The Write Journey: 12 Steps To Writing The Perfect Story

During the last 20 years The Writing Studio has shaped the successful careers of many of South Africa’s leading filmmakers and storytellers, and is now honing the skills of future writers in the art and craft of storytelling.

Following in the tradition of 20 years of extensive workshops throughout South Africa, and courses internationally, The Write Journey is an interactive course for writers who would like to write a screenplay for feature film or television, and is ideal for novelists and playwrights.

The Write Journey is an interactive, intimate and introspective journey into the world of story, empowering writers to take ownership of the creative journey, and creative expression.

  • Ideal for writers who want to write for film or television.
  • It is ideal for novelists and playwrights who would like to adapt their stories into a visual medium.
  • It is perfect for first-time writers who would like to define their writing skills, and also recommended for seasoned writers who are trapped in the web of re-writes and unfinished projects, or lost in the maze of the daunting writing process.

What is the secret of The Write Journey?

The Write Journey not only offers a journey into the world of story, but is equally an introspective exploration into what it takes to be a writer.

It is about turning ideas into a successful story while learning about yourself in the process, fostering an organic process of writing your story from the inside out, and not from the outside in.

It’s uniquely two courses blended into one: Firstly, taking an insightful and inspirational journey into what it takes to be a writer, and secondly, an up-to-date exploration of what it takes to craft a story from inspiration to final draft, examining all the building blocks required to write a story that is ready for producing and publishing.

It explores the full dramatic or comedic potential of stories and empowers storytellers to write a compelling story that will reflect the uniqueness of their culture, history and experience.

The Write Journey is not just about learning how to write but learning to write and market yourself in a way that is attractive to managers, producers, and studios.

The 12 Steps

STEP ONE: Who are you as a storyteller and storymaker?

Let’s take a closer look at who you are as a writer and your writing. If you want to be a writer, there are some basics you must know from the outset, before start thinking about writing your masterwork. Once you have explored the fundamentals of a well-crafted story and examined how inspiration inspires creativity, you are ready to take an introspective journey into who you are as a writer and explore your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. 

STEP TWO: What does it take to be a screenwriter?

Now you can find your home in the creative universe by looking at what medium you are capable of writing for, and what medium will showcase your story best.  You will take a closer look at the writing process vs the film process / getting you writing published; screenwriting and filmmaking in South Africa; the magical world of films and filmmaking; the language of the visual medium and how to read a film; and end this unit with evaluating and analysing a film of your choice.

STEP THREE: What type of story you are writing and who you are writing for?

Now it’s time to develop your story and explore the building blocks that build story. Before you start developing the idea you have for a story, you need to know what genre you want to set your story in, what type of story you want to write, and look at who you are writing for, your audience/ reader.

STEP FOUR:  What do you want to write?

Now it’s time to deconstruct your idea and take a closer look at what you want to write; develop the premise of your idea, conceptualise and dramatise your idea, explore your theme, your thematic purpose, and find a catchy title that will get people to listen to your story or read your script.

STEP FIVE:  Who are you writing about?

Now it’s time to focus on the people who live your story and identify your characters: Protagonists, Heroes and Anti Heroes; Antagonists and Villains; and supporting and function characters. You will explore elements that define who the people in your story are, what their function in the story is, and what makes them unique; look at how visual dynamics can strengthen your characters; and how to write character biographies, and how characters express themselves verbally. You will end this unit with how to research your idea and characters.

STEP SIX : How do you structure your story?

Now it’s time to look at structure. You will look at: The importance of structure, the relationship between character and structure, the relationship between structure and screenplay, composition – the ordering and linking of scenes, turning points and transitional Values.

STEP SEVEN: How do you plot your story?

Now it’s time to take a closer look at plotting your story, controlling your story creatively. You will explore: The differences between story and plot, what a plot represents, different genre plots, and four different plots to structure your story, the relationship between plot and subplots and 14 structural points /structural signposts that will help you to write a solid story outline.

STEP EIGHT: How do you outline your story?

Before you start writing your story outline, it is important to familiarise yourself with story events. Now it’s time for you to write a story outline. The function of your story outline is to write what happens in your story from opening to ending, identifying the story events (scenes) of the most important events in your protagonist’s life.

STEP NINE: How do you create a card outline?

Now it’s time to make the most of your story events and begin a card outline. The function/ goal of the card outline is to build and dramatise each event, and to explore the exterior and internal lives of your story.  You will identify the line of dramatic action, complete with a beginning (set up), middle (confrontation) and end (resolution), opening and closing story values, turning point, explore the characters in each event: Who drives the event, and who causes the resistance or conflict in the scene?              What the motivational action of each character is, identify the internal and external conflict and how the scene reflects or amplify the theme?

STEP TEN: How do you write your first draft?

You will look at the process of writing and re-writing your first draft, and the importance of formatting your draft.

STEP ELEVEN: The secret of standing out as a screenwriter.

There’s one single secret way that you as a screenwriter can stand out among the tens of thousands of other screenwriters trying to make it in Hollywood and beyond. How can you possibly stand out among all those people to get into those Hollywood walls and sell a script or be hired to write one on assignment?

STEP TWELVE: How do you take ownership of your story

Let’s take a closer look at copyright, writing a professional Top Sheet with confidence and clarity, how to market your screenplay and sell yourself as a writer.

You will then write the first 10 pages of your screenplay and submit it to your coach for evaluation before you continue writing your first draft. 

Your coach will be available for questions during the process of writing your draft and keep you updated with relevant features on the world of writing and filmmaking.

Take a look at the success stories of writers and filmmakers who have taken The Write Journey

How Does The Course Work?

  • There are 12 units (with sub-sections); each section consists of user-friendly and comprehensive notes that includes self-tasks (which you complete at your own time), and a task.
  • You will read through the notes which include self-activities (for you to complete in your own space and at your own pace) and tasks (for you to complete and forward via email).
  • Once your coach has read through your task and there are no questions pertaining to the specific unit, you commence to the next step.
  • The course begins as soon as we receive your registration form and deposit details.
  • You will have the choice of commencing at your own pace or work according to set deadlines.
  • The course is done via email correspondence, offering a one-on-one interaction between yourself and your coach.

Send us an email for the full agenda and registration details


‘’You are amazing – an independent creative force in a world of one liners – a lonely soul driven by the magic of the word and the honesty of a true intellectual. I salute you for all that you are …and I honour you for all that you are not!” Jans Rautenbach, veteran filmmaker, Katrina, Jannie Totsiens, Die Kandidaat, Abraham

Daniel Dercksen with Jans Rautenbach during a Masterclass For Screenwriters at the Artscape Theatre Centre, 2014

‘’’After The Write Journey I had a much better understanding regarding the basic principles of writing for film.  With a good foundation you give yourself the opportunity to explore any genre.  I’m for that reason extremely grateful for what I learned at your workshop.” Producer, writer and director Sallas de Jager, Free State, Roepman, Verraaiers, Musiek vir die agtergrond and Stuur Groete aan Mannetjies Roux, Dominee Tienie

Producer-writer-director Sallas de Jager

‘’I started my “formal” training at a short course in writing from The Writing Studio at fifteen. It gave me a better understanding of how visuals are used to tell a story. No one dreamed or thought I am going to be making films .” Writer-director Henk Pretorius, Leading Lady, Bakgat! Bakgat 2, Fanie Fourie’s Labola, Producer of Modder en Bloed  – attended first workshop in 1998 

Producer-writer-director Henk Pretorius

Very interesting course which is far more about the mental approach behind writing than a step-by-step formula for a successful screenplay. There are no time constraints so on one hand you have plenty of time to consider your assignments carefully but you also have to learn to motivate yourself (not a bad thing to learn if you’re planning to ever be a writer). Richard Starkey. Award-winning Film Editor/ Post Supervisor/ Colourist
The Writing Studio’s screenwriting course is intensive and inspiring. Watch your story idea unfold and become a screenplay. Daniel is part wizard, part genius, part teacher, and part man-with-big-stick who keeps prodding you to focus, focus, focus. Dorothy De Kock

“For anyone looking to venture in to the arena of script writing, this course is a must. You can learn only so much off the Internet, and while there are great resources available, they are often hard to understand, contain a great deal of reading, and sometimes not be comprehensive enough. The Write Journey is a must for anyone who wishes to seriously consider writing screenplays (and while my intent at the workshop was for films, both feature and short, the principles we were taught certainly translate to stage, television, and even a novel).” Andrew Germishuys, SAMDB (South African Movie Database) 

“I enjoyed ‘The Write Journey’. It enriched my limited knowledge of screenwriting and I’m looking forward to applying the skills/knowledge I picked up with future endeavors. I found the course really insightful, constructive and informative. You equip students with a structure to hang their ideas on and start to build. Your supportive attitude also helps people get their ideas into sharper focus and while there’s a lot to take in, I think people feel much more prepared to tackle projects after completing The Write Journey.” Stephen ‘Spling’ Aspeling, Movie Critic Online… 2Oceansvibe | All4Women | SPL!NG | Techsmart Radio… CapeTalk 567 | Fine Music Radio | Chai FM | Radio 702/ Print… Techsmart Mag | Weekend Post

“Each and every module so far has left me excited and inspired. Working through the material in my own time has given me the opportunity to spend more time exploring/questioning my story.” Catherine Quirk, I.T Business Intelligence Developer (but BMus (Wits) graduate)

Daniel Dercksen’s course offers an insightful and inspiring introduction into the craft and art of storytelling. Great motivation to help one begin that rather daunting and solitary task of transferring ones story from the imagination to the page. Writer/director Neil Coppen, creator of Tin Bucket Drum, Tree Boy, and Abnormal Loads and winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Theatre, 2011, as well as the Naledi Award for Best South African Play (Abnormal Loads), 2013

If I had attended it some five or ten years ago, so many things would have changed in my career, as well as life in general. Elelwani Ramaite-Mafadza, a lecturer at the University of Venda, as well as a researcher in the Indigenous Music and Oral History Project and involved in the CUPP project which is a project involved in rural development

“…everyone has a story. The door that The Writing Studio opened for me was my first introduction to my love and appreciation for film. Today I am a Director and a Scriptwriter. My call to adventure has just begun but in order to know where I’m going, I have never forgotten my roots… I have to say thank you to Daniel Dercksen for introducing me to the world of scriptwriting. For it has opened so many doors for me, my family and friends, since my first writing lesson.” Ross Van Leeve, shortlisted in Kevin Spacey Jameson’s First Short Film Competition.

”I’m a writer learning the process of film making and production, with the goal of building an international film production company. I took this course  to better learn the script writing process. At first I was a little hesitant cause in all my prior research, the people who wrote the material came off rather passive aggressive, condescending, and otherwise were discouraging. Daniel’s course is quite encouraging, straightforward, and easy to understand. While it was challenging in certain areas, he encourages his students to ask questions, and think critically and creatively. To anyone who’s looking to better hone their skills in writing, I would recommend his courses.” Sam Mann ,  Tucson, Arizona

” The thought of “screenwriting” always seems so complex and complicated, the workshop unpacked it and classified everything into separate manageable boxes. Daniel Dercksen knows what he is talking about, so he is able to zoom in certain things, break complex issues into smaller understandable chunks. The workshop was inspiring and it confirmed to me that I’m on the “write” track — I’m on the path of what I want to do.” Refilwe Thobega, Assistant Editor: South Africa Yearbook (Government Communications)

“The course has given me a clearer understanding of how stories are told for the big screen or television. Structured lessons also gave me a better idea on how to make a financially viable blockbuster. Daniel Dercksen has a practical approach when teaching the art of writing for film and this makes it easy to learn and follow through when I write my own stories. For me it was 3yrs of film school jam packed into 2 days of insightful lessons. ” Warren Gray- Production designer and Art Director (Assistant Art Director on History of the world – BBC & Film Afrika)