John Yorke Story: Story for Script Development

Learn the script-development and story-shaping skills you need to thrive in the HETV drama arena

A new generation of high end TV (HETV) shows are transforming how drama is conceived and made — drama is more ambitious than ever, requiring bigger stories and larger, more complex teams.

This seven-week course, run with our partners at John Yorke Story, gives you the story structure and note-giving skills you need to thrive in this growth area of TV production. You’ll become familiar with the key components every story needs and how to put them together to create a successful story. You’ll work out what makes stories resonate with TV audiences worldwide. You’ll master five-act structure, and use it to diagnose and fix script problems within the context of an HETV production.

Along the way you’ll develop increased judgement and self-confidence in selecting and presenting story ideas, distilling a story to its essence, working with writers, and giving and receiving notes.

UK Screenskills Bursary Funding Opportunities

This course has been made possible by the support of Screenskills, and has been approved as part of an informal or formal continuing professional development (CPD) programme.

As this is a professional development course, you may be able to get funding from your employer. All participants who successfully complete the course receive a certificate of completion evidencing their learning and study hours.


Start date: 20 June 2022
Duration: 7 weeks
Skill level: Intermediate
Session length: Weekly
Sessions: 6
Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)

Course Director

Story for Script Development is for anyone working in TV drama, including editors, development assistants, trainee script editors, researchers, storyliners, story assistants, story supervisors and anyone who wants to learn the mechanics of story structure and apply that understanding to real projects. It's also for people looking to move into script roles, whether from another area of production or coming new to the industry.

We teach this course in groups of up to 15. You can book as an individual, or block-book a dedicated class exclusively for your team. The course is suitable if you:

  • Are a trainee script editor, researcher or story assistant and want to learn how to plan and structure drama scripts
  • Are responsible for making high end TV drama, including editors and series producers
  • Want to move into HETV and learn more about the story expectations of the market and audience
  • Would like to sharpen your story structure skills and learn how to work with large-scale stories
  • Want to understand storylining over a series
  • Need to discover why scripts aren’t working — and how to fix them
  • Want to get better at collating and presenting notes, including giving notes you’d rather not give
  • Need to gain experience and confidence in working with writers
  • Are looking for a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) course
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course

You’ll discover the underlying structure of all successful stories, learn the essential elements every HETV drama needs, and practise applying this understanding to your work in script development.

Throughout the course you’ll study real-world scripts that work — and some that don’t — to help you understand how thinking in story terms can help you identify and tackle problems, and make your note-giving more effective at all stages of the development process.

Along the way, you’ll be working within a supportive community keen to share their experiences.

Session 1: Introduction to storytelling
We start by thinking about the grammar of storytelling and the essential elements every story needs. We’ll look at the HETV script production process and the role of the script editor and other team members. This session is also about introducing yourself and your current role in the script process.
Session 2: Basic building blocks
In the second session we build on the basic building blocks used in dramatic storytelling. By the end of the session you’ll understand what makes a good HETV story – and what doesn’t. We’ll also look at the HETV market and audiences, and the specific opportunities and constraints the form presents. We will ask you to make notes on an HETV script, which you will revise towards the end of the course.



At the end of Session 2 there is a Tutor Q&A.

Session 3: Fixing stories that don’t work
This session is about being able to see if a story works – or how to ‘break a story’. You’ll learn the 10 key questions to ask every story and by the end of the session should be able to deconstruct a HETV story and understand what needs to be done to fix any problems. You’ll apply those principles by giving headline notes on a real HETV script.
Session 4: Mastering act structure
In this session we break down a story into first three and then five acts and look at why the midpoint and turning points are such important elements in a script. We’ll introduce key ways to read an HETV script and look at storylining across different-length series. Practical exercises include breaking a script into five parts and giving notes to an important writer who’d rather not hear them.



At the end of Session 4 there is a Q&A with John Yorke.

Session 5: Giving and receiving notes
In this session we look at ways of acting on notes – to make scripts better not just different. We’ll assess a script at scene level and think about the merits of seeing a story from the character’s perspective. We’ll look too at the script-editing process from the viewpoint of the writer and the wider team. You will return to the script we asked you to make notes on in Session 2, and revise your notes in line with what you have learned.
Session 6: Putting it all together
In this recapping session, John offers his top tips for checking whether a story is as good as it can be. We hope these tips will inspire you to look at stories and scripts with a fresh eye. At the end of the session you will submit notes on a live script to see how far you’ve come, and receive written feedback notes from your tutors.



At the end of this session, there will be a Q&A with an HETV writer.



We teach this course in our online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can fit learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the weekly sessions.

You’ll learn from:

  • Short podcasts from John Yorke
  • Short videos from John Yorke and/or other industry experts
  • Written guidance notes and carefully selected reading and viewing lists
  • Practical exercises and prompts to help you experiment and practise your script skills
  • Guided discussions with your group
  • Weekly tutor input and feedback on your final assignment in each session
  • Live chat with your tutor and a script executive, and a Q&A forum with John Yorke
  • The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers
  • Detailed feedback on your final script notes at the end of the course from your tutor and John Yorke

You’ll need:

  • 5-7 hours per week to work through the course
  • A notebook and pen or pencil, if you like to make notes by hand
  • Access to the following films on DVD or via streaming sites:
    • Jaws and The Crown
  • A laptop or computer* with:
    • A reliable broadband internet connection
    • Speakers or headphones
    • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
    • Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
    • Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
    • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free

*You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.

Join our alumni

After your course, you can join our online alumni where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within our online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum and access an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other courses and groups and share your work for feedback on our alumni critiquing forum
  • Join in on discussions about reading, writing, editing and ideas on our general discussion forum. This is also where we share news and useful info
  • Retain access to our resources area, which has interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people online using the alumni area live chatroom. We also host live chats with guests here

Mentoring and one-to-one feedback

The John Yorke Story tutor team offer mentoring, script reads and reports. We are happy to quote by job or script, or to arrange a longer mentoring scheme as you work on a specific story idea. We’ll create a package to suit you, so for more information please email

Taking things further

If you'd like to continue on to another John Yorke Story or Professional Writing Academy course, we'll give you a discount. Please get in touch for more details.

Watch John Yorke’s Google talk 


What our students say...

The course has helped me move strides ahead in my writing. I wasn’t completely aware of this until my co-writer stopped me mid-structural-analysis of an episode and asked which lesson of the course had made me so good at analysing structure. That was a pretty huge compliment.


What our students say...

This is helping me understand the difference between being a reader and being a script editor.


What our students say...

All the help and feedback during the course has been fantastic, and as a result of the course, I feel much more confident about tackling difficult story lines than I ever have done before.


What our students say...

I found the clips really useful in illustrating the taught material. It was also useful having the lecture notes to take away, but it was the clips that really made me understand what I was being taught.


What our students say...

I have previously attended script courses, for example, the Robert McKee one, and there is no comparison. John Yorke’s teaching methods are far more in depth and vibrant and the industry guests full of inspiration, generous with their hot tips and insightful.


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Price: £900 (inc. VAT where applicable)
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