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Find out why all successful stories share an underlying structure – and how to apply the principles to your own scripts for TV, film and stage.

Over four months you’ll absorb the grammar of storytelling and discover the essential elements every story needs to transfix an audience, wherever they are in the world. You’ll learn to spot why stories aren’t working and understand how to fix them. Finally, you’ll write a treatment for an original drama and get feedback notes from John Yorke and his team.

There’s a balance of theory – the five-act structure ideas set out in John Yorke’s acclaimed book, Into The Woods – with highly practical exercises based on films and TV drama everyone knows, from Jaws and The Godfather through The Crown to classic continuing drama like EastEnders and The West Wing.

John and tutors are on-hand throughout to answer your questions, feedback on your assignments, and provide notes on your treatment at the end of the course.

This is a professional development course and so you may be able to get funding from your employer to do it. All participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion evidencing their learning and study hours.

Course Director John Yorke

Course Tutor Kieran Grimes

Course Moderator Katherine Press

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You can’t teach writing – you either have the talent to write, or you don’t. What you can be taught is a greater knowledge of the tools you need, the theories behind storytelling – and how to apply those theories to help your practice. That’s what we do on this course.

John Yorke

Course Director

 john yorke, into the woods, tv producer, story for bvusiness, screenwriting, story for tv, creative skillset, university of the arts london, ma drmatic writing,c ompany pictures, BBC


Start date: 20 April 2020
Duration: 16 weeks
Skill level: All
Session length: Fortnightly
Sessions: 7

Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)



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screenskills funding bursary opportunities

This course has been made possible by the support of Screenskills, and has been approved as part of an informal or formal continuing professional development (CPD) programme.

You may be eligible for a training bursary of up to £1000 for this course. Apply direct to ScreenSkills here, at least FOUR WEEKS before the course start date. 

We’ve developed Story for Screenwriting: Advanced Structure to help anyone who writes scripts or develops drama and would like to know more about how and why basic storytelling principles work. Whether that’s for film, TV or stage, and whether you’re new to the craft, a more experienced practitioner looking for a back-to-basics refresher, or are looking to move into drama from another area of TV or film. We teach this course in groups of up to 15 people. You can book as an individual, or you can block-book a class for your team. We find that production companies enrol teams to unify their approach to telling dramatic stories. The course is suitable if you:

  • Are involved in developing drama, including as a writer, producer, director, editor, technician, actor or executive
  • Are new to writing drama and want to learn how to plan and structure your stories
  • Would like to sharpen your screenwriting skills and master five-act story structure
  • Want to learn how to see the underlying framework behind all stories everywhere
  • Need to discover why your stories aren’t working — and how to fix them
  • Want to gain the confidence to create your own stories
  • Would like to find out how to write a professional treatment
  • Are looking for a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) course
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course
Your tutor will introduce you to how story structure works in every story everywhere, teach you the essential building blocks needed to write a compelling narrative and fix broken stories, and guide you as you write a treatment for your own TV or film drama. You’ll be working within a supportive community of fellow writers keen to share their experiences with you.

Session 1: Introduction to story part 1
This first session is about reading, watching, thinking and experimenting. You’ll start by learning the grammar of storytelling and the essential elements of a story, and experiment with summing up a protagonist’s wants and needs.
Session 2: Introduction to story part 2
This session builds on the basic building blocks of the archetypal story identified in Session 1, examining structural form in more detail. We’ll look at the inciting incident, the character’s journey and story endings (crisis, climax and resolution).
Session 3: Essential story tools
This is about ‘breaking’ a story into its component parts to see whether it’s working as well as it could. You’ll also experiment with three-act structure. By the end of this session you should be able to deconstruct a story.
Session 4: Five act structure
Now we break down a story into five acts and look at why this is such an invaluable tool for storytellers. Practical exercises include identifying turning points and midpoints and rewriting a TV soap episode in five parts.
Session 5: Building stories
We introduce the basic building blocks of stories – scenes – and explain why you need to get inside characters’ heads to make them work. You’ll use the knowledge you’ve gained to plan an original story.
Session 6: Top 25 story tips
By now you should know how to create your story, test its elements to make sure it works, and structure it into beats, scenes and acts. This session offers simple tips that will inspire you to look at stories and scripts with a fresh eye. If you have a problem with a story, this session will provide the solution.
Session 7: Developing your own treatment
We look at the difference between a synopsis and a treatment, then learn the rules for writing a successful treatment.





At the end of the course you’ll submit a treatment for an original drama (TV or film) and receive detailed written feedback from John and your tutor.


We teach this course in our online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can fit learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the weekly sessions.

You’ll learn from:

  • Short podcasts from John Yorke
  • Short videos from John Yorke and/or other industry experts
  • Written guidance notes and carefully selected reading and viewing lists
  • Practical exercises and prompts to help you experiment and practise your skills as you work toward developing your own story treatment
  • Guest lectures from industry experts
  • Guided discussions with your group
  • Live chatroom sessions with your group and tutor to give you the opportunity to ask questions
  • The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers
  • Detailed tutor feedback on your treatment at the end of the course

You’ll need:

  • 5-7 hours per week to work through the course
  • A notebook and pen or pencil, if you like to make notes by hand
  • Access to the following films on DVD or via streaming sites:
    • Jaws, Aliens, Cars, Million Dollar Baby and The Godfather
  • A laptop or computer* with:
    • A reliable broadband internet connection
    • Speakers or headphones
    • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
    • Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
    • Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
    • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free
    • Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher
  • *You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.


Join our alumni

After your course, you can join our online alumni where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within our online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guests here

Mentoring and one-to-one feedback

The John Yorke Story tutor team offer mentoring, script reads and reports. We are happy to quote by job or script, or to arrange a longer mentoring scheme as you work on a specific story idea. We’ll create a package to suit you, so for more information please email

Taking things further

If you’d like to continue on to another John Yorke Story or Professional Writing Academy course, we’ll give you a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)

Price: £50

Ask Us Anything


The course has really helped me move strides ahead in my writing. I wasn’t completely sure of this until my co-writer stopped me in mid-structural-analysis of an episode of a comedy series and asked me which lesson of the course had made me so good at analysing structure.


This course is kind of like getting under the hood of a car to identify how the engine works. I never imagined story craft could be so involved and rigorous. The course certainly has taught me the value of a deadline and the importance of simplicity, clarity, focus and depth. I have come away from it so much better off than when I started, and the clarity and depth of the notes on my assignments were invaluable.


Answering John’s 10 questions made coming up with a story a quantifiable task rather than a kind of alchemy and holding a wet finger up to the wind. I’m not saying I’ve written a great story, but at least I feel confident that it could work. Brilliant, brilliant lesson.


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