Learn the script-development and story-shaping skills you need to thrive in the booming HETV drama arena

A new generation of high end TV (HETV) shows is transforming how TV drama is conceived and made — drama is more ambitious than ever, requiring bigger stories and larger, more complex teams. John has worked with experienced script editor Caroline Young to devise a course that will give you the skills to succeed in this growth area of TV production.

Over seven weeks you’ll learn all the story-structure and note-giving skills you need. You’ll become familiar with the key components of five-act story structure and how to put them together to create a successful story. You’ll work out what makes stories resonate with TV audiences worldwide, then apply those principles to diagnose and fix script problems within the context of a production.

Along the way you’ll develop increased judgement and self-confidence in selecting and presenting story ideas, distilling a story to its essence, working with writers, collating revisions on a script, pitching to a wider team, and giving and receiving notes.

This is a professional development course and so you may be able to get funding from your employer to do it. Your place may also be eligible for funding from Screenskills.

All participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion evidencing their learning and study hours.

Course Director John Yorke

Course Leader Caroline Young

Course Moderator Katherine Press


Start date: 27 January 2020
Duration: 7 weeks
Skill level: Intermediate
Session length: Weekly
Sessions: 6

Special early bird price
(Ends 3 January 2020)
Price: £900 £765 (inc. VAT where applicable)



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Good script editors are the unsung heroes of television drama – they can quite literally make the difference between a script that works and a script that doesn’t.

Caroline Young
Course Leader


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. 

Story for Script Development is for anyone working in (or who wants to work in) TV drama, including editors, script readers, development assistants, trainee script editors, researchers, storyliners, story assistants, story supervisors and anyone else looking to learn the mechanics of story structure and apply that practical understanding to high end TV drama.

We teach this course in groups of up to 15 people. You can book as an individual or block-book a dedicated class exclusively for your team.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Are a trainee script editor, researcher or story assistant and want to learn how to plan and structure drama scripts
  • Are responsible for making high end TV drama, including editors and series producers
  • Want to move into HETV and learn more about the story expectations of the market and audience
  • Would like to sharpen your five-act story structure skills and learn how to work with large-scale stories
  • Want to understand storylining over a series
  • Need to discover why scripts aren’t working — and how to fix them
  • Want to get better at collating and presenting notes, including giving notes you’d rather not give
  • Need to gain experience and confidence in working with writers
  • 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

You’ll discover the underlying structure of all successful stories, learn the essential elements every HETV drama needs, and practise applying this understanding to your work in script development.

Throughout the course you’ll study real-world scripts that work — and some that don’t — to help you understand how thinking in story terms can help you identify and tackle problems, and make your note-giving more effective at all stages of the development process.

Along the way, you’ll be working within a supportive community keen to share their experiences.

Session 1: Introduction to storytelling
We start by thinking about the grammar of storytelling and the essential elements every story needs. We’ll look at the HETV script production process and the role of the script editor and other team members. This session is also about introducing yourself and your current role in the script process.
Session 2: Basic building blocks
In the second session we build on the basic building blocks used in dramatic storytelling. By the end of the session you’ll understand what makes a good HETV story – and what doesn’t. We’ll also look at the HETV market and audiences, and the specific opportunities and constraints the form presents. We will ask you to make notes on an HETV script, which you will revise towards the end of the course.

At the end of Session 2 there is a Tutor Q&A.

Session 3: Fixing stories that don’t work
This session is about being able to see if a story works – or how to ‘break a story’. You’ll learn the 10 key questions to ask every story and by the end of the session should be able to deconstruct a HETV story and understand what needs to be done to fix any problems. You’ll apply those principles by giving headline notes on a real HETV script.
Session 4: Mastering three and five-act structure
In this session we break down a story into first three and then five acts and look at why the midpoint and turning points are such important elements in a script. We’ll introduce key ways to read an HETV script and look at storylining across different-length series. Practical exercises include breaking a script into five parts and giving notes to an important writer who’d rather not hear them.

At the end of Session 4 there is a Q&A with John Yorke.

Session 5: Giving and receiving notes
In this session we look at ways of acting on notes – to make scripts better not just different. We’ll assess a script at scene level and think about the merits of seeing a story from the character’s perspective. We’ll look too at the script-editing process from the viewpoint of the writer and the wider team. You will return to the script we asked you to make notes on in Session 2, and revise your notes in line with what you have learned.
Session 6: Putting it all together
In this recapping session, John offers his top tips for checking whether a story is as good as it can be. We hope these tips will inspire you to look at stories and scripts with a fresh eye. At the end of the session you will submit notes on a live script to see how far you’ve come, and receive written feedback notes from your tutors.





At the end of this session, there will be a Q&A with an HETV writer.

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 Caroline Young and other industry experts
  • Written guidance notes and carefully selected reading and viewing lists
  • Practical exercises and prompts to help you experiment and practise your script skills
  • Guided discussions with your group
  • Weekly tutor input and feedback on your final assignment in each session
  • Live chat with your tutor and a script executive, and a Q&A forum with John Yorke
  • The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers
  • Detailed feedback on your final script notes at the end of the course from your tutor and John Yorke

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 and The Crown
  • 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 £765 (inc. VAT where applicable)

Price: £50

Ask Us Anything


I really have enjoyed the course. The content has been fantastic and the feedback incredibly helpful… I’ve managed to secure a couple of weeks on a production, shadowing with the Script Team in children’s drama, so that I can put some of what I’ve learned into practice.


It has been so fascinating to see just how much changes between a first draft of a script and the final TX.


I’m honored to have learned from such an experienced team. I definitely learned a lot and feel a sense of satisfaction after receiving the notes on my final assignment. I’m out there now applying for more reading jobs.


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