Cracking Story: Discovering the Emotional Journey at the Heart of Screenwriting

The Story Maven, Allen Palmer of global screenwriting hothouse, Cracking Yarns, teaching the 2-day screenwriting course, Cracking Story in Sydney, Australia.

An inspiring 2-day course with one of Australia’s leading screenwriting authorities, Allen Palmer, that can transform your understanding of film and TV storytelling by getting you to focus on what really matters: the emotional journey of your characters – and the audience.

“I’ve been to the overseas screenwriting gurus and Allen’s course was both more insightful and inspiring” Mark H.

“The perfect introduction to screenwriting” Linda B.

“You were fabulous”
Debra Oswald, Creator and Head Writer, Network 10’s hit TV series, Offspring

Dates and Prices:
Sydney – Dates & Prices

How is Cracking Story different from other Screenwriting Courses?

"Allen Palmer turned my feeble yelp into a BARBARIC YAWP. You'll be standing on your desks - guaranteed" - Brendon McDonall, winner of prestigious Iris international film prize 2014

“Allen turned my feeble yelp into a BARBARIC YAWP. You’ll be standing on your desks – guaranteed” Brendon McDonall, winner, Iris international film prize 2014

Ask audiences what they want and what do most of them say? They want to be moved. Yet, while many Hollywood films today are full of special effects, they rarely affect our hearts. Why? Because the writers are preoccupied with plot. And plot is not story.

Are Indie films any better? Not much. Because many Indie writers have demonised structure and become obsessed with character. But character is not story either.

At our flagship 2-day course, Cracking Story: Discovering the Emotional Key to the Heart of Screenwriting, the focus is entirely different.

Yes, structure is important and you’ll absolutely gain a much better understanding of how to shape your screen story. Yes, character is vital and we’ll show you how to create complex, original, captivating characters. But, we recognise that the main game is neither plot nor character. They are merely storytelling devices to trigger something that is much more important: the emotional journey of your characters – and the audience.

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“I am a huge fan of Allen Palmer. I did his Cracking Story course then leaned on him heavily as a Story Coach during the making of Sherpa. When I was drowning in options, he had an amazing ability to pick out the emotional arc through the haze. What he’s taught me about storytelling has given me tremendous creative freedom in my film-making. I highly recommend him and his courses.” Jennifer Peedom, award-winning writer/director of Sherpa

Spend two days at Cracking Story exploring the greatest film and TV ever made from this fresh perspective and you’ll not only revolutionise your approach to screen storytelling – you’ll unearth the secret to finding your own unique authentic screenwriting voice.

“Allen is a genius on story” – Phil Wade, Tropfest-winning producer

“I would never have reached the Semi-finals of the Academy Nicholl Screenwriting competition without your course, Allen. You really made a difference to this writer. Thank you” – Andy Byrne

“Wish I’d done this course 15 years ago!” – Sam T.

Dates and Prices:

Dates and Prices:
Sydney – Dates & Prices

What you’ll discover

“Allen’s knowledge is encyclopaedic, but it’s his ability to fuse his emotional intelligence and passion with that intellect that inspired me well beyond the weekend. I would recommend time with Allen, in any forum, for any writer, whether you’re beginning or at the top of your game.” Rob Carlton, award-winning actor/writer/director

  • What audiences really want (and it’s not what you think)
  • Why plot-based approaches to story don’t work
  • How to create engaging characters
  • Why it’s not enough to create engaging characters
  • What audiences are looking for in a concept
  • What 2 things your story needs to engage your audience
  • What is it that most writers forget when writing scenes
  • Why subtext matters more than dialogue
  • How to write truly memorably, emotionally powerful scenes
  • What elevates the great stories above the merely good
  • How not to get lost in the middle of your screenplay
  • Why most characters arcs don’t move the audience
  • How to use subplots and sequences to deepen engagement
  • What is the key emotional beat in Act 2 that most scripts leave out
  • How to engage an audience for 90 mins (or more)
  • How to send your audience away emotionally satisfied
  • Why “happy endings” aren’t necessarily emotionally satisfying
  • How to have your film say something (without being preachy)
  • How writing for TV differs from writing for feature films
  • Which questions to ask to help unlock your own story
  • How to infuse your writing with your own unique voice
  • How to profoundly move your audience

“I’ve encountered no one in this country with a better and deeper understanding of story” Justin Norrie, Former Sydney Morning Herald journalist.

“Allen is one of Australia’s greatest film-making resources” – Jeremy Dylan, music documentary film-maker

“It was totally exhilarating, a real pleasure and I learned things I didn’t even know I needed to learn. ”
Claire Dobbin, Chair of Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF)

Dates and Prices:
Sydney – Dates & Prices

What do you cover in this 2-day Screenwriting Course?

Day 1 – Saturday

Session 1. What do audiences want?

Allen is that rare thing – a wonderful teacher who cares about his students and their work” – Laura Scrivano, Award-winning Writer/Director

Most screenwriting bibles plunge straight into their plot paradigms without pausing to consider this most basic question. We first step back to explore what audiences are looking for from story, so you’re better able to meet the audience’s (generally unconscious) expectations.

We move on to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the well-known story paradigms, then examine the work of Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler before introducing our own story philosophy that goes beyond plot: the Hero’s Emotional Journey.

Session 2. The Hero’s Emotional Journey Pt 1 – The beginning
Rather than thinking in terms of Inciting Incidents and Act 1 Turning Points, we explore the emotional beats that typify the beginning of a story and identify two key ways in which you can engage the audience and lay the foundation for a profoundly moving story.

Session 3. The Hero’s Emotional Journey Pt 2 – The middle
Most screenwriters get lost in the middle of their scripts because they’re too focused on plot or obsessed solely with character. We clue you into the emotional notes of Act 2 that tend to resonate for audiences, and make you aware of a key beat that is present in the great films but missing from most of today’s movies.

Session 4. The Hero’s Emotional Journey Pt 3– The end
The mark of a master screenwriter is the ability to resolve their story in a way that satisfies the audience. We’ll show you how continuing to focus on the Hero’s Emotional Journey can deliver a profoundly moving ending.

Dates and Prices:
Sydney – Dates & Prices

Day 2 – Sunday

“A story only comes to life when you, as a writer, find your voice. This is at the heart of everything Allen teaches and you walk away from his class a better storyteller” – Raj Muneshwar

5. How to write emotionally engaging Characters
To get the audience to come on the journey with you, you must first get them to engage with your characters. We explore how you can get them to make that emotional connection and encourage you to look beyond “likeability” and Empathy.

6. How to write emotionally powerful Scenes
Most scenes fail to engage the audience because the writer is preoccupied with merely having the scene serve the plot or because they want to impress us with their brilliant dialogue. Scenes – like stories – need to take us on an emotional journey. We’ll show you how to write scenes that move the audience – and leave them begging for more.

7. How to deepen engagement: Sequences & Subplots
Moving beyond the scene we look at how you use these larger dramatic units to deepen the audience’s engagement with your character and lay the foundation for an emotionally powerful ending. We look at the biggest mistake most writers make with subplots, identify the one subplot you absolutely need, and reveal why sequences can help you navigate the vast dramatic expanses of Act 2.

8. Cracking Your Story (and Finding your Voice): Concept, Theme & Your Emotional Keystone

"Within 12 months of working with Allen my TV series was in paid development with Australia's best comedy production team" - Pat May.

“Within 12 months of working with Allen my TV series was in paid development with Australia’s best comedy production team” – Pat May

Looking at great film and TV is fun and instructive – to a point. But how did they get there? And, more importantly, how do you get there? Where do you start? And, what do you do when you (inevitably) get lost?

We’ll look at how some of the great film and TV stories evolved and see that the breakthroughs came after the discovery of what we call the Emotional Keystone. We’ll give you some questions to ask that will help you unlock your story and encourage you to tap into the characteristic that makes you utterly unique as a writer: your own emotional experiences. By doing so, you’ll begin to develop your own authentic voice and start to write truly original screenplays.

Dates and Prices:
Sydney – Dates & Prices

Is this the right course for me?

The course is designed to appeal to both the absolute beginner and the seasoned professional. You don’t need to have written a script or read any screenwriting texts before you attend Cracking Story. But, because our emphasis is quite different from most screenwriting courses, it is typically a revelation even for award-winning screenwriters.

About Allen Palmer

Cracking Yarns Seminar-21_Cropped_250

Australian-born and bred, Allen studied film in LA before working in London as a story analyst for Granada Film, the Script Factory and the UK Film Council.

For 5 years, he ran the Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting program at AFTRS, Australia’s national film school, and currently leads the Screenplay Development course at NYU (Sydney).

As a writer, he’s had film and TV projects in development with the BBC, Working Title, Film4 and Dreamworks Animation, and his feature, Falling for Figaro, will shoot in the UK in late 2015.

He runs Screenwriting Courses, provides Story Coaching services, and shares his general passion for story through his screenwriting hothouse,

Dates and Prices:
Sydney – Dates & Prices

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*DISCLAIMER* Cracking Yarns reserves the right to cancel any course for any reason at any time. In the event of a course being cancelled a full refund of course fees will be provided.

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