The Write Journey: 12 Steps To Writing The Perfect Screenplay

Take Ownership of your 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.

Daniel chats to Jans

Writing Coach and Educator Daniel Dercksen with veteran filmmaker Jans Rautenbach during a masterclass for The Writing Studio.

Following in the tradition of 19 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.

Although the course is aimed at screenwriters:

  • 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.

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

The Write Journey not only offers a journey into the world of story, but also an introspective exploration into what it takes to be a screenwriter, writing for film or television.

It’s how you live your life that matters, and in the living of your life it’s how you approach your work and your place as an observer of the world around you, and the responsibilities of that,  that will determine your level of happiness and fulfillment – and that all has to come before professional results.

The course deals with how to write your story, but there’s also how to be the person doing the writing.

When you start writing a new story it is so easy to be overwhelmed by the intricate detail of what happens in the story – the parts that make up the story – that you forget about the whole story.

Rushing to write the first draft, you patch the details together and soon find that you have a story full of holes, or one that feels empty and does not live up what inspired the idea.

De-motivated and lost you soon lose interest in the idea and leave a potentially great story unfinished.

It’s like watching a film you can’t wait to see on DVD with remote at hand and skip through the boring bits to get to the end, then finding that you need to track back to make sense of resolutions that baffle you.

It is about you and your story, the whole story, and nothing but that.

Detail comes later during the writing of the story.

Crafting the story to lay the foundation of a solid blue print begins long before you start writing the story.

Sometimes we get lost in the daunting process of turning abstract or vague ideas into a tangible story that is logical, cohesive and worth investing the time it takes to develop the story to its full dramatic, comedic or dynamic potential.

Always remember that in the end, we all serve the story.

The writer, the characters, the structure, the director, the cinematographer all serve the story; the process of creating a story is bigger than you are so bow down to its magnitude and own the process without struggle or complexity.

If you own your story before writing it you will be able to complete a Top Sheet, a standard document that will be forwarded to potential producers, publishers and investors that will sum up what your story is about, why they should invest in your project, and how relevant it is, and if you have a winning Top Sheet you might even be commissioned to write the story!

The course turns theory into practice and ideas inside out.

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.

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

How Does The Course Work?

  • Once we receive your registration form and deposit details you are ready to take the journey. You will have the choice of commencing at your own pace or work according to set deadlines.
  • The course is done online, via email, offering a one-on-one interaction between yourself and your coach.
  • 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.



‘’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

‘’’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

‘’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 

“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)