Bela Lampert

Optioned Screenwriter / Yoga Instructor

How To Find Good Writing Classes

I’ve done a lot of writing classes over the years and some of them have been very good and they helped my writing and my understanding of story a lot.

But others… Well…

The thing is it took me a while to realize what made the difference in all these classes (and also books that I read about the subject, by the way).

But now, looking back, I think there is one fundamental between the good ones and all the others.

But before I go into that I need to give you a disclaimer.

Yes, there are useful books and classes that give you a profound understanding of how story works and that may over time help you finding your own approach to dramatic writing. So I’m not saying that all the classes that don’t have that one element that I will talk about in a second, are absolute rubbish.

Although, some of them are…

What I’m saying is that in my experience, the classes that had this one element made me go ahead faster, and they had a more direct approach in how I can apply what I learned directly to my writing and immediately see a difference.

— End of disclaimer —

Back to the topic.

The one things that I’m talking about that made the most difference for me in terms of learning how to write was the marketplace.

The marketplace!

Let me explain that a little, just in case you’re now going, ‘what’? How in the holy world does the marketplace teach you writing? Those are two different things.

I don’t think that they’re different things. I’d even go as far as saying that the marketplace is the ONLY place that teaches you how to write.

And here is why:

In order to be a successful writer you need to sell (that is, if your definition of success has something to do with how much you earn from your writing, which, granted, doesn’t have to be the case).

So, what distinguishes the “more helpful” writing classes let’s say from the “less helpful ones” is one of the two things:

Either, going to the marketplace (and I’m talking about the real marketplace here, not some simulation – although a simulation is better than nothing) is part of the class so you learn how you feel then you do that and you bring your work out there.

You might even talk to some producers, publishers, … And start getting real market experience.

Or, second, you need a teacher who knows the marketplace because that person is there or has been there.

There are so many screenwriting teachers out there who are just teaching. And I’m not saying that I learnt nothing from them, in fact I learned some valuable stuff.

But when it comes to applying what you learnt to your writing and understanding why you need to write a certain way in order to sell your stuff, and also realizing if you write that way it’s a whole lot better writing than before… Well, I had that experience only in classes where we went to market or the teacher came from the industry either as a writer, or producer, who knows exactly what is needed in order to write good stories (that are successful!).

So, my 2 cents on how to choose dramatic writing classes.

What else is important?

Know your tools and processes, so you can write more in less time (read: ‘earn more with less work’).