These are just some of the adjectives used by the writers who attended this summer’s Emotional Structure Workshop in County Cork, Ireland. The week-long Residential Workshop was an extraordinary experience in every sense of the word.

    From the intelligent and intense exchange of ideas, to the serenely quiet countryside environment. From the comfort of the Retreat and the home-cooked meals, to the dozens of secluded writer’s nooks and crannies both in the house and tucked away outside on the five acres of lush grounds. From mid-afternoon scribbling in the sunny sway of a hammock, to quiet conversations by the evening’s intoxicating turf fire. From hiking the hallowed ground of the area’s stunning historic sights, to dancing and singing in the village pub.

    The combination of work and play in an idyllic atmosphere made for an altogether exceptional week. But most importantly, it was the quality of the writing each writer was able to achieve that ruled the day.


        The workshop welcomed writers of all levels and was composed of discussions addressing key issues of story, plot, conflict, and dialog; plenty of writing time in comfortable spaces; plenty of wandering time in beautiful places; and private, one-on-one consultations with a special emphasis on helping each writer develop his or her own screenplay’s Emotional Structure, and the way to express it with renewed confidence and clarity.

        Here are some of the places we enjoyed along the way. A little bit of heaven on earth.

The Village of Eyeries

Coffee, tea, and Emotional Structure

On a hill above Anam Cara Writer’s and Artist’s Retreat.

Nothing beats taking a long walk with your friend to hash out some story problems.


As film writers, we tend to get ahead of ourselves. We worry about how our film will look before we know what it will say.

             We can be guilty of being so in love with the process of filmmaking that we forget why the film is being made in the first place.  As beautiful as a film can be, it is not being made to dazzle with technique or special effects.  It is being made to tell a story.  Therefore, as filmmakers the first thing we must master is our understanding of film story.

            Whether we are just starting a screenplay, or struggling in the middle of one, there are certain absolutes we should be aware of and accept.  These absolutes are not meant to restrict our creativity. They are actually specifically designed to unleash our creativity.  Because great storytelling is not random or reckless.  It is focused, and illuminating, and expansive.  

            Two movements are progressing in your screenplay at all times.  The Plot and The Story.  The Plot and The Story each have their own beginning, middle, and end.  And they are interwoven and co-dependent, but not parallel.  Learn which is which, and don’t mix them up.

                     The PLOT is what is happening.

                     The STORY is who it’s changing as it’s happening.

                     The STORY is the journey for truth.

                     The PLOT is the road it takes to get there.

                     NEVER sacrifice STORY’S truth for the sake of PLOT’S action.