

* During this 8 week period, work on your story concepts with a goal of coming up with the very best one, something that is commercially viable and for which you have passion to write. One great thing you can do is join The Black Board where you can test out story ideas, even workshop your loglines for peer review.

* After we work through screenwriting theory, we will go through 6 weeks where you develop your story. Again this mirrors what the Questers will be doing. While you won’t be privy to the specifics of my Prep: From Concept To Outline workshop, we will dig into a variety of subject areas related to prep-writing, and provide a structure for you to make progress on your story.

* Once again, you can use The Black Board as an online community within which to develop your story.

* Finally we move into a 10 week period in which the Questers will be jamming through a first draft. You can follow that same set of deadlines — script pages due every Sunday — to spur you through the first draft process. As we will have been doing all along, I will be posting daily items related to writing to both inform and inspire GOYOQ participants.

* And yes, you can use The Black Board during Pages, yet another way to motivate you through the first draft.

Here is the schedule:

July 15: The Quest begins! Core [Theory]: 8 weeks.

September 9: Prep: 6 weeks.

October 21: Pages: 10 weeks.

December 29: The Quest ends!

So the bottom line is…

You have no excuse.

If you have a story you have been itching to write…

If you started a script once, but got lost in the middle and quit…

If you have never written a screenplay because you’re afraid you won’t make it to FADE OUT…

This may be your best chance to do what you need to do: Get that first draft done!

We provide a structure. Daily blog posts to keep you focused. An ongoing conversation about the craft to feed your development as a screenwriter. An online writing community, both here and at The Black Board, to inspire and inform.

And it’s all free!

Why am I doing this…

Several reasons.

First, I was a Hollywood outsider when I wrote and sold a spec script in 1987. I have always been thankful for that opportunity in large part because I love movies and I love screenwriting, so I have always had a default connection to aspiring writers. Frankly that’s one of the primary motivations for starting this blog. So GOYOQ is a way to provide support to writers who may not have had the chance to go to film school or may live thousands of miles away from Los Angeles.

Second, I see GOYOQ as a logical extension of what I do on the blog.

Third, I want to do anything I can to expand the mix of writers in Hollywood. More Voices, Better Movies. Very much in the spirit of the Black List.

Finally even though it takes time and effort, and may seem entirely counterintuitive in that I’m essentially giving away a shit-ton of content for free, my gut tells me to do it.

By nature, I am a ‘spiritual’ person. I get turned on by creativity. I believe in the power of putting positive energy out to the Universe. For all I know, everything that’s been going on with this blog and related initiatives for the last 5+ years could all be about inspiring one specific writer out there who could become the next Billy Wilder or Stanley Kubrick.

From that perspective, how could I do anything else but create this opportunity?

So there you have it, pretty much all you need to know about Go On Your Own Quest.

If you have any questions, please post them in comments.



5 thoughts on “What exactly is Go On Your Own Quest?

  1. Shaula Evans says:

    Thank you for writing this up, Scott. It’s great to have signposts for how GOYOQ will unfold.

    I have pointed the Questers at the Black Board at it and I’m bookmarking as a handy reference.

    > During the run-up to Go On Your Own Quest, somebody suggested we should create an online message board where participants could share ideas, workshop their stories, critique script pages, and so forth.

    If you check the comments on old posts, that was me. And was I ever thrilled when you took me up on it. :)

  2. TorchyBlane says:

    This is a wonderful thing that you’re doing, Scott! I certainly appreciate it.


  3. Martin Coles says:

    I can’t thank you enough for what you are doing here Scott. I only stumbled a across GOYOQ a few days ago via (I think) a tweet of yours but it is already looking promising and I hope to ats th twenty four weeks.

    As for the blackboard: Wow! Just wow!

    Again, I do not enough praise for Shaula and the mods over there. The amount of (very useful) resources and the advice from like minded individuals is priceless.

    Anyone that is reading this and is unsure about participating in the quest, I would highly recommend you subscribe to Scott’s posts and visit the forums at the very least!

    And no, I am not an affiliate or anything similar, just a wannabe writer who fell into this gold mine.

  4. Erica R Maier says:

    Can’t thank you enough for all your do, Scott! Looking forward to pounding out a draft …

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