Thursday, May 5, 2011

Screenwriting - Possibly A New Writing-Chapter Of My Life

About a year ago, while I was writing my thesis, I came across a German distance learning school that offered a one-year state-approved online study program in screenwriting. This course spooked around my mind for many weeks, but since I barely got through the month with the meagre pay I was earning, I decided to put it on the back-burner until I had a steady job and income.

Screenwriting is something I’ve always wanted to try, because I love movies as much as I love books. I might have studied screenwriting at the Ludwigsburg Film Academy if I’d had the courage to show others my writing at the time. I’m especially fascinated by the process of turning a book into a movie. I love seeing what movie producers make of a book; do they manage to capture the story’s essence, mood and characters, or do they tank it? Then there are great movies about which I wonder “would this story work as well as a book, even without the visual input?”

So, now that I have a steady income, I’m seriously considering going through with this course. Participants pay a - for me affordable - monthly fee for a year, with the first month being a free trial-period after which you can cancel the course if it isn’t what you expected. If you don’t manage the course in 12 months, you can extend it for another 6 without paying extra, which is a great deal for working people, in my opinion. At the end of the course, participants receive a graded certificate - in an English version, if you so wish.

I think that’s a pretty good deal. I know I could learn the basics in cheaper ways - by reading books and scouring the internet on the subject, like I’ve done with novel writing - but a course has one major advantage: you get timely feedback from people successful in their area of expertise. If it’s as professional as it sounds, I’m very willing to pay for it.

My only hesitation is on the point of timing - when do I start the course? From the school’s point of view, I can start at any time, which is great. But do I really want to give up my new-found working-woman’s free evenings and weekends, and leap right into studying again? I know that if this course is as I imagine, I’ll love it and will learn a lot. I also know I’ll want to give it my all, my best effort - and I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that yet. Once I start paying money for it, it will become an obligation - mostly a fun obligation, I expect, but there will probably be times when I won’t feel like racking my brain for it after a full day at work. Plus, summer is coming, and I like spending a lot of free time outside. I know for sure I won’t want to be stuck inside on a sunny weekend day, just because I might otherwise fall behind the curriculum.

On the other hand, I know it’s something I can manage and really really want to do.

I think I’ll mull over the possibilities a little more before deciding how, or rather when, to proceed. The great thing about a course like this is that there’s no pressure except that which I put on myself. I don’t have to do this, like a kid who has to go to school.

I want to do this. So I will - in the not too distant future. Doesn’t really matter if I start tomorrow or three months from now, does it?

Incidentally, Chuck Wendig over at Terribleminds recently blogged about What Novelists Can Learn From Screenwriters. So it seems this course could be more beneficial than just scratching an itch.


  1. I think you should go for it. The flexibility is wonderful, now if the quality of their teaching is as good...

  2. Several people who have taken the course are now screenwriters for German TV-series, so they must have learned something. :-)