Youth Summer Camp: 8th-12th Graders
Screenwriting with Nick McDowell

Online for summer 2021

StoryStudio is proud to offer multiple week-long writing workshops for young scribes across the nation. That’s right, now that we’re online, you can join us from anywhere. With our talented instructors, young writers can expect to learn elements of writing, build friendships and community with fellow peers, and get feedback on their creative works. Check out our different sessions here, ranging from 5th grade to 12th grade, and a special session for our genre writers.

StoryStudio is pleased to offer full scholarships to students who are unable to meet the tuition requirements.
If your child would like to apply for a scholarship, please ask them to fill out this form.

June 27 – July 1: 10am – 12pm Central
Instructor Nick McDowell will lead this genre-specific camp for writers who are looking to write their stories for the screen.

Are you ready to go from a screen watcher to a screenwriter? Since every movie and TV show begins with a script, this class will explore how to craft a strong cinematic story.

Over this one-week intensive, students will read produced script excerpts and watch filmed scenes to see how writing dictates what we see on screen. Our goal is to emerge with an enhanced Writer’s Toolbox to pull from as students write their own Hollywood blockbusters. Writers will leave the class with scenes to launch their new screenplay or TV pilot.

This class welcomes writers from all backgrounds and experience levels (especially students brand new to screenwriting)!

Day 1: Welcome / Structure
In the Writers’ Room will get to know each other and discuss our favorite films and TV shows. From there, we will explore cinematic story structure, effective plot outlining, loglines, and industry-standard formatting.

Day 2: Character
Students will learn various character-building techniques and how characters make the plot, not vice versa. We will explore ways to make our characters three-dimensional rather than stereotypes.

Day 3: Dialogue
We’ll explore the importance of dramatic dialogue that sounds natural but moves us– as well as the importance of silence (and subtext)!

Day 4: Genre / Tone
Every genre has a plethora of tropes and style staples. This week, we’ll cover a multitude of genres and how fresh spins on classic genre expectations heighten your story.

Day 5: Collaboration / Showcase
While writing may be viewed as a solitary profession, screenwriting is all about collaboration. Live readings of scenes written over the intensive, cast by the writer and read by the Writers’ Room, will surely bring everyone to a Standing Ovation.

Nick McDowell is a writer/actor/improviser based in Chicago, IL. In 2021, his scripts placed in the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards (Top 25 in Science Fiction), Chicago Screenplay Awards, Filmmatic TV Pilot Contest, and ScreenCraft TV Pilot Screenplay Competition. Nick earned his BA in Comedy Writing and Performance & Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago in 2015. When he’s not writing, Nick enjoys teaching himself guitar, learning Spanish on Duolingo, and working on The Second City‘s night staff.


Daily Timeline & Breakdowns

  • 10 a.m: Class check-in. Overview of the day’s topic with script excerpts and film scene viewings
    • 5 min. break
  • 10:50 a.m: A focused topic exploration that fuels independent writing exercises
  • 11:20 a.m: Share and discuss exercise writing
    • 5 minute break
  • 11:35 a.m: Additional writing exercise building off first exercise
  • 11:50 a.m: Share excerpts from the second writing exercise. Ask-Me-Anything segment on screenwriting. Discuss 1-3 small tasks to complete for the following class.