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

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

What qualities make for a successful script editor? Perhaps you know what you like and don’t like but don’t have the film or TV industry-specific vocabulary to explain why. Are you new to script editing, moving over from theatre, or want to learn how to work more effectively with established and upcoming writers in the HETV sector? Maybe your role requires you to spot future hits at the script stage, or you need the story structure tools to help you develop more ambitious stories with larger, more complex teams.

We devised this seven week online CPD course to help develop all these professional skills and really elevate your storytelling, based on the principles of narrative set out in John Yorke’s bestselling book Into The Woods.

We start by taking everything back to basics – how to identify the key components every successful story must have, why a single blueprint underlies every archetypal story, and how to work with these essential elements to make stories that resonate with audiences worldwide.

You’ll gain a good working understanding of five-act structure, and practise applying these principles of narrative to diagnose and fix script problems within the context of a HETV drama production.

Along the way you’ll develop increased confidence in judging story ideas, distilling a story to its essence, working with writers and the wider team, and the complex art of giving useful notes.

This is not Zoom or video learning – we use a social-learning model featuring set assignments and discussion to weekly deadlines, with peer critiquing and tutor feedback in our virtual classroom, which we built specifically for teaching writing and editing skills.

Participants who successfully complete this CPD course receive a certificate of completion evidencing their learning and study hours.


Start date: 24 January 2022
Duration: 7 weeks
Skill level: Intermediate
Held: Weekly
Sessions: 6
Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)


John Yorke
Georgi Tandy

Work from our course team

Script Development Tutor Work
A man writing at a coffee shop

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

Read Caroline’s article on script editor clichés 

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
  • 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 larger scale stories
  • Need to understand storylining over a series
  • Want to discover why scripts aren’t working — and how to fix them
  • Would like to feel more confident in giving notes, including giving notes you’d rather not give
  • 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 a knowledge of archetypal story 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 a real HETV script.

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 any HETV story and understand what needs to be done to fix any problems. You’ll apply those principles by giving headline notes on an 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 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.
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 tutor.





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.

Read more on how we teach. 

See a full list of the materials and programmes you’ll need to complete this course.

You’ll learn from:

  • Short podcasts and videos from John Yorke, Caroline Young and other industry experts
  • Q&A session with a guest HETV writer
  • Practical exercises and prompts to help you experiment and practise your script skills
  • Carefully selected reading and viewing lists
  • Live Q&A chatroom sessions with your group and tutor
  • The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers
  • Weekly tutor input and detailed feedback on your script notes at the end of the course from your tutor and John Yorke
Join our alumni

After your course, you can join our online alumni community where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. You’ll be able to.

  • Rejoin your classmates in a private forum
  • Continue to access an archived version of your course materials
  • Meet alumni from other courses and share work for feedback
  • Join discussions about screenwriting, script editing and the industry
  • Attend live chats with guest writers and industry folk

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 take another John Yorke Story course, we’ll give you a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

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 for this course. Apply direct to ScreenSkills here, at least FOUR WEEKS before the course start date.

As this counts as CPD training, you may also be able to get funding from your employer to do it. See here for all our latest bursary and funding opportunities. 

Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)
Price: £50
Ask Us Anything

The script I’m working on is really dreadful. I thought that at the beginning of the course, but couldn’t say why. Now I realise, when going through the checklist, that the story is missing most of the checkpoints. We have no idea where the protagonist is going or why. I know how to fix this now.


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.

Matt Telfer’s top tips on becoming a script editor

Matt Telfer’s top tips on becoming a script editor

Becoming a script editor is many people’s first step in their career in TV and film, but how do you actually get your foot in the door? Story for Script Development tutor Matt Telfer explains the best routes into the industry and how to make the most of it in this special long-read article.

What do script editors do? – Interview with script development consultant Jessica Jones

What do script editors do? – Interview with script development consultant Jessica Jones

Script editors are an integral part of developing a writer’s initial idea into a truly compelling TV show or film. In this interview, John Yorke Story’s Katherine Press speaks with script editor and development consultant Jessica Jones about ironing out problems with writers, understanding how stories work and what questions you should be asking your script.

How to master five-act structure

How to master five-act structure

We work closely with all our students, and often go through topics in detail to help them better grasp them. In this one-to-one session, the John Yorke Story team work with a screenwriter as she masters some of the core elements of five-act structure: inciting incidents, moments of hope and despair, and the point of no return.

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