The Next Draft with Johnny Shaw

Got a manuscript you can't crack? Stalled on your screenplay? In this four-week workshop, Johnny Shaw will teach you the art of the rewrite—where the real magic happens.

Your Instructor: Johnny Shaw, author of DOVE SEASON and BIG MARIA

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16 Students Maximum

Price: $350

Class Description

Writing is rewriting. 

People say it all the time, and it's true. Your first draft, it's like a big block of stone. Huge and unwieldy, but full of hidden possibility. The true art of the process comes from chipping away at the stone—the extraneous sentences, the non-essential characters, the navel-gazing tangents—and finding the story.

Your story is the sculpture inside the rock.  

And we've recruited Johnny Shaw to help you find it. He has an MFA in screenwriting and has lectured at Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara. He's the author of two highly-praised novels. One of which, Dove Season, was lauded by In the Woods author Tana French for "a smart, fluent rhythm and crackle that pull you forward, and it’s full of sharply observed and often very funny details. The author is excellent at creating a sense of place with a few deft strokes..."

Shaw knows how to edit his work down to a fine point--to find that sculpture inside the block of stone—and he'll show you how to do it too, in this four-week course that focuses on the skills necessary for a successful edit. 

Do you have a manuscript you can't crack? Are you sitting on a screenplay that's ready for another round of edits? Then this workshop is for you.

This class includes:

  • In-depth lectures from Johnny on the art of rewriting

  • Critiques from Johnny and your fellow classmates, so you can bring your work to the next level

  • Ongoing discussion and Q&A's

What This Class Covers

Week 1: Writing is Rewriting

  • Now that you have the stone, it’s time to sculpt
  • Don’t change sentences in chapters you will eventually cut
  • Expanding and exploring themes to their fullest potential
  • Integrate the parts of your story to make a cohesive whole
  • Pacing & clarity

Week 2: The Craft of Story Structure

  • Know the rules before you break them
  • Traditional dramatic three-act structure
  • Aristotle. That’s right, I said it. Aristotle
  • Seeing the story from a distance; how the parts make a whole
  • Structure as a tool for the pacing and momentum of your story

Week 3: The Scene is the Thing

  • Three minutes is a long scene (and whatever the equivalent is in a novel)
  • Finding the conflict and focusing in on it
  • The writer’s objective vs. the characters’ objectives
  • The function of the scene as it ties to the whole and the theme

Week 4: Character and Dialogue

  • People doing stuff, not characters in scenes
  • To be original, make the characters act like real people
  • Don’t get cute with the dialogue
  • Read it out loud. Have someone read it to you
  • Good dialogue illuminates what that characters aren’t saying
  • It can always be faster, it can always be funnier (even if it’s dramatic)

Goals Of This Class

  • A clear and concise knowledge of traditional three-act story structure, and the ability to create and use that structure to go beyond that tradition.
  • Essential tools for scene construction and pacing, that help to imbue each moment in a scene with conflict and momentum, using clear objectives.
  • Keys to developing characters and writing dialogue that illuminate what the characters aren’t saying, as well as what they are.
  • Finding the thematic strengths of one’s story and getting the most from the themes and getting to the heart of the most important question you face as a writer: Why the story exists.
About Our Classes Class FAQs