In October 2013, ten writers from across the United States and Canada converged at The Writers Junction in Santa Monica for a 4-Day Quest Writing Workshop with me as their host and teacher. It was a remarkable weekend, so much so I held another workshop in Santa Monica in March 2014 with ten more writers from the United States, Canada and Australia. Same amazing results.
* The learning that went on as we immersed ourselves in character-based screenwriting was palpable, insights and revelations throughout each session, a cumulative theoretical take on the craft that resonated with all of the participants.
* Each writer put that theory into practice on their own stories, a series of writing exercises that not only provided them with a proven approach to prep-writing, it also enabled attendees to make significant progress on their stories.
* The actual workshop process whereby everyone embraced the idea of constructive critique, honest assessment plus brainstorming suggestions, resulted in one key creative breakthrough after another.
Here are a few observations from some of the writers involved in the Quest Writing Workshops:
“I’ve taken many courses (both academic and recreational), and the workshop was just an excellent combination of practical knowledge mixed with personalized attention.” — Pat Suh
“The Workshop time was unbelievable; your ability to foster such a positive, encouraging environment for the exchange of ideas is the reason it worked. Every single person grew their story from a loose idea into something that resonated deeply with the group.” — Jonathan Barger
“Thank you again for gathering together such an interesting, diverse group of aspiring screenwriters and providing us all with such a wonderful shared learning and networking experience!” — Melanie McDonald
“As an advertising writer I’ve been in a million brainstorms. But Scott’s classes are special. They’re more like braincyclones, where we generated a mass of powerful ideas that elevated our stories into places that surprised and delighted us all.” — Matt Sherring
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Scott and the other participants in the inaugural Quest Writers’ Workshop. There was a palpable electricity in the air while we worked, the kind you wish you could bottle up to take a drag from whenever you need to be inspired.” — Lisa Meacham
“Thank you again for a great workshop, the results far exceeded my expectations. I can’t believe how far my story came in just a few days. The four-day course literally saved me months of planning!” —- Louise Baxter
“Scott is a fantastic teacher, and the energy amongst the Questers was palpable! Never have I been in such a positive creative environment in which everyone was genuinely interested in helping one another.” — Sarah Grimes
“I’m not trying to blow sunshine up your skirt when I say I got more out of those four days than I did all of grad school.” — Michelle Burleson
Here is an overview of our four days together:
Thursday: We began by digging into the first of three sections of the Core curriculum: Character. Then we workshopped character treatments for the Protagonist from each writer’s story. Finally we went through a host of brainstorming exercises to compelling participants to explore their respective stories. Focus: Brainstorming.
Friday: We interwove theory and practice, covering two other Core sections — Plot and Theme — as well as Prep exercises designed to help writers wrangle their stories, both in terms of the Plotline, events in the External World, and Themeline, movements in the Internal World, the realm of the story’s psychological and emotional journey. Focus: Subplots.
Saturday: We spent a majority of time workshopping stories, each writer exploring major Plotline points to construct the spine of their story’s narrative structure. Focus: Plotting.
Sunday: Again most of the focus was on workshopping stories, the writers learning the benefits of index cards as they fleshed out major plot and subplot elements, rounding them into shape toward a coherent, comprehensive outline. Focus: Outline.
After each day’s session, we carried on our conversations at local watering holes, a chance to dig more deeply into stories, socialize, and have a great deal of fun together.
In other words, we packed a whole hell of a lot into four days.
In addition, I created a private online site for workshop members where they introduced themselves before the weekend so we managed to hit the ground running, posted exercises and feedback during the four day session, and continued the process after our time together, moving on into first drafts. Indeed, many of the participants have finished their scripts and are using the principles and practices they learned in the Quest Writing Workshop on new projects.
After receiving universally positive response from participants, I have decided to reprise the 4-Day Quest Writing Workshop only this time in Chapel Hill, North Carolina: October 16-October 19, 2014.
Why Chapel Hill? First off, it’s where I currently live and if this proves to be a viable travel option, I can add more workshops to my schedule, enabling additional people to participate in what I believe is an incredible learning opportunity.
Also this: Chapel Hill is a lovely town, especially in October with its autumn leaves.
This is an image of one of the historic buildings on the campus of the University of North Carolina, the oldest public university in the country. The town and surrounding area ought to be bursting with color, affording us much in the way of visual stimulation for our creative efforts.
Moreover The Franklin Hotel, where we will hold the workshop, is located smack in the middle of Franklin Street, the main artery in downtown Chapel Hill, with literally dozens of wonderful eateries and shops within a few blocks, including perhaps my favorite libation center in the world The Crunkleton, where we will definitely spend time socializing after our daily sessions. The first round is on me!
If you want to make a real adventure out of your trip, Chapel Hill is centrally located: 2-3 hours from numerous points of interest including the Outer Banks and Atlantic Ocean, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Mountains, as well as beautiful, historical cities such as Charlottesville, Virginia to the north, and Charleston, South Carolina to the south.
If you have a story idea you believe is a strong one and you are passionate to write it…
If you like this blog and want more of the fundamentals of my approach to character based screenwriting…
If you want to learn a proven, professional approach to breaking a story in prep…
I encourage you to consider enrolling in my upcoming Quest Writing Workshop. There are currently rooms available in The Franklin Hotel and there are also a lot of other hotels to stay within 5 miles or so. Hardly any traffic, so getting to the Franklin is a snap, and parking for the workshop is complimentary. But act soon as UNC has a home football game on October 18, so hotels will be filling up in the next few weeks.
If you’d like more information, email me and I’ll be happy to forward you a workshop syllabus as well as answer any questions you may have. Or go here to sign up. Enrollment is limited: 10-12 writers, depending upon demand.
I look forward to the opportunity to work with you in this terrific workshop opportunity.