Screenwriting Workshops: Are They Worth It?
Screenwriting is arguably one of the biggest challenges for a person to set out and do. It’s a lengthy process that requires finite attention and detail, skill, and a true passion for writing. Thankfully, there are plenty of screenwriting tutorials and workshops available to the public to help their writing.
Still, many are confused if the workshops are worth it or not. After all, investing any bit of money into anything will lead to some doubt, no matter how praised that particular area is. Nevertheless, below will discuss if screenwriting workshops are worth it and what you should know about the process.
Photo credit: Maine Media Workshops
How Screenwriting Workshops Work
Before discussing if screenwriting workshops are worth it, you need to know how they actually work. The notion of a workshop can be expansive, with most screenwriting workshops varying from what they promise. Still, most do share some commonalities in what you can expect.
Apply - Like anything else, every screenwriting workshop begins the same with you applying. Look into what the specific workshop requires since some are stricter with who they accept than others. You’ll have to answer a few questions such as your aspirations, current script, etc.
Focus On Your Script and Others - Once you’re officially in the workshop, the process begins with a central focus on what you and your fellow students are working on. The professor or leader of the workshop will introduce themselves and their background and focus on what everyone is working on.
Writing and Thinking Discussions - After mutual trust has been established between everyone, there tends to be group writing and thinking discussions about your stories. Here is where your fellow students and professors can discuss what they like and don’t like about your story idea.
Critiques - Critiques are the central point of a screenwriting workshop, with the professor taking a close look at your script. The critique revolves around your story, characters, writing, format, and anything else that has to do with your script. You may find some harsh criticism, but that’s the point.
Fine-Tuning - After you’ve heard a boatload of criticism from your professor, much of the class comes with fine-tuning your script. The fine-tuning portion can be a lengthy one, but by the time the class ends, you’ll have a much stronger script. Being a better writer is the entire point of the workshop, after all.
Great Script Examples - Besides specifically looking at everyone’s script, the workshop will most likely examine great script examples that are specific to your story or genre. Examining great work can help you understand what works and doesn’t work in that particular setting.
When deciding which workshop is best, you must examine its overall reputation. Just about every screenwriting workshop has an online reputation for people to look into to see if it’s worth the investment. If the workshop has glowing reviews, then you should consider it.
On the other hand, if there are several issues with the workshop and people talking badly about it, you should move on. The reputation is there for a reason, so definitely take the time to see if it’s worth your time or not. Don’t join a workshop for the pure sake of being a part of a workshop.
What Do You Get Out Of It?
At the end of the day, the entire point of joining a workshop is to benefit yourself with writing. You have to ask what you’re getting out of the workshop and expect from the experience. If it’s a layered course with criticism, advice, and a group learning experience, you may find it to be beneficial.
If it’s a quick look at your script and nothing else, then you may want to reexamine what you get out of it. Some workshops offer extensive meetings with natural producers and professional writers. Still, again, it all depends on what route you go with. Take a look, weigh out the pros and cons, and decide.
What’s Your End Goal?
Besides asking yourself what you get out of it, you need to know your end goal. If you’re strictly looking to improve your writing as a hobby, a relaxed workshop can undoubtedly do that. If you aspire to become the next Aaron Sorkin, you should seek out highly established workshops.
Lastly, if you’re someone who doesn’t have any true aspirations but just enjoys writing scripts for fun, then a workshop may be a waste of time. It all depends on your ultimate end goal and what you hope to do moving forward. Regardless, be mindful of what you plan on doing and how the workshop can help.
Screenwriting workshops are worth it as long as they have a decent reputation and offer several components that’ll greatly benefit your writing and screenwriting career. Suppose you only look to writing as a hobby. In that case, a workshop may be a waste of money unless it’s an extremely relaxed environment for hobbyists.