- Writing, Reading, & Watching Movies
First, set aside time to write – if not every day, on a regular basis. Writers don’t become successful by simply thinking about their ideas. Put words on the page.
Second, read plenty of books on the craft of writing and on the industry. Also, if you are focused on screenwriting, read screenplays! If you are focused on writing fiction, read fiction within the genre that you plan to write. Check out some of our book recommendations:
Books & Scripts for Writers
Third, watch a variety of movies and television shows. Get to know the classics that inspire new content today, and understand the trends that are currently popular. Watch award-winning films and TV shows, audience favorites, and critic favorites. Take notes. Break down the scenes and the different acts into a spreadsheet to study the structure and pacing. Alternately, watch some bad movies and TV shows. Compare the dialogue of stellar writing to the dialogue in a bad movie or TV show.
- Get Feedback On Your Writing
Join a Writers’ Group in your area, or start a Writers’ Group by connecting with other IndieClub.com writers using our Search Tool to find members like you. Meet regularly and read each others’ scripts and provide critique.
Swap Your Script with other writers or filmmakers on IndieClub.com. You will learn from both giving and receiving feedback. Within the Posting Board, we have created a secure swap system for exchanging feedback with another writer. For security reasons, only Pro Members are allowed to participate in swaps to ensure that you are not swapping your script with an anonymous email address.
- Graduate Degrees in Writing
Many universities offer a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in writing. Admission requirements vary, but programs generally require that you have an undergraduate degree to qualify for the MFA program. Some, but not all, programs require an undergraduate degree in the same field of study (e.g. Bachelor of Arts in English). Most of these programs take two to three years to complete. Check out our list:
MFA Writing Programs
- Other Writing Programs
You don’t necessarily have to obtain a post-graduate degree to receive intensive instruction in writing. The following programs are not MFA programs, but they are longer programs offering more instruction than a single class, course, or retreat.
UCLA offers professional programs in screenwriting, a viable alternative to the UCLA MFA program. There is a year-long Professional Program in Screenwriting and a 10-week Summer Workshop in Screenwriting.
The WGA Showrunner Training Program is conducted in partnership with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. This important industry training program is designed to help senior-level writer-producers develop the skills necessary to become successful showrunners in today’s television landscape. It provides invaluable instruction from current showrunners and other industry veterans. Many SRTP graduates have gone on to create and/or run hit TV shows. Current-active WGAW or WGAE members with writer-producer credit or above on a current television series and/or an active studio or network pilot script commitment are eligible to apply. The program typically runs for six Saturdays in a row.
The New York Film Academy is a self-described "hands on film school" with a year-long screenwriting program. Over the course of the year, each student writes two feature length screenplays, plus one television "spec" script along with a number of treatments. The Academy also offers intensive programs lasting 8 weeks or 12 weeks as well as online courses.
NYU's Tisch School Of The Arts offers film students a variety of film & television programs, including a certificate in screenwriting. The workshop is designed for new screenwriters, offering particular emphasis on character and purpose and how this leads to conflict and the construction of plot. The program also emphasizes reading and analysis in conjunction with original work. The course covers the writing and completion of a full-length screenplay. There are also courses in Writing the One-Hour Television Drama and Introduction to Half Hour Comedy.
The Film School in Seattle offers a 3-Week Intensive Program. President John Jacobsen and Vice President Tom Skerritt will help you unleash your unique storytelling voice. Robert Redford serves on the Advisory Board.
The San Francisco Film Society offers classes in screenwriting, usually held one day or evening a week for two to three months. Film Society members receive a discount on classes.
Emerson College in Boston offers a Screenwriting Program through a series of non-credit workshops designed to build writing skills along with knowledge of the screenplay form and structure. Participants develop the ability to create scenarios and to analyze their own scripts as well as the work of others. Individuals may enroll in one or several multi-session workshops. The college also offers a one-week (five-day) intensive Certificate Program in Literary Publishing.
- Conferences, Individual Classes, Online Workshops
If you can’t make a long-term time commitment, there are plenty of weekend and evening classes, online courses, and writing conferences.
The Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe offers 12-hour Academy labs, 9-hour Mentor sessions, 90-minute specialized sessions, screenplay consultations, panel discussions, private pitches, live readings, and social events. IndieClub Pro Members should check out the Sponsor Company page as each annual conference nears (it’s usually held in the beginning of the summer), as Pro Members receive a sizeable discount.
Additional Screenwriting Conferences to Check Out:
Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference
Nashville Screenwriters Conference
Scottsdale Screenwriting Conference
Toronto Screenwriting Conference
TV Pitch School offers a home study course in TV development, packaging, and pitching. The course includes CD’s with lectures & interviews and printed materials, including sample treatments, bibles, one sheets, etc. Pro Members can visit the IndieClub Sponsor Company page to receive a discount off the home course. Additionally, the TV Pitch School offers live lectures and conferences around the nation. Check their website for upcoming events.
The University of Miami Online Screenwriting Workshop is led by Dr. Paul Lazarus, Director of U of M’s prestigious Motion Picture Program. Lazarus works one-on-one to assist you in planning and commencing your screenplay. Preparations for writing include a treatment, character development, a step outline of the entire screenplay, and a written and re-written first act of a feature-length screenplay (25-30 pages). Working online, each step will be submitted to Lazarus, who will provide comments and corrections.
IFP hosts an annual 2-day Script to Screen Conference. For a $150 weekend pass, the 2010 Conference included panels in development, pitching, directing your own script, and sustaining a screenwriting career.
The Romance Writers of America holds an Annual Conference that usually spans three or four days. Attendees can enhance their writing and knowledge of the ins and outs of publishing at more than 100 workshops; panels; round-tables featuring publishing professionals; one-on-one pitch meetings with an acquiring editor or literary agent; parties; book-signings; networking opportunities; and RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremonies.
- Panels and Q & A’s
Learn from the best. Go and listen to a successful writer talk about the process. Take notes. Ask questions. Leave motivated.
IFP is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to independent film. Local IFP chapters host regular events, including panels and Q & A’s with notable writers.
Women-in-Film is a non-profit membership organization with chapters around the U.S. WIF hosts regular events, including panels and Q & A’s with notable writers.
Script Magazine hosts panels in the L.A. area for writers of screen and TV.
WGA, the Writers Guild of America, hosts numerous Q & A’s, Meet & Greets, Writers On Writing Panels, and more. Non-members can usually attend these events at a slightly higher admission fee.
Film Festivals often offer panels, Q & A’s, guest speakers, etc. Check the festivals in your area for events that run in conjunction with the film screenings.
If we haven’t mentioned your favorite writing program, class, or conference, please use the Contact Us form to shoot us an email and let us know!
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