Writers Academy 2

Thursday 15 January 2009, 15:15

Ceri Meyrick Ceri Meyrick

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What script should I send in?

Thought I'd spend some time this week talking about the kind of sample script you should send in with your applications to the Writers Academy.

Your sample script is the most important part of your application. You need to send us your absolute best work, and the piece that says the most about you as a writer. It does not need to be a television script, but it does need to be a drama. Radio, theatre and film scripts are all fine. We don't have a minimum, or maximum length, though, from experience, short film scripts don't usually give us enough to go on, and, as discussed in the comments last week, overly long scripts are a bit off-putting. It also needs to be an original piece of work, rather than an episode of an existing series or a trial script.

When the applications come in, we (our team, plus some Writersroom readers) shut ourselves away for several days and read the first ten pages of every script. If we want to keep reading a script, we then pass it on to the next stage. This cuts down the number of scripts from about 500 to around 200. These are then circulated amongst the Script Editors across the Drama Department and each script gets two full reads from two different people. I try and read as many of these as is humanly possible! We then short-list down to around 30 writers who are invited to the workshop days. We then select about half of these to come to a final interview. The whole process takes around two months. If your script gets you through to the final interview, I worked out that it will have been read by at least 10 different people. Hence the long selection process!

So, the first ten pages of your script is crucially important. Look at Paul Ashton's fab blog on "The Perfect Ten" for some tips on this.

What are we looking for?

- To want to keep reading after 10 pages
- Great dialogue
- Characters that we care about
- Stories that hook us
- The ability to put emotion on the page

It's also important to point out that your submitted script does not have to be the same script that qualifies you to apply for the course - which you may not feel is your best work.

I was going to talk about what we accept as a professional qualification this week, but I've had a few questions on this, so I think I'll deal with this in more detail in my next blog... so any more questions on that, sling them my way...

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    Comment number 1.

    Thanks for this, Ceri.

    My question about the qualifying criteria is:

    I have won a short story competition and had it read out at an awards ceremony by an actor. I've also been placed and shortlisted in other writing competitons. Does this qualify for entry into the Writers' Academy?

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    Comment number 2.

    Antoniablue, I quote from the writersroom page about the Writers' Academy:

    "You are eligible to apply if you have had your work broadcast on television or radio, or performed professionally at the theatre."

    It doesn't say anything about having a short story read out at an awards ceremony or being shortlisted in competitions etc. I don't really know how much clearer they can be. I don't mean any offence but to be blunt, all the information is there, you just have to read it.

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    Comment number 3.

    Thanks so much for enlightening me, GuineaPig, but I'll wait for a response from Ceri if it's okay with you, as my winning short was read out in a theatre, so one never knows, does one?

    Oh, and no offence meant from me either.

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    Comment number 4.

    Some good advice Ceri - particularly "putting emotion on a the page". Heart counts for so much when reading scripts I think, it can carry a story through other ailments it has like craft issues. But stories with heart stay with you.


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    Comment number 5.


    A short story wouldn't qualify I'm afraid. It needs to be a drama script.


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