When I went on a script writing weekend… lessons learned

Last weekend I spent three days at Whalley Abbey in Blackburn, Lancashire with Scriptwriting North. Fourteen of us arrived fresh for writing, table reads and some lovely food. But what we got was much, much more.

We started with a workshop in character, which was very useful, particularly when it got practical. I mapped out the central character in my new screenplay and it really helped to form ideas. 

Next we had a table read and acted out each other's screenplays. Hearing the dialogue is an exciting and illuminating experience - what works on the page doesn't always work on the table read. The notes were useful and there was a chance to air the changes in a second table read. 

Those of us who brought treatments got feedback on our ideas and learnt a lot about layout and what others include. 

There was plenty of time for writing and I easily reached my target on 10k over three days. It's difficult to explain how Whalley Abbey inspired me and enhanced my creativity. But I wrote several new chapters and a new full length feature treatment, as well as changing my screenplay.

Between sessions there was time for chatting with other writers and this was absolutely invaluable. Writing can be isolating, and while there are beta readers to discuss manuscripts and scripts with, often there is no one to discuss the ins and outs of the industry.

Scriptwriting North works with writers at all levels, and all the writers were a lot of fun and open to discussion. I found out so much about the way scripts are progressed, and just as much about the barriers. The weekend was a raging success on all levels and I want to share some of the things I learned with you:

  • Everyone gets notes and notes are useful. They are critique not criticism and a positive development
  • Reading out loud is one of the most useful things you can do with your work
  • Other writers want you to succeed and are joyful at your success. When I updated everyone on the progress of Perfect Ten, they were delighted
  • Just like me, all writers, no matter what level they are at, get rejections and disappointments. It's all relative of course, but these are learning opportunities and not failure

So thank you to Beth and Gareth and to everyone who attended the weekender, here's to next time!