Effective Writing 2: Writing for Performance (Script-writing)

Course summary

Effective Writing 2: Writing for Performance (Script-writing)


A series of three day-long sessions on scriptwriting for stage screen and radio.

This short creative writing course will present students with the key skills needed to plan, write and edit original drama scripts in a range of genres for stage, screen and radio.

Each intensive day will include a mix of taught sessions, discussion, small group and individual planning and writing activities, and the sharing of work and ideas.

It will challenge students to extend their script-writing skills and ambitions, but will do so in a supportive and focused atmosphere.

It will relate key learning to contemporary creative practice in the arts and media.

Comments from past partipants:

"I found the course extremely interesting, and lively, while not in the least trivial. I personally, was sorry when it ended and wished we could continue, and I think that was a general view. I particularly liked the the way we were encouraged to take an active part during the lessons."

"One of the best tutors I ever had"

"Excellent tutor evidently overflowing with experience and enthusiasm. He has really inspired me as well as equipping me with the skills to get started. Handled the group dynamics with ease and never seemed didactic"

"Really enjoyed this course fantastic tutor - very inspiring."

Programme details

Registration 9.15am (Friday 26 Jan)

FRIDAY 26 January 2018


Session 1    How writing for performance differs from other forms of fiction
Session 2    Who? What? Why? Where? When? – creating the mission statement
Session 3    Genre and five-point story design
Session 4    Characters and their motivations as drivers of plot

FRIDAY 2 February 2018


Session 1    Creating voices: developing characters and advancing the story
Session 2       Principles of effective dialogue
Session 3       Subtext: what’s really going on in a scene?
Session 4       Why am I here, what do I want – questions a character asks

FRIDAY 9 February 2018


Session 1    Challenges and opportunities in writing monologues
Session 2    Advancing plot through action
Session 3    The purposes of dramaturgy
Session 4    Plenary and practical considerations for writing for stage or radio


Attendees are expected to complete a piece of coursework after the course, which is accredited with 10 CATS Points at FHEQ Level 4.


Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms. Accommodation is often available in Rewley House for those who wish to stay on the night before a course. Please contact our Residential Centre on+44 (0) 1865 270362 or email res-ctr@conted.ox.ac.uk for details of availability and prices.


Alumni 10% Discount: £0.00
Friends of Rewley House discount: £0.00
includes coffee/tea: £222.00
Summer school 10% discount: £0.00
Baguette lunch each week: £14.10
Full Lunch Each Week: £40.50


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Sandie Byrne

Director of Studies

is an Associate Professor in English Literature and Director of Studies in English Literature and Creative Writing at OUDCE, and a Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford. She was formerly Fellow and Tutor in English at Balliol College, Oxford, and Chair of English at Lincoln University. Her research interests are in twentieth-century poetry and the work of Jane Austen. She is the author of a number of books and articles, including: Tony Harrison: Loiner (Oxford University Press, 1997); H, v. & O: The Poetry of Tony Harrison (MUP, 1998); The Plays of George Bernard Shaw (WW Norton, 2002); The Reader’s Guide to Mansfield Park (Palgrave, 2004) The Unbearable Saki (OUP, 2007), The Poetry of Ted Hughes (Palgrave, 2014) and Jane Austen’s Possessions and Dispossessions: The Significance of Things (Palgrave, 2014).

Mr Shaun McCarthy


Shaun McCarthy has had over a dozen stage plays professionally produced, and drama series and single productions for BBC radio. He runs Hooligan Theatre Productions through which he develops his new work with co-production partners. He teaches creative writing at Oxford and Bristol universities and the University of the West of England. He is currently adapting Strindberg's Miss Julie for an Oxford based theatre company, to be set at a country house party in Oxfordshire in 1963.

Shaun says, somewhat bizarrely..., I have had an article published on the adaptation process long before the play is fully written (!), the link is:



Course aims

To introduce students to the full range of key skills used by dramatists to create stage plays, screen plays and radio dramas.

Teaching methods

  • Input from the tutor, illustrated with extracts from performed and published scripts and with film and TV clips.
  • Discussion and group story devising activities.
  • Directed individual writing tasks.
  • Peer critiquing of writing.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • Understand the purpose and effect of key drama writing skills.
  • Be able to analyse their use in the work of a range of other writers.
  • Deploy these key skills imaginatively in a range of writing activities.
  • Have acquired knowledge and skills to take forward into their on-going creative practice.

Assessment methods

Students will produce a final piece of work, an extract from an original script plus an outline of the whole proposed work. (1500 words).