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Story for Screenwriting: Advanced Structure

Event information

Where: Online

Date: Online courses starting: 13 March 2023; 12 June 2023; 11 September 2023

Cost: £900 / £225 (bursary places available)

Type: Online Writing Course , Writing and Publishing Skills Hub

Book full price place now

Develop an industry-standard treatment for your original TV, film, or stage drama

Our professional development course with Professional Writing Academy and John Yorke Story is based on the techniques BAFTA-winning storyteller John Yorke developed to train new writing talent on the BBC Writers’ Academy scheme. Alumni of this course have gone on to work on award-winning shows which have won Emmys, Oscars and BAFTAs.

Over four months you’ll sharpen your screenwriting skills, network with like-minded writers, and develop an industry-standard treatment for your original TV, film or stage drama.

There’s a balance of theory – the five-act structure ideas set out in John Yorke’s acclaimed book, Into The Woods – with highly practical exercises based on films and TV drama everyone knows, from Jaws and The Godfather through to classic continuing drama like EastEnders.

You will master the essential building blocks every successful story needs, and uncover the blueprint underlying all archetypal stories.

You’ll work in a small group of dedicated screenwriters with an expert tutor who will answer your questions, feedback on your assignments, and provide detailed notes on your treatment at the end of the course.

All participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion evidencing their learning and study hours.

Duration: 16 weeks
Skill level: Expert
Frequency: Fortnightly
Sessions: 7

Bursary places for North of Tyne residents

Our funding from North of Tyne Combined Authority allows us to offer 75% off the price of this course for residents of Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

Apply for a bursary place

Mark Catley, course tutor

Mark is an award-winning writer for screen, playwright, script consultant and TV producer. In recent years Mark has worked as a story consultant and lead writer for Eastenders (BBC), for which he won a BAFTA. Prior to this Mark was series executive consultant, lead writer and executive producer for Casualty (BBC) for which he won a BAFTA, a National Television Award (Best Drama) and an RTS Award (Best Drama). Mark has also won an RTS Award as/for Executive Producer of The Flood (BBC). Mark is developing and writing original content for international streaming services and is currently developing a number of original dramas for television.

Mark has written extensively for TV with credits for Call the Midwife (BBC, Series 2), My Mad Fat Diary (E4), the Interceptor (BBC), Youngers (E4), Holby City and Doctors (BBC). Other work includes Eggbox, an original TV pilot for BBC3, co-written with Tom Bidwell for Hat-Trick Productions.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH JOHN YORKE STORY

Accessible, industry-focused CPD training and consultancy for professionals at any stage of their career. Online learning led by BAFTA-winning John Yorke, author of bestselling book on story structure Into the Woods.

CPD CERTIFIED

This course has been independently accredited for integrity and quality. It reaches globally recognised CPD standards and benchmarks for active learning that develops professional skills, competence and career aspirations.

“You can’t teach writing – you either have the talent to write, or you don’t. What you can be taught is a greater knowledge of the tools you need, the theories behind storytelling – and how to apply those theories to help your practice. That’s what we do on this course.”

​- John Yorke

Full course information

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone who writes (or wants to write) drama for film or TV and would like to know more about how and why story principles work.

We teach this Master’s-level course in groups of up to 15 people. You can book as an individual, or you can block-book a class for your team. Often production companies enrol small teams to unify their approach to telling dramatic stories.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Write for TV, film, radio or stage – or would like to move into screenwriting from another form, such as novel-writing
  • Have an MA in TV, Film or Writing and would like to gain practical industry-level skills
  • Work as a screenwriter and would like a refresher on story structure
  • Are a team developing drama, and would like to share a common vocabulary of story
  • Would like to see the blueprint underlying all successful stories, and learn how to manipulate it to tell more effective stories
  • Need to discover why your stories aren’t working – and how to fix them
  • Would like to develop new effective writing habits and take yourself more seriously as a writer
  • Need to produce a professional treatment for an idea
  • Enjoy the discipline of deadlines and peer feedback
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive small group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course

What will I learn?

This professional training allows you to:

  • Acquire the key technical skills screenwriters need, from character wants and needs to effective use of scenes and fractal storytelling
  • Understand story structure, including five-act structure, turning points including the midpoint, breaking a story, the roadmap of change
  • Gain greater understanding of industry expectations around commissioning and audience
  • Clearly identify and pursue your potential as a screenwriter
  • Master techniques to help diagnose and fix problems in any story
  • Get to grips with writing a professional standard treatment
  • Develop the professional skills screenwriters require (eg discipline, attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines)
  • Increase your professionalism in working with others
  • Practise giving effective feedback to other writers and receiving critical notes
  • Network with other writers and with the tutor team and industry guests
  • Build greater independence, autonomy and critical judgment as you self-direct, self-manage and realise your assignments and final project to the course briefs

What are the sessions?

Session 1: Introduction to Story (1) – You’ll start by learning the grammar of storytelling and the essential elements of a story, and experiment with summing up a protagonist’s wants and needs.

Session 2: Introduction to Story (2) – We build on the basic building blocks of the archetypal story identified in Session 1, examining structural form in more detail. We’ll look at the inciting incident, the character’s journey and story endings (crisis, climax and resolution).

Session 3: Essential Story Tools – This is about ‘breaking’ a story into its component parts to see whether it’s working as well as it could. You’ll also experiment with three-act structure. By the end of this session you should be able to deconstruct any story and understand how to fix parts that don’t work.

Session 4: Five-Act Structure – Now we break down a story into five acts and look at why this is such an invaluable tool for dramatic storytellers. You’ll learn the art of identifying turning points and the all-important midpoint, and experiment with rewriting a broken story in five parts.

Session 5: Building Stories – We introduce the basic building blocks of stories – scenes – and explain why you need to get inside characters’ heads to make them work. You’ll use the knowledge you’ve gained to plan an original story in five parts.

Session 6: Top Story Tips – By now you should know how to create a story, test its elements to make sure it works, and structure it into beats, scenes and acts. This session offers simple tips that will inspire you to look at stories and scripts with a fresh eye. If you have a problem with a story, this session will provide the solution.

Session 7: Write Your Own Treatment – We look at the difference between a synopsis and a treatment, then learn the rules for writing a successful professional-standard treatment.

Submit your treatment for an original idea and receive a detailed one-to-one feedback report from your tutor.

At the end of the course you’ll have everything you need, including expert feedback, to move onto our Story for Pitch Decks course, and prepare to pitch your idea at agents and commissioners.

During this course, there will also be a Live Q&A session with a featured screenwriter.

What happens after the course?

Join our alumni

After your course, you can join our online alumni community where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. You’ll be able to:

  • Rejoin your classmates in a private forum
  • Continue to access an archived version of your course materials
  • Meet alumni from other courses and share work for feedback
  • Join discussions about screenwriting, script editing and the industry
  • Attend live chats with guest writers and industry folk

Mentoring and one-to-one feedback

The John Yorke Story tutor team offer mentoring, script reads and reports. We are happy to quote by job or script, or to arrange a longer mentoring scheme as you work on a specific story idea. We’ll create a package to suit you, so for more information please email [email protected]

Bursary information

If you are a writer based in North of Tyne, you may be eligible for a bursary discount through New Writing North.

You can submit your application through this site.

This course is open to writers all over the globe. If you are based anywhere else in the world, you can buy now here.

How it works

Learn

We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts.

Practise

You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.

Share

You share your work with the small group of fellow writers and the teaching team.

Feedback

Your tutor and fellow learners read your work and give professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor – a critical part of the writing process.

Discuss

You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.

Review and Improve

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.

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