Compelling and effective scenes lie at the heart of successful television drama. This course looks at what makes scenes work – and how you can write them.

Allaboutwriting’s Essential Scriptwriting: The Scene is an intensive one-day exploration of scenes as the basic building blocks of television – or indeed, any – drama.

We’ve built the course around a series of exercises that challenge participants to write three increasingly complex scenes.

We outline the specific demands and constraints of writing for television, before showing the writer’s role in the collaborative process. The writer’s job on a typical daily drama is to interpret in dramatic form the story that the team’s story-liners have dreamt up.

We show how to structure a scene, how to animate it, and how to bring the characters to life through what they do and say.

By the end of the course, you’ll have learned to avoid the pitfalls, and to write compelling and memorable scenes.

Why should you do the course?

  • To master a skill absolutely fundamental to dramatic writing of all sorts
  • To hone your scriptwriting skills
  • You need to write compelling and convincing scenes for your script to succeed.

Who will benefit?

  • Anyone who wants to understand the nuts and bolts of TV drama
  • Junior writers working on soaps or television dramas
  • Anyone who wants to break into the world of television drama
  • Aspirant screenplay writers
  • Even writers of fiction and creative non-fiction will find an understanding of scenes an immense benefit to their writing

Date: TBC
Time: 9h00 to 16h00
Venue: Johannesburg.


Cost: R1250 which includes lunch and teas

To book your place please email


Allaboutwriting’s one-day course, Essential Scriptwriting: The Scene, introduces participants to the central importance of scenes in drama. Our focus is on the demands and challenges of television drama, but the skills we’ll help develop are of practical use to all story writers.

We explore the need to

  • Know your characters
  • Know the world of your characters
  • Know your audience
  • Know your story

And then, without further ado or explanation supply you with a typical television scene “breakdown” and challenge you to write the first of three scenes.

We view a number of dramatic scenes drawn from some of the best television dramas of the last few decades, then analyse what the components of a great scene are.

  • The characters
  • The story
  • The structure
  • The business
  • The dialogue

And then present you with a second challenge – a more complex scene which you will write bearing all the points we have made in mind.

We focus in our final session on dialogue writing, and start by viewing a few scenes distinguished by the excellence of their dialogue. We explore the attributes of fine and compelling dialogue:

  • How to write in character
  • How to write efficient and effective dialogue
  • How to suggest sub-text
  • How to write convincing dialogue that borrows from, but is not a slavish imitation of, real dialogue.

And we end with a final challenge: to write a scene in which dialogue is all-important.

Throughout the day, we’ll give kind but honest feedback on the scenes participants have written.

For more information or to book your place please email

What the participants had to say

I finally met Richard whom I have heard a lot of good things about – the guy is a legend in the South African TV and Film Industry. I realised what I was doing wrong as a storyliner and what I should be aware of as a scriptwriter when approaching writing scenes. Nonhlanhla Simelane, writer and storyliner, Scandal

The fact that we had to actually “write” after a discussion session was a great idea. Writers write, and that did encourage us to put into practice immediately what we had discussed, learnt and even viewed from those shots. I can say that was theory & practice all in one, coupled with seeing what others had done before, for me that’s a GREAT coaching technique. I was actually doing a similar exercise today for one of my projects and all that I learnt and practised on Saturday came in very handy, I was smiling all the way and grateful for having attended.

A big thank you to Richard for opening up your wealth of knowledge and understanding to us. As a young filmmaker, I consider that a great legacy that you are passing on to some of us. It’s an honour and a privilege. Amukela Moyo, student AFDA

The fact that there was so much visual reference (the clips and the examples) as well as the three exercises with feedback immediately after, taught me more than just another stack of theory I can work through on my own. I learned more about dialogue than I’ve learned so far, including in my acting training, so it has been a massive help on more than one level. Johan Verwey, actor and aspiring scriptwriter

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