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Study Dramatic Writing By Distance Learning

  • Learn to write for books, short stories, plays, poetry
  • Even non fiction writers can apply what they learn from this course
  • Develop an ability to impact the readers emotions through your writing.
You may have a project in mind (eg. a book, short story), or perhaps you have a desire to explore what might be possible for you to work as a writer in the future. Some people undertake this course to expand their general writing skills. 
Dramatic writing is the type of communication that stirs the emotions; captivates a person and motivates them to do things. It is obviously a significant skill for anyone writing screenplays, novels or short stories; but it can have other applications as well. Example: When you know how to stir the emotions in your writing; you have a valuable skill for captivating people in anything from education to marketing.

Who is this course suitable for?

This course is suitable for complete beginners or writers wanting to improve their dramatic writing skills. Our tutors will pitch their feedback at your level of writing. All of our tutors are enthusiastic and keen, helping and encouraging you all of the way.

Duration : 100 hours

Course Structure

1. Introduction

  • Motivation
  • Typing time
  • Types of Writing
  • Making decisions about what to write; deciding the genre, know your stuff,  concept, synopsis, etc
  • Keeping a notebook
  • Process of Story Development
  • Planning what you Write
  • Developing your Voice
  • Terminology

2. Characters

  • Developing the characters
  • Building Characters
  • The Main Characters
  • Minor Characters

3. Theme & Genre

  • Developing a Theme
  • Universal Themes
  • Sub Themes
  • Creating Conflict
  • Names

4. Plot Development

  • Developing the big picture
  • Decisions to Make
  • Ambiance
  • The end of a story Memoir
  • Biographies
  • Reflective Stories
  • Historical
  • Sense of Place
  • Opinionated Stories

5. Weaving a Story

  • Action, Emotion and Mirror Technique
  • Parallel Lives Technique
  • Palm Cards Technique
  • Let your Character Drive the Story
  • Developing a Story Line
  • Problems to Avoid
  • A Dialectical Approach
  • Other Approaches
  • How Character Affects Plot
  • Motive
  • Consequences
  • Flashbacks and Flash forwards

6. Writing a Dramatic Short Story

  • Who is the Antagonist
  • Who are the Main Characters
  • Developing a Sense of Place

7. Developing Sub Plots

  • Reasons for sub Plots
  • Ways to Develop sub Plots
  • Plants

8. Writing a Chapter for a Dramatic Novel

  • Opportunity to publish in the Student magazine
  • Creative Writing Resources
  • Writing as a Business
  • Getting Published
  • Self Publishing Vanity Publishing
  •  Characters –Developing the characters


  • Define and develop an understanding of dramatic writing.
  • Develop methods of developing characters in dramatic writing.
  • Define different genres and develop themes for dramatic writing.
  • Develop techniques for developing your plot.
  • Describe techniques for weaving a story.
  • Develop a short story using dramatic writing.
  • Develop a chapter of dramatic writing.
  • Determine how to develop sub plots.


Scope of Dramatic Writing
There are many different types of writing – short stories, poems, novels, screen plays etc. Dramatic writing can fall into all of these. A short story usually takes place over a shorter period of time. It is often set in just one setting/scene, and the characters may be shown with broader strokes – there is not as much time to analyse characters as there is with novel writing.

A novel, however, allows more space to describe characters and scenes. There may be more than one scene and more than one plot. The plots may be multi layered.

Writing comes in many forms, all of which can be creatively employed and manipulated by the creative writer, regardless of the genre (novel, poetry, travel guide etc) in which she or he is writing. One form of writing is rarely used on its own.
Developing a Plot
The overriding most important thing you must do when developing a plot is to do it systematically and logically. There are no rules set in concrete; but the following thoughts are a good starting point for developing a logical approach that will become your own:
In any story, a broad plot needs to be developed before the fine detail can be attended to.
Plot development is different to story weaving.
  • Plot development is what you do to develop the “big picture.”
  • Story weaving is what you do to insert detail around the big picture.
  • You need to develop the plot first and then you have a framework to build details upon.
The plot needs to contain conflict if it is to be a dramatic story.
The plot must also attend to cause and effect. By linking events in a story, creating effects that relate to causes or causes that relate to effects; you will make a story more believable and, in fact, more readable. However, this does not eliminate the possibility of surprises. A skilled writer needs to be astute to the point of adding in events that reflect cause and effect, and yet which at the same time are unexpected.
Before You Start Developing the Story
Before you begin to weave a story you might create a summary or synopsis that reflects both the profiles of the characters and other critical things, such as the following:
  • The order in which the story is presented (e.g. chronological may be the most common and obvious but some stories jump between present, past and future).
  • Major events within the plot (e.g. a murder, reconciliation, or conflict, etc).
  • Deciding whether to take an emotional approach or intellectual approach.
An emotional story is focused on creating emotional responses from the reader. The writing seeks to work on the emotions, creating dramatic feelings such as heightened romance, conflict and intrigue, by stimulating their sensitivities. The reader is made to feel as though they are within the story.
An intellectual story examines events from the outside, looking in. It can be more clinical. It can be more difficult to create a dramatic effect this way; when you are not taking blatant advantage of emotional sensitivities; but stories that are done this way can be very good if done properly.
The ambience of the story is the mood of the story. This can be strongly influenced by the story’s location.
Your story is located in time, space, within a culture, and within a certain social group (for example, a certain class, gang, school, or family). Ten different authors could write about the same town but they would all write about it differently. They would all write about it with different characters, different settings, and in different time periods.
When you are deciding on the ambience for your story, try to select a location that you know. This is not essential, but it is easy to describe somewhere that you know well. If you do not want to write about your hometown or where you work, but want to write about medieval England, you will need to carry out research.
Khamila Shamsie recently wrote a book called ‘Burnt Shadows.’ She used Google Earth, and YouTube to get images of places that she had never visited.
As you can see from Shamsie’s example, you do not necessarily need to have visited a place to be able to describe it. However, if you are not personally knowledgeable about a location, then you need to carry out research to find out more about the location. You can use maps, library books and look through online photo libraries to make yourself more familiar with your location.
It may not just be a location you are describing; it may be a time period, or a different culture. To be able to write realistically, you need to know your subject. Do not think that you can trick your reader. They will know when you are not giving realistic details. They will find you out in some way. It is hard to write a full story about somewhere or something that we do not know without being caught out if we have not researched it well. Bear that in mind, as we do not want to disappoint the reader. If we disappoint a reader once, they may never read us again. If that first reader happens to be a literary agent, or a publisher, that tiny mistake could mean that our novel is never published.





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Study Dramatic Writing By Distance Learning

Do you have great story ideas but don't know where to start?

  • Learn to tell your own story with this fantastic course.
  • Learn about writing engaging and powerful plots.
  • Learn what readers want.
  • Develop skills in expressing yourself.
  • Learn more about how to get your work published.

Meet some of our academics

Rosemary Davies (General)Rosemary has over 30 years of working in jobs ranging from Writer, Consultant, Broadcaster and, Business owner, to Teacher and landscape designer. She has worked for ACS since 2008
Rachel SyersRachel has worked as a newspaper journalist for the past 15 years in a range of roles from sub-editor and social columnist to news reporter, covering rounds such as education, health, council, music, television, court, police, Aboriginal and Islander affairs, and agriculture. Her current role is Fashion Editor, features writer and features sub-editor with The Gold Coast Bulletin. She has co-authored a successful biography "Roma: From Prison to Paradise" about former prisoner-of-war turned yoga guru, Roma Blair, as well as freelanced as a writer, reviewer and researcher for Australian music and celebrity magazines such as WHO Weekly, Rave, Australasian Post and New Idea. Rachel has a B.Journalism.
Adriana Fraser (general)Writer, teacher, consultant, horticulturist and sustainable living expert for over 30 years. ACS tutor since the mid 90's, Adriana has written regularly for a range of publications (including Australia's national Grass Roots Magazine) since the early 1980's and continues to be actively involved as a contributor to Home Grown magazine and other publications. Adriana has a Cert.Child Care., Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert in Assessment and Training., Cert.Hort., Adv.Dip.Hort.
Gavin Cole B.Sc.,M.Psych.Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. He has co-authored several psychology text books and many courses including diploma and degree level courses in psychology and counselling. Gavin joined ACS in 2001.