Friday, June 8, 2012

Story Editing Online Course Brochure!

Wonderful news! Here is the brochure for my online story editing course! Check it out here and download the PDF. Spaces still open: course starts week of June 18.

  Click HERE to download the brochure for this summer's online Story Editing course.

Monday, June 4, 2012

New course offering for writers in June-August, 2012

Exciting news! I have decided to run my Becoming a Story Editor course again this summer, from the week of June 18 to the week of August 6.

The course will include:

* eight weekly one-hour long videos by me, sent to you to review on your own schedule

* eight weekly one-hour long individual skype sessions, to work on a project you have in progress

* eight weekly assignments reviewed and discussed with me, to further your understanding of the course content.

Each course is $500 CDN, plus HST of $65 for $565.

Please see below for course description and check back here for updates! Feel free to email me at to register and make further inquiries. I look forward to hearing from you.

Bookmark and Share

New Course: Becoming A Story Editor

June 18 (week of) - August 6 (week of)
Online course
June 18 - August 6, 2012
(for videos; assignment/skype time will extend into the week after)
Course Goals and Objectives:
Students will learn how to establish a creative and productive relationship with a writer/client in developing screenplays for short, medium and long form format. Priority is placed on discerning the difference between short and long-term development contracts as well as the appropriate methods for coaching within specific pressures and project needs.

Class 1: Week of June 18, 2012Video 1. Establishing the criteria of successful relationships: Building Trust: Creative Development, not Critique!
Central to the course development goals is the desire to establish a relationship of trust based on clearly defined and consistent perameters and goals. The editor coaches by offering ways to help the writer express themselves and their own project goals. Understanding the writer’s motivation and personal writing history; discerning what is a good “fit” for editor and client and establishing consistency and pace for development are highlights of the first week.

Class 2: Week of June 25, 2012
Video 2: Making a critical path:
Evaluation not Judgment.
Evaluating where the writer is in their own development is essential to making a relationship that works ongoingly. There is no ‘better or worse’ as writers. There is only ‘more experienced’ and ‘less experienced’. It is essential that the story editor not place value on one of these over the other – as the ‘less experienced’ client will become ‘more experienced’ in your care and during the process will continue to teach you about what works and what doesn’t. A good editor/client relationship is one where the editor learns from all her clients, regardless of level of experience and where the writer never feels “not good enough”, but instead feels “positively challenged”. The writer must hear the openness and non-judgmental nature of the editor in order to be more willing to share, to engage, and to try new things. Discerning the difference between evaluation and judgment; discovering how to work within your own personal opinions and reactions to the content of others; guiding without taking over; avoiding “should” language and adopting “try” language, and setting out a critical path for the writer, are all highlights of this week.

Week 3: July 2, 2012
Video 3. Back to basics: the Story Editor's view of fundamental elements
During this video I will review the three most important elements of writing (which will each follow in their own intensive video): character, story and emotional arc. This introduction will serve as a means of looking at how to evaluate whether or not a piece is working. As well, we will take a close look at the 3 P’s of Perilous Story Editing: Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice and the dangers they pose to writers. At the same time I will encourage the 3 C’s of Creativity: Carefulness, Clarity and Communication. Each of these three elements will be introduced in the video and then elaborated on in coming weeks.

Class 4: Week of July 9, 2012
Video 4. Character:
the backbone of all drama!
In this week’s class I will discuss the necessity of strong character work as the basis of the development of any project. Like ‘emotional line/arc’ it is work that is most often left undone or attempted by one or two people as part of putting together a ‘character bible’. While the ‘bible’ can be a useful exercise, it is rarely ‘developed’ but is instead generated by the writer and kept on file (especially in television) as more of a fact-checking index for later work (“was the character born in 1973? Or 75?”). Instead, our model in this session will be to look at the primary psychological profile of a character: what motivates them, inspires them; what are their greatest fears etc. In doing so we will develop and understanding of why characters often “make choices” on their own that we hadn’t planned. The story editor can often see those coming, even when the writer doesn’t.

Class 5: Week of July 16
Video 5. Good story:
why do we have so many different ideas about what that is?
‘Story’ is the most over-used and least universally understood word in film and television. This is ironic, given that ‘story’ is the primary way in which we in North America evaluate projects. This class will cover the common sense understanding of story as ‘narrative line’, ie events that move in sequence toward goals, including the most common and most useful structures for same. But we will also look at the other enriching aspects of story that help to deepen its impact: world, theme, premise and atmosphere.

Class 6: week of July 23
Video 6. The Emotional Line:
how the story is ‘felt’ will make or break its success
Little attention is paid to the ‘emotional line or arc’ of a project when it is in development for film. The emotional line is generally considered to be a nice result of a well-written story scene. An example of that is the way in which close-up shots are inserted in the middle of scenes to convey particular moments of emotion while wider shots surround it to create the story context. However, all the moments of a scene, and all scenes, carry some emotion for the audience, no matter how small or large. Understanding how to use visual writing to help shape the emotional line of a film is a big part of this class. Dialogue (a supporting tool in screenwriting, not its main event) is also discussed for the role it plays. Helping a writer combine their narrative and emotional lines is one of the hardest, but most rewarding, aspects of being a story editor.

Class 7: week of July 30
Video 7. Making hard choices:
how to deal with conflict and strong disagreement

Sometimes you see it coming, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes writers sit on their disagreement with your ideas and unleash it all at once; sometimes they leak it out slowly. Understanding how to deal with differences in the story editing process is the goal of this class. An example: sometimes such disagreements occur over cherished scenes that the writer wants to keep in the screenplay and that you feel weigh it down. The writer continues to include the scene and you continue to wish it gone. At what point do you submit? And how long do you hold ground. A number of examples, problems and solutions are examined.

Class 8: week of August 6
Video 8: Bringing it all together:
how to fine-tune a well-written script

Bringing the finished screenplay to its fullest readiness requires final polishing. In this class we look at some of what happens at that stage, the tweaking and fine-tuning of both the narrative and emotional lines of the screenplay. Knowing when to stop (preventing over-writing) is part of a Story Editor’s job, but that must be about the writer’s readiness and not your own fatigue with the project! Some considerations and criteria for determining when a screenplay is ready to go into the world. Also in this class: discussion of how to create and negotiate contracts.

Bookmark and Share