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I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.     Flannery O'Connor

People often think that creating a story happens in a similar way to how we consume them – where one exciting thing follows another from start to finish. But in fact, crafting a truly satisfying story requires a fundamentally different, structural approach that takes into account why human beings love and need stories so much. 


Your skeleton is invisible, but without it you’d have no form or function. Similarly, all good stories have hidden structures that are fundamental to their success, structures that create meaning. 


This week will be about learning these specific structural tools and ways of thinking about story, and then using these tools simply and rigorously to develop your own original story from first idea to basic outline.


The course is suitable for anyone who wants to learn how to craft compelling, dramatic or comic stories – fiction and non-fiction writers, storytellers, playwrights, theatre-makers and screenwriters. It is an introduction and overview that teaches the habits of mind you will need to become a successful teller of stories; the rest is practice and application. 


During the first half of each afternoon, we will cover the fundamental principles of how to create original stories through tuition, discussion, exercises and examples from film, theatre and fiction; in the second half of each session, we will focus on helping each person develop and refine their own story idea through exercises, coaching and additional teaching. Exercises will be set each day, outside of class. 


You do not need to start the week with a story idea, however, you are welcome to bring an idea you are already working on. 

Areas the course covers include:

  • what stories are for and why people crave them

  • how to engage your audience or reader so they care

  • what key questions to ask when first designing a story

  • how to create memorable characters and why you have to make life really difficult for your protagonist

  • develop an organic 'unity of action' that leads to a memorable and satisfying ending

  • find a central dilemma that can help drive your story

  • understand theme, world and genre

  • learn how structure and character are two sides of the same coin ​

  • understand text and subtext

  • ways of thinking about scenes and how to link them

  • find ways of developing your own authentic voice

  • create all the key steps of your story and pitch it

Jonathan is an experienced scriptwriter, with a background in theatre and movement. After training with Jacques Lecoq in Paris, he ran a touring theatre company for 11 years from 2001-12, creating and writing original work, as well as working with other UK companies as a performer. He also works as a movement/theatre teacher at Embodied Poetics and LAMDA, as a Feldenkrais practitioner, and a theatre director and dramaturg


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