This September, I begin a new chapter in my creative journey as an assistant professor of screenwriter at the DePaul University School of Cinematic Arts. As a result, I will only offer group workshops — Prep: From Concept to Outline, Pages I: Writing the First Draft, and Pages II: Rewriting Your Script — between May and August which means the next sessions I will lead will be in 2017.
However I do have a handful of slots available for private one-on-one workshops including the premiere program I offer: The Quest.
The Quest is an intensive 20-week online screenwriting workshop which consists of three stages:
Core [4 weeks]: Participants learn essential screenwriting principles covering Plot, Concept, Character, Style, Dialogue, Scene, Theme, Time. There are 12 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 4 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 constructing 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
The Quest is not for everyone. It involves a big commitment in terms of time and – frankly – money. However the education gives writers a solid foundation in screenwriting theory and practice, all of it grounded in over 30 years experience as a professional writer and teacher. In my humble, it is superior to anything available. Here is one of many testimonials:
If you’re serious about screenwriting, you should already know you have a long journey ahead of you. Any chance you get to cross paths with Scott, whether it’s a one week class or The Quest, is a chance to expedite that journey.
Scott’s instincts as a mentor are spot on. He can tell the difference between when you need encouragement and when you need a good kick in the pants. Under his guidance, you become the kind of writer you want to be, the kind that doesn’t need to wait for inspiration.
The Quest changed my life. It gave me the structure to be immersed in screenwriting and the flexibility needed to write and accommodate work and family life.
The Quest exceeded my expectations. Not only did I come out with a quality screenplay, but a practical approach that I can apply to each script I write.
You can spend your time reading through screenwriting inspiration, tips or shortcuts, thinking it will help more than actually doing the work, or you can take the leap and do The Quest.
— Taylor Gordon
As I say, I have room for a few Questers for the remainder of 2016. I also offer private programs for Prep: From Concept to Outline, Pages I: Writing the First Draft, and Pages II: Rewriting Your Script. If you’re interested, email me: scott at screenwritingmasterclass dot com. More information here.