For the third year in a row, the Writers’ Program will have a major presence at STORY EXPO: the world’s largest convention for writers. Whether you’re a budding novelist, a seasoned screenwriter, or an overall writing enthusiast who’d like to learn more about the art and craft, Story Expo is the place to be. Over 100 creative professionals will be presenting mini-lectures or panels scheduled throughout the three days of the event, on topics ranging from breaking a story to pitching it. For screenwriters who have completed projects in their portfolio, there’s even a Pitching Room where over 70 production companies will be accepting and offering feedback on up to 5-minute speed pitches. (Note: You must sign up for the Pitching Room in advance on the Story Expo website.)

Among the 100+ lectures and panels offered, the Writers’ Program will be hosting three:

Tackling the Beast: Writing Your First Novel” with Mark Sarvas (chair) and Francesca Lia Block, Tony DuShane, and Melanie Thorne.

Friday, Sept 11 from 2pm – 3:20pm
Do fragments of scenes and plots flash in your mind? Are story lines and possible characters haunting your imagination, waiting to be born? Or have you already started to write your first novel, but got overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the process? Published novelists share their experiences and proven tips for transforming ideas and fragments of stories into artistic, compelling pieces of writing, with an emphasis on structure, character, and of course, story. To turn frustration into inspiration, start here.

Writing the TV Pilot: Your ‘Must Have’ Calling Card” with Charlie Craig (chair) and TV writer/producers Richard Hatem, Margaret Oberman, and Joel Thompson.

Friday, Sept 11 from 6pm – 7:30pm
Whether you’re a new or seasoned TV writer, you need at least one original pilot in your portfolio that shows your voice, your passion and brand of humor, and your sensibility. A panel of widely-produced one-hour drama and sitcom writers lays out how you can tap into your own “TV taste” to develop a Big Idea that’s a solid franchise capable of generating 80 to 100 episodes; create fresh, original characters; and pitch your show to networks and studios with style.

And lastly, “Deepening Your Characters: A Screenwriter’s Guide,” Billy Mernit (chair) along with screenwriters Cindy Davis, Philip Eisner, and Steve Mazur.

Saturday, Sept 12 from 2pm – 3:30pm
The best Hollywood movies deliver big, juicy main characters who take their audience on an emotionally involving journey. Join UCLA Extension Writers’ Program screenwriters as they explore how to create multi-dimensional, stylish, credible, and empathetic characters (aka “actor bait”!) whose wants and needs deepen over the course of the screenplay, within each individual scene, and that add up to the kind of compelling read that can get a project sold.

All of these talented film and television writers/teachers are also contributing authors of Cut to the Chase: Writing Feature Films with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and Inside the Room: Writing Television with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers’Program, edited by Writers’ Program Director Linda Venis.

The conference will be held Friday, September 11th to Sunday, September 13th, at the Westin LAX Hotel. Read what attendees of last year’s event had to say, here.

We hope to see you next month at Story Expo 2015. Be sure to stop by our booth to spin the wheel and win some cool swag!

For more information on Story Expo or to register, visit:

Jeff Bonnett is the Program Assistant for Screenwriting (Onsite & Online). Contact him at or (310) 206-1542.

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