Module 1, Step 4
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Copy The Masters

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  • Module: Warmup – Osmosis Screenwriting
  • Objective: To develop the muscle memory of writing in screenplay format.
  • Task: To copy a full-length screenplay, four pages each day.

This course doesn’t have a tutor, and it doesn’t teach you the rules of screenwriting. So, here’s a question for you…

How can you write a successful screenplay without learning the tricks – and the theory – of the trade?

Well, let me ask you this: how did successful writers learn before there were screenwriting gurus and online courses?

And how did many of the greatest painters learn their skills?

They studied the works of their predecessors… and they copied.

In our Warm Up module, you are going to copy one full-length screenplay in the genre of your choice.

We’ll come back later to the exact reasons why we do this. But in essence, while you are processing the transfer of the words and images from one page to the other, magic happens in your brain.

You are not just reading the script. You are internalising the story, the style, the format, and a ton more aspects of the craft.

This stage we call Osmosis Screenwriting.

The power of a text is different when it is read from when it is copied out. Only the copied text thus commands the soul of him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers the new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it: because the reader follows the movement of his mind in the free flight of day-dreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command.
-Walter Benjamin

But why would you perform such a laborious, time-consuming task?

Well, the last time I took the advice to hand-copy great writing, it earned me $30,000 in 30 days.

You read that correctly.

I copied some of the most successful print ads ever created, and the work paid off in a phenomenal way when I sold my flagship screenwriting course The Story Series, back in 2015.

When I started investigating whether the same strategy could apply to screenwriting, I found that many successful writers and thinkers swear by this approach, and rumour goes that even Steven Spielberg advocates it.

You’ll see how after a few days, you’ll start to love this warming-up exercise. It may well become your favourite part of the course!

After your daily copying session, it is time to read great scripts.

In the next step, I’ll reveal the thinking behind this.