Basic Story Structure & Screenwriting

Learn the screenwriter’s craft in an intense and magical environment! Explore story structure, character development, the pitch and treatments with Wayne Beach or Janet Roach.

The basic foundation for all forms of filmmaking is the story. Led by an accomplished screenwriter, this one-week workshop immerses students in an intensive study of how to structure a story and approach the writing of a screenplay. 

During the day students explore concept, character, outlining, plot points, writing dialogue and action, the dynamics of scene and sequence, visual storytelling and screenplay format. Each evening the student writes an exercise or a scene to more fully engage with dynamics discussed in the day’s session. 

Principles explored will be equally applicable to scripts for small independent films as well as those for large studio films. The practical realities of the film and television industries are surveyed. By week’s end the students have learned how to pitch their stories, write treatments, and how to build ideas into finished film scripts.

Students emerge with an insider's view of the film industry as it relates to the screenwriter.


"I have been in the industry for over 20 years and I was still able to learn every day at MMW."
- John Papa, Providence, RI


Janet Roach

Janet Roach is an Academy Award Nominated screenwriter, teacher, lecturer and former documentary filmmaker for CBS and PBS. She has written over a dozen film scripts, of which five have been produced. Janet has also won the British Academy Award, and the Writers' Guild award for Outstanding Achievement in Screen writing. She was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay of Prizzi's Honor. She also wrote the scripts for Mr. North and the ABC television movie The Three Stooges

She taught screenwriting at Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and has taught both documentary filmmaking and master classes in screenwriting at the Maine Media Workshops for more than 20 years. She has also taught screenwriting master classes in Canada, Finland, Mexico, Poland and New Zealand.

A part-time resident of New Zealand, she is currently at work on a memoir, Swimming with Dinner, about the adventures she has shared with her husband in an isolated point of land on the North Island's Doubtless Bay.

Wayne Beach

Wayne Beach has written screenplays for Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, TNT, Fox 2000 Pictures, and Village Roadshow Pictures. He has developed projects for the makers of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, THE GREAT GATSBY, LAW & ORDER, THE FUGITIVE, SEVEN, OCEAN’S ELEVEN, PLATOON, THE MATRIX and THE PERFECT STORM.

His screenplay credits include MURDER AT 1600 (Warner Bros.) starring Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane, Alan Alda and Dennis Miller; and THE ART OF WAR (Warner Bros.) starring Wesley Snipes, Donald Sutherland and Anne Archer.    He wrote and directed SLOW BURN starring Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, Mekhi Phifer, Jolene Blalock, Taye Diggs and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film, his directorial debut, was released by Lionsgate and played 1100 theaters nationwide.

Having recently finished an assignment adapting THE GARDEN OF BETRAYAL, a new novel by Lee Vance published by Knopf, he currently has two television series in development with major producers attached.

Beach has taught screenwriting at Northwestern University and at Bates College, where he continues to serve as guest faculty.    He leads screenwriting workshops at Maine Media Workshops and also serves on the MFA faculty of Maine Media College.

Many of his former students have become successful writers, directors and producers working at the highest levels of film and television.    His screenwriting students have gone on to write hit movies and TV shows including THE VOW, HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, FRIENDS, BROTHERS & SISTERS, NEVER BEEN KISSED, VALENTINE’S DAY, GREEN LANTERN, DAWSON’S CREEK, EVERWOOD, ARROW, REVENGE, POLITICAL ANIMALS, GCB, BEVERLY HILLS 90210, JACK & BOBBY, ROSWELL, MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, and the forthcoming sequel to CLASH OF THE TITANS.