The Mysteries of Writing Dialogue

September 12th, 2016 by

There are many intangibles about the craft of screenwriting. Much of that derives from the fact that story itself is organic. Stories — good ones, at least — are not formulas. They are not widgets. Rather they are living, breathing entities with a heart, soul, and even will of their own. They slip and slide as we develop and write them, creating a series of challenges as we try our best to solve their mysteries.

Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than with dialogue. When I pose the question, “How do you write dialogue” to professional screenwriters, the most common response is basically this: I don’t know. They just do.

Common advice as to how to learn to write good dialogue:

* Listen to real-life conversations to get a sense of how people talk.

* Read scripts and watch movies – or better yet listen to moviesin order to grasp the feel and flow of film characters talking.

* Simply keep writing, that the more you pound out pages and knock out original screenplays, you will develop your ear for dialogue.

All of those are reasonable points. But aren’t there principles and practices we can learn to help bring into focus a writer’s ability to craft compelling, entertaining and effective dialogue?

That was my thinking when I sat down to create the fifth class in the Core curriculum – Core V: Dialogue.

As with everything I teach about screenwriting, it starts with character. Isn’t it obvious the more you know and understand about your story’s characters, the more likely their respective voices will emerge into your consciousness?

Beyond that, it’s not just about hearing them, it’s about choosing the most impactful dialogue to support the point of each scene and drive the plot forward.

Hence the fifth Essential Screenwriting Principle: Dialogue = Purpose.

In a screenplay, there is almost zero room for extraneous dialogue, rather every line should tie into the Plotline and/or Themeline.

In Core V: Dialogue, we dig deep into this subject through 6 lectures I have written:

Lecture 1: Introduction to Dialogue
Lecture 2: Finding Your Character’s Voice – Inward Journey
Lecture 3: Finding Your Character’s Voice – Outward Expression
Lecture 4: Subtext
Lecture 5: What Is Not Said
Lecture 6: Realistic Dialogue

In addition there are several Insider Tips, analysis of several movie scripts, opportunities to workshop dialogue in some of your own original scenes, a 75-minute teleconference, and much more.

A testimonial from a writer:

“Scott is so generous with sharing his knowledge and it’s a great blessing to those of us who are just starting off/been doing it for years/need a reminder/need inspiration. I just completed the Core Dialogue course and I can honestly say he delivers back your investment threefold.” — Sabina Giado

There is no right way to write. Every writer is different. Every story is different. And you can learn everything you need to know about the craft of screenwriting by doing three things: Watch movies. Read scripts. Write pages.

However if you want to explore the subject of dialogue in an immersive fashion and from a distinct character-based perspective, I invite you to join me for this 1-week online class which begins Monday, September 19.

For more information, go here.

Writing a First Draft: Enjoy the Process???

September 6th, 2016 by

A guest post from Tom Benedek, screenwriter (Cocoon) and co-founder of Screenwriting Master Class:


How to write a script? “Now? Me?”

And enjoy it? “Huh?”

“I need to commit to getting the draft done. Once I am writing pages, I keep the faith until finishing the draft. Sometimes I am reluctant to get started because I dread ending up with less than I dreamed it would be.”

Could this writer ever know what they really have unless they write that first draft?


Work on the outline. For a while. Then start writing pages. Maybe play with the outline a bit along the way. But write the pages. Now.

Because no one knows what those pages will be until they are written. The unconscious tapped during the writing process plays by its own rules. That idea, that logline or outline may be the golden path to something extraordinary.

That is why creative work is exciting. Fun. The ultimate adventure (for screenwriters).


  • Finish an outline that is good enough. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect/measured out.
  • Make a writing schedule.
  • Sit down with your writing instrument of choice at those times. And write pages – your next script.


“I am so much like Script Writer #2”.

“Personally, I have a lot on my plate right now. But I have had an outline, a beat sheet of sorts and all kinds of notes on my laptop, my desktop, in Dropbox for a couple of years.”

“So I decided that no matter what else is going on in my life, I’m going to write 4 pages a day 5 days a week to see what this thing really is. I see the idea more clearly now, as a genre film. I am not going to lose any of the idiosyncrasies I love, BUT I am going to adhere to the rules of its genre form. So my agent will read it and maybe try to sell it.”

“I didn’t see this project as a genre film for a long time. After percolating it, I finally realized what I was dealing with. And now — no other way to see what I have until I write it. So I have to write pages. Now.”


  • I, Tom Benedek, am Screenwriter #3.
  • I have no excuses for not writing this script.
  • I will write a first draft now.
  • I will enjoy it.

Anything is possible. “Nobody knows anything.” You will never have your breakthrough script unless you write it.

My upcoming Pages I: Writing the First Draft online workshop at starts next week: September 12. Join me for the next chapter in your creative adventure!

80% of the writers who take the Pages I workshop at Screenwriting Master Class finish a first draft within the 10 week time period of the course. And 90% get to FADE OUT within a few additional weeks.

How is this program so successful? Writers have a structure and weekly due dates to motivate them. There is a combination of expectations and support from fellow writers participating in the workshop. And perhaps most significantly, the instructors – Tom or myself – provide extensive feedback along the way, everything from script page notes to suggestions to moral support.

To learn more about the Pages I: Writing the First Draft online workshop, go here.

Networking Hollywood

August 23rd, 2016 by

A guest post from Tom Benedek, longtime screenwriter (Cocoon) and co-founder of Screenwriting Master Class:


“I am a natural enthusiast. An optimist. I love to imagine out my script projects. I savor my writing time. I enjoy rewriting. I love blank pages. And the smell of warm script pages fresh out of the printer. But when it comes to selling my work — honestly, I would much rather move on to another writing project. And, too often, I don’t ‘feel like’ actively selling my script out there. To anyone. ”

Should this writer spend 15% of their “writing time” on marketing?


Should this writer always dream that the person who is willing to hear about their script may lead to a positive outcome somewhere, somehow?


Should this writer do research to target the right buyers, managers, producers for their project?


Computer Beach


  • Learn to write about your writing
  • Brainstorm a brief monologue to talk about your script project
  • Consider where your plot and characters fit into the business

A logline and a short pitch are as fundamentally important as your cover page.  This is part of the job of screenwriting.

Use the same skills you exercise as a script writer

  • Create that brief monologue about your characters and story that you can deliver to anyone at any time.  Clearly. Honestly. Not endlessly. With modesty and underlying enthusiasm.
  • Write three lines which describe your movie or TV show. — That logline
  • Go into the databases of managers, agents, producers. (Done Deal, IMDB Pro, etc.) and qualify prospects
  • Make calls
  • Send emails
  • Practice pitch by talking to all kinds of people about your project
  • Enter contests
  • Go to festivals

Give rejection big hugs every day and you will sell scripts. Show some love to the gatekeepers even if they don’t open the door right away. Go to the next door. The next. Keep knocking. Perseverance. Luck. A great script. Finding the right place at the right time.

Remember –  anything is possible. “Nobody knows anything.”

Upcoming one-week class at will help you move forward with this important 15% of your writing time.

Starting Monday, August 29, Tom’s excellent Network Hollywood course. For more information, go here.

Update: Screenwriting Master Class

July 7th, 2016 by

As I announced Tuesday, I have accepted an offer to become a full-time assistant professor at the School of Cinematic Arts at DePaul University beginning September 1. What does this transition mean? In accepting this position, my work at the School of Cinematic Arts becomes my number one priority. However the administration at DePaul supports me in continuing to host Go Into The Story, my partnership with the Black List, and my work with Screenwriting Master Class.

With regard to Screenwriting Master Class, let me take a few minutes to provide some context. From 2002 to 2010, I taught 31 online courses through the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension with an average student evaluation of 8.9 on a 9.0 scale. I enjoyed that experience and received the program’s Outstanding Instructor Award in 2005. However as I created and taught those classes, I thought I could do something more.

In my interface with thousands of aspiring screenwriters, both through UCLA and my blog, I saw a recurring concern largely the result of what was emerging from writer interactions with so-called screenwriting ‘gurus’ — screenplay structure almost exclusively focused on plot. This was – and is – very much an Outside In approach to the story-crafting and writing process. Make sure this happens by this page count, that happens by that page count. The frequent results: Surface level writing. Formulaic stories.

In my teaching, I was discovering a different take: An Inside Out approach to the process. Engage characters, delve into their lives, and see what emerges from those interactions. By starting there, we begin the creative process inside the story, as opposed to working with some sort of prefab paradigm, then cramming plot elements into that formula.

I began to see the possibility of creating an entire curriculum based on what I called Character Based Screenwriting and it was the prospect of exploring that in a comprehensive and rigorous manner which became a key driver in launching Screenwriting Master Class.

From 2010 through 2012, I created sixteen one-week Core (theory) and Craft (practice) classes along with four online workshops — Story Prep, First Draft, Rewriting, The Quest — all centered on this mantra: Start with character. End with character. Find the story in between. And it worked!

SMC Front Page

In the 5 1/2 years since the SMC launch, I have taught 124 Screenwriting Master Class courses, 77 one-week intensives and 47 writing workshops. 40% of the writers who take SMC classes are so satisfied with their experience, they take multiple courses. 80% of my workshop participants finish their outlines or drafts within the official time period of the class and another 10% do after the course end date. Dozens of alumni have gone on to sign with Hollywood reps, optioned or sold scripts, and/or gotten movies or TV series produced.

You can read what writers have to say about us here.

I honestly believe what Screenwriting Master Class co-founder Tom Benedek and I offer is unique among any online educational resource: 60+ years of experience as professional movie and TV writers and producers combined with 20+ years of teaching, a passion for storytelling, and unparalleled instructor feedback, all grounded in a coherent, comprehensive, character-based approach to the writing process.

[One thing my position at DePaul will allow me to do is something I’ve wanted to explore for years, but have just been too damn busy: Write books. As it stands I have 5 stand-alone books about the screenwriting process in the works which, once written, I plan to combine into what is in effect a screenwriting textbook, as well as 3 other books related to the writing craft.]

With my upcoming move to Chicago, what about my schedule at Screenwriting Master Class? During the academic school year, I will no longer teach any of the SMC online workshops. Instead Tom Benedek will cover those. I will oversee the 1-week Core and Craft classes as they require much less of my time compared to the writing workshops.

In the summer, my plan is to teach two Prep: From Concept to Outline workshops and one Pages I: Writing the First Draft workshop. I may also offer one or two on-site 3-day weekend Quest Writing Workshops in Chicago and Los Angeles.

All of which means my upcoming Prep class which begins August 8 will be the last SMC workshop I will oversee until summer 2017. I will cap enrollment for this session, so if you are interested, best to jump in sooner rather than later.

Bottom line: I am extremely proud of Screenwriting Master Class. It has allowed me to road-test Character Based Screenwriting with over 1,000 writers, both theory and practice — writing and rewriting lectures, message board conversations, hundreds of hours of group and private teleconferences, working with writers on countless outlines and script pages — plus grow as a teacher, writer, and human being.

As I transition into my new position at the School of Cinematic Arts at DePaul University, I will continue to explore what I have been discovering over the years as a writer and teacher. Screenwriting Master Class will still be a part of that journey, however on a more limited basis.

Fortunately there are two instructors at Screenwriting Master Class and I cannot recommend Tom Benedek enough. He is the very first screenwriter I met in Hollywood… on the Universal lot back in 1987. We have been colleagues and friends ever since. He is a talented writer who has worked with some of the biggest producers and directors in the business Robert Zemeckis, Lawerence Kasdan, Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard Zanuck, David Brown, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, and Harold Ramis. Tom is a member of the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (writers branch). He has taught at USC, UCLA, University of Michigan, and the University of Massachusetts, and he brings all that experience as well as a passion for writing to his teaching. You may look for more SMC classes and workshops from Tom in the future.

And that’s the last post on the whole School of Cinematic Arts move. Back to our regularly scheduled… schedule!


Comment Archive

Concept = Hook

July 6th, 2016 by

Whatever degree of importance you attribute to your script’s story concept… it’s probably not enough. Here’s how I begin Lecture 1 of my Core II: Concept class:

The foundation of any movie is the screenplay. The foundation of any screenplay is the concept. Therefore it stands to reason which story concept you develop and write as a script is a critical choice. And that is precisely why I created the second part of the Core curriculum – to understand how movie industry insiders think, provide you with proven methods to generate story concepts, and develop analytical skills to help you decide which ideas are the most viable ones for you to write.

Don’t believe me? How about this:

“Most aspiring screenwriters simply don’t spend enough time choosing their concept. It’s by far the most common mistake I see in spec scripts. The writer has lost the race right from the gate. Months — sometimes years — are lost trying to elevate a film idea that by its nature probably had no hope of ever becoming a movie.”

— Terry Rossio (Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

Ideas cost NOTHING and require ZERO risk. And yet, oddly, the LEAST amount of time’s usually spent in the idea stage before a small fortune is dumped on a whimsy that’s still half-baked… Ideas cost nothing yet have the potential to yield inexplicably long careers and happy lives.”

— Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Zak and Miri Make a Porno)

In the Core content of The Quest, we work with eight screenwriting principles, and the second one is this:

Concept = Hook

On Monday, July 11, I will begin teaching Core II: Concept. In this 1-week online course, you will learn:

* The lowdown on high concept

* Genre, Cross Genres and Sub-Genres

* Hollywood’s obsession with ‘similar but different’

* Brainstorming and recycling

* Gender bending and genre bending

* How to test your story concept

And much more. The course consists of four components:

  • Lectures: There are six lectures written by me, each posting Monday through Saturday.
  • Writing Exercises: These optional exercises offer you the opportunity to workshop one of your own loglines and receive feedback from class members and myself.
  • Teleconference: We will have a Skype teleconference call to discuss course material.
  • Forums: The online course site has message boards where you may post questions / comments, a lively source of some great conversations.

For those of you who have not taken an online class, the interface is extremely easy. Plus online classes can be an amazing experience. Most of the activities you can do on your own time — download and read lectures, review and respond to forum discussions, upload loglines and track comments. In addition, I’ve been teaching online for over a decade and it never ceases to amaze me how much of a community emerges in such an environment with writers from all around the world including Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa.

I only teach my Core classes once a year and the 2016 cycle begins later this month. Everything you need to know about screenwriting theory in this unique curriculum based on eight principles: Plot, Concept, Character, Style, Dialogue, Scene, Theme, Time.

CORE I: PLOT – A one-week class which begins with the principle Plot = Structure and explores the inner workings of the Screenplay Universe: Plotline and Themeline. Start date: June 27.

CORE II: CONCEPT – A one-week class which begins with the principle Concept = Hook and examines multiple strategies to generate, develop and assess story ideas. Start date: July 11.

CORE III: CHARACTER – A one-week class which begins with the principle Character = Function and delves into archetypes: Protagonist, Nemesis, Attractor, Mentor, and Trickster. Start date: August 8.

CORE IV: STYLE – A one-week class which begins with the principle Style = Voice and surfaces keys to developing a distinctive writer’s personality on the page. Start date: August 22.

CORE V: DIALOGUE – A one-week class which begins with the principle Dialogue = Purpose and probes a variety of ways to write effective, entertaining dialogue. Start date: September 19.

CORE VI: SCENE – A one-week class which begins with the principle Scene = Point and provides six essential questions to ask when crafting and writing any scene. Start date: October 3.

CORE VII: THEME – A one-week class which begins with the principle Theme = Meaning and gives writers a concrete take on theme which can elevate the depth of any story. Start date: November 14.

CORE VIII: TIME – A one-week class which begins with the principle Time = Present and studies Present, Present-Past, Present-Future and time management in writing. Start date: December 12.

These eight Core classes represent decades of my work on the front lines of the entertainment business as a writer and producer, and engaging the craft as a teacher as well, over time pulling together screenwriting theory into a coherent and cohesive approach. This is not about secret systems or magic formulas, rather the Core content presents a way of approaching the story-crafting process, starting with characters, working with characters, and ending with characters. That process of engaging you with your story universe through your characters and getting you in touch with these living, breathing individuals informs every step of your creative process, leading you to story structure, themes, conflict, subplots, and all the rest. As I say, Character Based Screenwriting.

To learn about any of the Core classes, click on the links above. If you want to have immediate access to all of the content, plus automatic enrollment in each of the eight 1-week classes, plus a savings of nearly 50%, check out the Core Package here.

I cannot overstate the importance of working with a strong story concept. Therefore Core II: Concept may be the single most important step you take to put yourself in a position to succeed as a screenwriter.

For information on Core II: Concept, go here.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

Comment Archive

Check out our new Screenwriting Master Class website!

May 30th, 2016 by

We have a new website! Check it out here. If you look at our course offerings, you will see that Tom Benedek and I have put together a comprehensive curriculum, grounded in our collective 60+ years of working in the movie and TV business, and nearly 30 years of teaching experience.

Our 1-week Core and Craft Classes offer an excellent way to learn screenwriting theory and writing tools and techniques, all road tested on the front lines of working for decades in Hollywood. You may select one course to focus on a specific area of need or interest, or combine classes to go deeper into your personal education.

Our Writing Workshops provide an excellent way to learn everything from story prep to first draft to rewriting both movie and TV scripts.

Our Private Programs allow you to work with Tom or myself in a private one-on-one arrangement which we can tailor to your specific writing needs and life schedule.

Screenwriting Master Class alumni have set up projects at major studios including Paramount, Warner Bros., and Legendary Pictures, TV networks including ABC, AMC, HBO, and USA, and signed with top agencies including CAA, The Gersh Agency, UTA, Verve, and WME, as well as managers including Circle of Confusion, Grandview, Lee Stobby, Madhouse Entertainment, Mosaic, and MXN Entertainment.

Upcoming course offerings include:

May 30: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling
With Scott Myers

June 6: Prep: From Concept to Outline
With Tom Benedek

June 13: Pages II: Rewriting Your Script
With Scott Myers

June 20: Pages I: Writing Your First Draft
With Tom Benedek

And on June 27, I will begin teaching my entire 8 course screenwriting theory Core Curriculum, a holistic approach to Character Based Screenwriting covering Plot, Concept, Character, Style, Dialogue, Scene, Theme, and Time. It’s the only time I will be offering these classes in 2016 and you can take them all for a nearly 50% discount by enrolling in the Core Package.

As with all Screenwriting Master Class courses, you get the unique benefit of online education:

  • Access courses anytime and anywhere on your computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • Learn the craft amidst a supportive, lively, and fun online community from around the world.
  • Receive feedback from instructors who know the business and have a passion for teaching.

To learn more about the positive experience Screenwriting Master Class writers have, go here to read just a few of the dozens of testimonials we have received during our 5+ years of existence.

So please stop by our new website and let us know what you think. While you’re there, be sure to sign up to receive a free tutorial download: TV PILOT CREATION BUILDING BLOCK #1 – FAMILY OF CHARACTERS. Look for new tutorials each month by getting on our email list.

As always, we look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets

February 1st, 2016 by

From elevator pitches to development meetings to conference calls with talent, a screenwriter’s ability to share stories in a variety of narrative forms is both a valuable and necessary skillset. In the upcoming 1-week Screenwriting Master Class online course Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets [February 8-14], you will learn six different story summaries that are critical assets for any screenwriter.

A screenwriter not only needs to know how to write a script, we also have to be able to convey our stories in multiple other ways. Beyond that, every time we shape a story in a different way, we learn something about it. As such, summaries can be helpful tools in developing, understanding, and crafting our scripts.

This 1-week online course that I will be teaching covers multiple story summaries: Logline, Synopsis, Breakdown, Treatment, Scriptment, and Beat Sheet.

Learn the ins and outs of six different story summaries including using them to help you craft your stories.

Plus you will have the opportunity to craft a logline of your own story with an optional workshop exercise.

The course consists of:

Seven lectures written by Scott Myers

Daily forum Q&As

Optional workshop writing assignments with instructor and class feedback.

A live teleconference between instructor and class members.

In the past, the response from participants in this course has been extremely positive. Here’s one reaction:

The prepared lectures alone are worth the price of this class. But, the added bonus of discussing the lectures as well as being able to workshop my loglines with Scott and my classmates was a fantastic learning experience that really helped me develop my ability to whittle an idea down to one intriguing sentence. If your manager, agent, guru, mother, or favorite reader asks you for a synopsis, treatment, beat sheet, or logline and you have no idea what any of those are then this class is for you. — Calvin Starnes

Just wanted to thank everyone in this class especially Scott for a most valuable week of learning. I found this type of interactive environment has been far more helpful for me than reading books has been. The group collaboration has been excellent and I have really enjoyed and valued everybody’s contributions. I’ve personally found this course has really helped me zone in on the crucial aspects of each respective type of story summary. This in turn has given me much more confidence in taking the next steps into creating the first draft and I would like to thank you all for that. – Steve Broughton

That’s the “secret sauce” in all the SMC classes you and Tom teach. It’s not a “here’s what to think” listing of so called “rules of writing.” Instead, the emphasis is always on HOW to think like a professional, about story, character and the business side of the craft. – John Arends

If you haven’t tried an online course before, this is a great and simple way to do it. You can download lectures any time and read them at your leisure. Peruse forum comments from your fellow classmates and respond whenever you want. The teleconference is on Skype and recorded so you can have access to it for transcription purposes. It’s amazing how convenient and effective online education is.

So why don’t you join me for Story Summaries: From Loglines to Beat Sheets? You can find out more about this 1-week online screenwriting class here.

I hope you can join me starting next Monday for this important and informative class!

Check this out: The Craft Package. Take all eight Craft classes and learn some of screenwriting’s most important principles and practices all for nearly 50% off.

  • Automatic enrollment in all 8 Craft classes as they are offered now through May
  • Immediate access to the online Craft Package site so you can go through all course content on your own time
  • A bonus 9th class — Character Introductions — exclusively for Craft Package enrollees

January 25: Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

February 8: Craft: Story Summaries
presented by Scott Myers

February 22: Craft: Handling Exposition
presented by Scott Myers

March 7: Craft: Scene Description Spotlight
presented by Scott Myers

April 4: Craft: Character Development Keys
presented by Scott Myers

May 2: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist
presented by Scott Myers

May 16: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis
presented by Scott Myers

May 30: Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

For more information on the Craft Package, go here.

Screenwriting Master Class: January-June 2016

December 11th, 2015 by

You can learn everything you need to know about the craft of screenwriting on your own.

Watch movies.

Read scripts.

Write pages.

Study the pros.

You can do that and get to where you need to be.

If you want to expedite your learning process…

Steep yourself in comprehensive, coherent writing theory…

Adopt and adapt proven writing practices…

And do all that with mentors who have over 6 decades of experience working in the film and TV business, a combined 2 decades of teaching experience, and a genuine passion for Story and Storytelling…

Consider working with Tom Benedek and myself at Screenwriting Master Class.

I honestly believe there is no better value in online education than what we have to offer, a combination of insightful lectures, active 24/7 message boards, an honest and positive evaluative community, weekly teleconferences, and direct interaction and feedback from Tom and myself.

Here is our schedule for the first six months of 2016:

January 4: Pages I: Writing the First Draft
presented by Tom Benedek

January 11: Prep: From Concept to Outline
presented by Scott Myers

January 18: Pages TV: Original Pilot Script Workshop
presented by Tom Benedek

January 25: Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

February 1: Craft: The First 15 Pages
presented by Tom Benedek

February 8: Craft: Story Summaries
presented by Scott Myers

February 15: Craft: Writing the Low Budget Script
presented by Tom Benedek

February 22: Craft: Handling Exposition
presented by Scott Myers

February 29: Prep: From Concept to Outline
presented by Tom Benedek

March 7: Craft: Scene Description Spotlight
presented by Scott Myers

March 14: Craft: Character Driven Screenplay – Alexander Payne and David O. Russell
presented by Tom Benedek

March 21: Pages I: Writing Your First Draft
presented by Scott Myers

March 28: CRAFT TV: Writing the Original Pilot – 1 week class
presented by Tom Benedek

April 4: Craft: Character Development Keys
presented by Scott Myers

April 11: The First Draft — Introduction to Screenwriting
presented by Tom Benedek

April 18: Prep: From Concept to Outline
presented by Scott Myers

April 25: Craft: Joss Whedon – Creating Characters
presented by Tom Benedek

May 2: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist
presented by Scott Myers

May 9: Original Pilot Script Workshop
presented by Tom Benedek

May 16: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis
presented by Scott Myers

May 23: Craft: Writing Scenes — Sorkin to Tarantino
presented by Tom Benedek

May 30: Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling
presented by Scott Myers

June 6: Prep: From Concept to Outline
presented by Tom Benedek

June 13: Pages II: Rewriting Your Script
presented by Scott Myers

June 20: Pages I: Writing Your First Draft
presented by Tom Benedek

June 27: Core I: Plot
presented by Scott Myers

July 5: Craft: TV – Writing the Web Series
presented by Tom Benedek

If you’ve never tried an online course before, a great way to check it out is our 1-week Craft classes. Sign up for one or do what a lot of writers do: Enroll in the Craft Package which gives you immediate access to the content for all 8 of my Craft courses and automatic enrollment in each of the 1-week Craft classes, all for about 50% off the regular price.

For those of you thinking about entering the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge in March, pounding out a draft of an original screenplay in 30 days, consider my Prep: From Concept to Outline workshop which begins January 11. The timing is such you’ll finish breaking your story in prep right as the ZD30 challenge begins.

Jump start your writing with Screenwriting Master Class.

We look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

Private Script Workshops

December 7th, 2015 by

Imagine having your very own private script workshop. A structured environment with content and a schedule tailored to meet your specific creative needs. Your own unique online course site. And a one-on-one mentor relationship with a professional screenwriter and educator.

You can do this through Screenwriting Master Class.

Perhaps all you need is a 4-week rewrite workshop to add more depth to a couple of characters in your script and polish the overall dialogue.

Maybe you have gotten through a few drafts of your story, but you need to do a page 1 rewrite.

You could have already worked out your story and want guidance during the first draft process.

Or you’re starting with a concept and want to do prep and page-writing.

Maybe you are a beginner looking to learn the essentials of screenwriting and end up with a finished screenplay.

At Screenwriting Master Class, we can create private script workshops to match up with your individual goals as a writer.

Private Script Workshop

Since launching SMC in 2010, Tom Benedek and I have worked with writers of all backgrounds and interests in the context of numerous private script workshops. Here are testimonials from two:

“Working with Scott in SMC’s private workshop was an invaluable experience. The private workshop gave me the attention I needed to address my script’s problem. I was so impressed with the quality of his teaching, the way the course was structured and the interactive process. In the end, not only did Scott help me solve my character problem, he elevated my script as a whole. He is a wonderful mentor and I learned a lot about the craft of screenwriting.” — Gladys Stone, screenwriter of “Tulio” (Semifinalist, Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition)

“Working with Scott in a private workshop arrangement through SMC greatly accelerated my screenwriting knowledge and craftsmanship. Scott is a most dynamic, gifted and generous educator. He offered a holistic, character-driven approach to story that helped bring out my best as a writer. The flexible syllabus of the mentorship invites exploration of creative impulses without fear of losing direction or purpose. The script on which Scott consulted placed in the top one percent of the 2011 AFF screenwriting competition and has opened industry doors. Most importantly the SMC has cemented lasting self confidence in my abilities as a writer.” — Gyan Alexander, screenwriter of “Convinced” (Seminfinalist, Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition)

People who have done private script workshops through Screenwriting Master Class include professional screenwriters, best-selling non-fiction authors, playwrights, and novelists, as well as beginning, intermediate and advanced writers.

One popular approach: Combine Prep: From Concept to Outline, Pages I: The First Draft, and Pages II: Rewriting Your Script enabling you to take a story from its inception all the way through final polish — all with a knowledgeable mentor.

Here are three big reasons to consider an SMC private script workshop:

* Writing a screenplay involves making thousands of choices about characters, plot, theme and so forth. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have feedback from a professional to help steer you through the process enabling you to avoid huge story pitfalls that could derail your scripting process?

* Writing a screenplay is a thankless, lonely job. Wouldn’t it be great to have the ongoing support of a professional to enable you to overcome inevitable story problems and emotional downswings?

* Writing a screenplay is a mystery. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn proven principles and practices from a professional with years of experience working in the entertainment industry, an approach to writing you can use again and again on your future stories?

For more information, contact us here.

Tom and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

A different approach to “theme”

November 9th, 2015 by

Nearly everything I’ve ever read on the subject of ‘theme’ in relation to screenwriting has felt either confusing or impractical.

What does theme mean? How should we understand it? How can we use it in our writing?

The ironic thing is theme is incredibly important:

* Important in helping us find the focus of our story.

* Important in mining the story’s emotional and psychological depth.

* Important in elevating the impact of the events that transpire in our story.

That is why I created Core VII: Theme. And starting Monday, November 16, I will be teaching this unique one-week online screenwriting class.

The course consists of six lectures I wrote, message board discussions, insider tips, and an optional writing exercise to workshop one of your stories. All of those you can do on your own time, everything from downloading and reading lectures to posting comments.

There is also a 90-minute teleconference between class participants and myself where we discuss the course content and anything screenwriting related.

In this course:

  • You will learn a coherent take on theme, how it relates to the overall story, and tips on how to weave thematic material into your scripts.
  • You can put to use what you have learned by workshopping one of your own stories.

Scripts we will study in the class: The King’s Speech, The Silence of the Lambs, Tootsie, The Shawshank Redemption, Bull Durham, As Good As It Gets, The Dark Knight, The Social Network among others.

When I introduced this class, the response from participants was hugely favorable, the major sentiment that this approach to theme not only clears up a confusing subject, but also provides practical tools a writer can use to work with themes in their own stories. Like this testimonial:

Your “Theme” class for aspiring screenwriters is not just helpful, it is essential. From the personal attention to the numerous “A-Ha!” moments throughout the class, I was thrilled to simply KEEP LEARNING. How many teachers can boast about that with their students? — Heather Thompson

So sign up now!

I look forward to working with you!