Tell Stories That Affect People
Screenwriting is a form of storytelling, and as everyone knows, storytelling is a kind of influence. Perhaps the oldest kind of influence that doesn't directly involve fucking. I approach storytelling and indeed all writing from the perspective of how it makes the reader think--and more importantly, feel--acknowledging that to deliver a message solidly is a true craft.
Formulae (e.g. three-act structure, eight beats, inciting incident, etc.) can sometimes help insofar as they give us a common language with which to work. It is important, however, to learn not from abstraction but from concrete example what actually makes storytelling work. That paint-by-numbers shit only goes so far.
Worst, the Industry loves to hire Money People who keep their eyes on the bottom line and salivate dreaming of the day when the screenwriter is replaced by an Excel macro.
To which I say: fuck that noise.
You, too, can learn to create, inspire, and change lives with your writing. You can be the Goat when every other pattern-slave Sheep out there is busy churning out the same story over and over and over, all looking suspiciously like Disney's classic Blank Check, starring Lieutenant Worf's son.
Hear this: learning to write properly for the screen is like learning to play music by ear.
With that in mind, the approach here at Goat Among Sheep is to "develop your ear." That is, to give you the tools to identify, disassemble, pinch, then make your own the tools of the greatest story craftspeople of the past century. Or any century, really, but the Victorians were pretty overblown and are best avoided.
How I Can Help
I've made a lot of mistakes in my writing life: not believing that I had a voice others wanted to hear, studying an undergraduate degree that I was terrible at (Physics, yo), going to Film School, etc.
None of these things really helped me to become the writer that I wanted to be. There were two things that kept me going: first, I had the overwhelming drive and compulsion to tell stories (I'm sure you can sympathize); second, a kindly screenwriting instructor told me there was "a certain something" in my writing when I was 19 and that I should seriously consider pursuing the craft more seriously.
You've probably had a similar experience or you wouldn't have read this far.
Now of course it took me another seven years or so to take my instructor up on his word and enroll at a UCLA beginners' screenwriting course and another full eight before I wrote anything remotely useful.
That of course implies a lot of bumps, bruises, wheel-spinning, and nonsense along the way. I'm here to help you avoid that.
Sometimes you need someone to kick your ass and just make you write some shit, even if it is a bit shit (Coaching). Sometimes you need someone to make sure your idea has legs enough to make it worthwhile (Concept Analysis). Sometimes you want to learn how to do this stuff in greater detail (Concept Course).
Or you can just sign up for the e-mail list and get subscriber-only essays, videos, and general hilarity. Come on, you know you want to. I'll even send you a free Concept Checklist to make sure you're on the right track.
Goats Among Sheep
Meet the team--or, more aptly, one-man band.
R. Garth Hand
Writer, Editor, Misanthrope
Garth is a graduate of the London Film School and has written seven feature scripts, four of which have been optioned by Hassan Said Productions.
In his spare time, Garth writes math books for people who hate math and rebuilds vintage motorcycles, much to the consternation of his neighbors.
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