50 Habits of Successful Screenwriters

with Marnie Dickens, Debbie Horsfield, and Rachel Paterson
moderated by Jonathan Newman

50 Habits of Successful Screenwriters image

In this session, we will share 50 of the most useful and repeatable/learnable habits that drive writers ever closer to their chosen destination. Getting ideas down. Getting ideas developed into pitches. Getting pitches expanded into treatments. Getting treatments expanded into scripts. Getting scripts optioned. Getting options actioned and produced. Getting seen. Getting hired again… Some of it may be happenstance but make no mistake, routine and habit play a massive central role in success.

Get the intel. Get the edge. Get it written. Get it produced. Get signed. Repeat.

Appearing in this session

Debbie Horsfield

Debbie Horsfield – Screenwriter

Credits include Poldark; Sex, Chips & Rock 'n Roll; All The Small Things

Debbie is responsible for the BBC smash hit Poldark and is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright.
Debbie Horsfield
Marnie Dickens

Marnie Dickens – Screenwriter

Credits include Thirteen, Gold Digger

Marnie is the creator and writer of drama Thirteen that aired on BBC Three iPlayer, BBC Two and BBC America, starring Jodie Comer (Killing Eve). Her latest original drama series is Gold Digger.
Marnie Dickens
Rachel Paterson

Rachel Paterson – Screenwriter

Credits include Casualty

Rachel signed with Independent Talent in 2017 and started writing for Casualty in 2018. She has just finished her fifth episode as a core writer.
Rachel Paterson
Jonathan Newman

Jonathan Newman – Writer, Director

Credits include The Adventurer: Curse of the Midas Box, Foster

Jonathan Newman recently directed the $25m movie The Adventurer: Curse of the Midas Box.
Jonathan Newman

Screenwriting Practical Help

50 Page Turners… Making Your Script Unputdownable

50 Page Turners… Making Your Script Unputdownable

The story we choose to tell is compelling, or we would not choose to tell it in the first place. So what can we do to the words we write to elevate it into a page turner? Five experts reveal the 50 ways YOU can improve your script RIGHT NOW.  

Based on a True Story: Keeping It Real… Or Not

Based on a True Story: Keeping It Real… Or Not

How do screenwriters balance staying faithful to facts with making a narrative work dramatically? How many liberties can you take before leaving reality behind? A panel of some of the form’s best practitioners will discuss how they tackle these and other questions related to adapting stories based on real events.

Every Payoff Needs a Setup

Every Payoff Needs a Setup

If you have a problem with your end, you really have a problem with the beginning. Every payoff needs a setup. The more satisfying the payoff, and we all love a good ending, the more work the writers have done in the first thirty pages of the script.

First Impressions Matter… Delivering the Killer Opening Pages

First Impressions Matter… Delivering the Killer Opening Pages

In this session, we will be confronting many of the immediate reasons a producer, reader or exec might put down your script within ten minutes and reach for the next one on the pile.

How to Write Characters that Change Authentically and Satisfy Audiences

How to Write Characters that Change Authentically and Satisfy Audiences

Character transformation is at the heart of most screenplays, but why is it so important? Is character transformation just a tried and tested Hollywood formula based on outdated hero myths?

Mining for Meaning

Mining for Meaning

How exploring the innate yet immutable web of connections between genre, subject matter and theme can help you tell more engaging and profound stories.

Science(ish): Science Goes to the Movies

Science(ish): Science Goes to the Movies

Hollywood’s take on technology is more important than you think. William Goldman famously said that, in Hollywood, nobody knows anything. But it’s not true. Many of Hollywood’s directors, producers and screenwriters know a lot about science.

Small Canvas, Big Picture

Small Canvas, Big Picture

How to use stakes, scope and scale to tell BIG stories in small settings. Writing to get produced, even on lower budgets, will significantly improve your chances of getting your script to set. And everyone loves a high-stakes story in a smaller setting and reduced scale…

The DIY Script Doctor – How to Find and Fix the Flaws in Your Script

The DIY Script Doctor – How to Find and Fix the Flaws in Your Script

It’s not always easy to see them, but 90% of the flaws in your screenplay can be self-diagnosed, providing you know how to analyse a script.

The Primary Colours of Story 1: Knowledge Gaps and Subtext

The Primary Colours of Story 1: Knowledge Gaps and Subtext

A story is a conversation between a writer and an audience. A writer encodes using knowledge gaps. The audience decodes using subtext. That, right there, is the substance of every story ever made.

The Primary Colours of Story 2: Character

The Primary Colours of Story 2: Character

The writer’s principle means of generating story magic in the mind of the reader or viewer is through the choices made by compelling characters. In this session, you will discover the six questions you should ask each of your characters.

The Primary Colours of Story 3: The Role of the Audience

The Primary Colours of Story 3: The Role of the Audience

Ultimately, a story is built in the the audience’s imagination. They do all the important work long after the writer is gone and forgotten. Understanding how your story provokes the audience’s mind is both the magic of story and the key to great writing.

Develop Your Screenwriting Voice

Develop Your Screenwriting Voice

Is your well-written script still not getting you noticed? Film and television industry execs say they want distinct storytelling voices, but what do they mean and how do you develop yours?

It's a Mystery

It's a Mystery

Crime and thriller are the most popular genres in film and television. Discover the secrets of crafting a killer crime story and find out how to use mystery techniques to hook an audience… whatever your genre.

Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling

Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling

Pixar Studios is THE most successful filmmaking group in history. The biggest key to their success? Their understanding of and commitment to STORY. Learn how the master storytellers at Pixar employ these narrative dynamics to imbue their movies with compelling themes and universal emotional appeal.

Using Screenplay Style to Express YOUR Voice

Using Screenplay Style to Express YOUR Voice

Scene description offers a writer the opportunity to express their unique voice. How? Through the marriage of genre and style. Scott Myers debunks the mythical screenwriting ‘rules’ and demonstrates the ways in which successful professional writers convey their voice through screenplay style.

Write a Worthy Nemesis

Write a Worthy Nemesis

A well-drawn Nemesis will enliven a screenplay by functioning as a worthy foe to the Protagonist and creating the story’s central conflict. Learn how to think of the Nemesis as a projection of your Protagonist’s shadow enabling you to create a psychological connection between these two pivotal characters.

Write like a Pro Screenwriter Before You Turn Pro

Write like a Pro Screenwriter Before You Turn Pro

The best way to prepare yourself for a career as a professional screenwriter is to approach the craft as if you already ARE a professional screenwriter. With over thirty commissioned film and TV writing projects to his credit, Scott Myers will clue you into twenty-plus tips and techniques he has picked up over the years.

Stage Your Show at the Edinburgh Fringe

Stage Your Show at the Edinburgh Fringe

Whether you aspire to be an international superstar like Phoebe Waller-Bridge or a self-contained storyteller controlling every detail of your material, the path to success may just lead through the Edinburgh Fringe. Join this panel for a rollicking conversation about the thrills and pitfalls of bringing your project to Edinburgh.

There’s Never Enough Time, Money or Light: What ACTUALLY Happens to Your Script When It's Filmed

There’s Never Enough Time, Money or Light: What ACTUALLY Happens to Your Script When It's Filmed

In this unmissable, epic session, we breakdown a screenplay with an entire production team – cast, director, producer, production designer, costume designer, first AD… The whole team on stage as they translate the screenplay into a schedule and budget.

Writing Substance and Subtext

Writing Substance and Subtext

This session will explore how a screenplay can be written in such a way that it does not follow the standard hero’s/heroine’s journey structure of traditional Hollywood films, but instead reflects the essential characteristics of the protagonist through the use of motifs – or “fractals”.

Relive Your Childhood Fears to Write Horror

Relive Your Childhood Fears to Write Horror

Creating a scary horror screenplay is daunting. The universality of fear – ironically – makes it difficult to access in an audience. Join veteran independent horror writer/director Pat Higgins for cool tips on how to thrill and chill your audience. You may take a whole seat in this session, but you will only need… THE EDGE!

Write a Movie in 30 Days

Write a Movie in 30 Days

Finding time to get words on the page plagues us all. Join writer Pat Higgins as he guides you through the tricks and techniques he has developed in his decades in the business. He will show you how to get from vague idea to solid screenplay in 30 days without giving up the day job…AND how to have fun doing it.