Bela Lampert

Optioned Screenwriter
Yoga Instructor

The Best (free) Online (Screen-)Writing Classes

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The Best (free) Online (Screen-)Writing Classes

Becoming a professional creative (screen-)writer is quite an endeavour.

Part of what makes it so difficult is that there is no clear path to success.

When you want to become a school teacher, a language teacher, a lawyer, an accountant, … the path is pretty much laid out.

You just take the steps and if you put in the work eventually you get there.

No necessarily so with creative writing.

You might get paid as a screenwriter for years but your stuff never gets produces for a variety of reasons that are out of your control.

You might write 100 screenplays before a producer even takes a look at one (if at all).

But you can tip the odds in your favour.

Creative writing can be learnt.

For me, taking writing classes has made a great difference and has definitely shortened the learning curve.

But many are hesitant to spend money on writing education and in part I understand it. There are a lot of classes out there that might tell you a lot of theoretical stuff about writing but not how to apply it.

Which defeats the purpose in my opinion.

So let me share a couple of sources that in my very biased opinion are a great way to learn the craft of creative writing.

Most of the sources is geared toward screenwriting, but storytelling in and of itself doesn’t change.

Yes, the mediums are very different, books and screenplays. Which is also part of the learning process: how to judge to which of the mediums available a story lends itself best.

And there are a lot more possibilities than just books and movies of course.

Disclaimer

This is not an exhaustive list. In fact it’s very short.

On purpose.

It’s tempting to make lists such as “101 best writing sources on the internet” and nonsense along those lines.

But while this might be good for keywording for google it doesn’t help writers.

Because you’d feel overwhelmed by too much information.

My Personal Top 2 Free Online (Screen-)writing Classes

Before we start, one last thing. If you open those links, they won’t look like classes. Because they’re not designed as classes.

These are blogs by professional screenwriters. But what else is a class than a series of information on a specific topic?

So, just go through it bit by bit and keep learning on your own pace.

Advancing in your writing career is your own responsibility.

Free (Screen-)writing Class 1: Wordplayer

Go to www.wordplayer.com.

Wordplayer is Terry Rossio’s website. He wrote movies like Shrek, The Mask of Zorro, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Look for the “Columns” section of the website and read through each and every one of the articles.

You can also download them as simple text files so you should be able to read them on any device of software.

He shared invaluable insights into the industry and gives a ton of great screenwriting and storytelling advice.

Be aware that some articles are dated and some circumstances in the motion picture business might have changed since then.

Free (Screen-)writing Class 2: Scriptnotes

Go to www.johnaugust.com

This is John August’s website. He wrote Frankenweenie, The Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other movies.

There is a ton of great information on the website and he also hosts the “Scriptnotes” podcast together with Craig Mazin.

I encourage you strongly to listen in every once in a while since they give professional level advice.

If you don’t know where to start, go to this episode: https://johnaugust.com/2019/how-to-write-a-movie

There you are.

The two most valuable websites about screenwriting as far as I know.

Paid (Screen-)Writing Classes

I did a lot of writing classes, most of them haven’t even been worth the time I spent. Not even talking about the money.

But there are two that I want to recommend.

Paid Screenwriting Class 1: ScreenwritingU

Go to www.screenwritingu.com.

They have screenwriting classes about almost everything, just take a look to see what suits you.

If you want to give them a test run, just take get on their mailing list and they will send you information about free classes they’re doing.

I had great insight only from free classes.

Full disclosure, I did a couple of paid classes as well and I can really recommend them. The amount of knowledge they can give you, as well as writing career advice, is tremendous.

Paid Screenwriting Class 2: Jen Grisanti

Go to www.jengrisanti.com.

She has been working for Aaron Spelling’s company for a long time (the one that did the original “Beverly Hills 90210”) and she knows a lot about television script development.

She’s awesome at helping you find the emotional connection to your characters and your audience.

She also does script consulting.

I think she also has free offers from time to time.

Just go check her out. Highly recommendable.

What You Don’t Learn In Screenwriting Classes

What (almost) no screenwriting classes can teach you is the part that has nothing to do with the writing.

It has to do with developing as a person also, while you’re developing as a writer.

That means, finding your own methods of inspiration and how to develop your skills for consistent and deliberate periods of being inspired.

If you want to learn that:

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