Style goes beyond mere ‘scene description’. It goes to Narrative Voice.
Start with this question: Who tells your story? Obviously, when you sit down to create a screenplay, you write the story. But when a manager, producer, agent, or studio executive reads your script, who tells your story to them?
It is someone who remains largely invisible, but whose presence is felt from FADE IN to FADE OUT. Someone about whom many screenwriters have little knowledge and yet traffic in that unseen world every time they write a scene. Someone who can make a screenplay a great read — or something less.
Let’s call it Narrative Voice.
Narrative Voice is not a narrator per se. You will never see it with its own side of dialogue. In fact, you will never name it in your screenplay. But Narrative Voice is there. And it is a critical aspect of your script’s success.
What is Narrative Voice?
Narrative Voice is the storytelling sensibility you bring to your screenplay through your writing style. Think of Narrative Voice as your script’s invisible character. Although silent, it is present in every scene, every line, every word you write. As you develop and sharpen each visible character in your screenplay, you also need to figure out who your Narrative Voice is, what your Narrative Voice sounds like, and how your Narrative Voice will play an active role in the telling of your story.
In Core IV: Style, a 1-week online class I will teach starting on Monday, October 23, you will learn about:
- The ins and outs of Narrative Voice
- Elements of screenplay style
- Psychological writing (Perspective, Proximity, Perception)
- Imagematic writing (Verbs, Descriptors, Poetics)
- Action writing (Lines, Paragraphs, Direction)
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 test out your own writing style, plus the chance to workshop and receive feedback on one of your own loglines.
- Teleconference: We will have a Skype teleconference call to discuss course material.
- Forums: The online course site has forums where you may post questions / comments.
Our study scripts: Wall-E, The Hangover, The Dark Knight, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Last Boy Scout, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Chinatown, The Matrix, Black Swan, Legally Blonde, American Beauty, Little Miss Sunshine, Basic Instinct, Unforgiven, True Grit, The King’s Speech, and Winter’s Bone.
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.
Core IV: Style is one of eight classes in the Core curriculum. Here is the schedule for the remaining five classes, the only time I will be offering these courses in 2017:
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. Available for study.
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. Available for study.
CORE III: CHARACTER — A one-week class which begins with the principle Character = Function and delves into archetypes: Protagonist, Nemesis, Attractor, Mentor, and Trickster. Available for study.
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: October 23.
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: November 6.
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: November 13.
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 27.
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 11.
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 a coherent, comprehensive, and cohesive approach to screenwriting theory.
This is not about secret systems or magic formulas, rather the Core content presents a story-crafting process that starts with characters, works with characters, and ends 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.
NOTE: I provide feedback and am actively involved in our online chats. That includes a 90 minute teleconference for each Core class.
Check out the Core Package to ground yourself in a proven, professional approach to screenwriting theory and practice.
“Joining Scott’s class is one of the best decisions anyone could make when deciding to embark on the journey of writing a screenplay. His passion for teaching and screenwriting could not be more inspirational. I couldn’t wish for a better teacher and mentor!” — Theodora von Auersperg
“Your unique lectures helped me think about character in new ways, and will inevitably change the way I approach new ideas and outlines. And I’m blown away and impressed at the level of personal feedback/communication from you. I don’t know how you do it — androids couldn’t manage their time more efficiently than you.” — Bob Corsi
“When I found out about Scott Myers’ Screenwriting Master Class, I signed up for the first module, to test the waters, but before the week was out, I’d signed up for the rest [The Core Package]. Wish I’d known about it all those years ago! Value for money, solid understandable notes, a teacher who’s been there and done it, plus swapping ideas with fellow writers — it doesn’t get any more real.” — Philip Brewster
I have gotten to know dozens of professional script readers throughout the years and I can let you in on this little secret: A writer’s voice as exhibited in screenplay style goes a long way toward winning them over and getting you favorable script coverage.
For information on Core IV: Style, which begins October 23, go here.
For The Core Package, go here.
I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!