Dilemma: Learn To Craft The Dramatic Core of Your Story

Dramatize Your Story by Using Dilemma, Crisis, Decision & Action, and Resolution
Taught by Jeff Kitchen

$249

On Demand Class - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

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Class hosted by: Jeff Kitchen

20-Year Screenwriting Expert & Advanced Screenwriting Teacher

About The Instructor, Jeff Kitchen: Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in New York theater, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. You can read more about him on his website: www.DevelopmentHeaven.com. Full Bio »

Summary:

Learn directly from Jeff Kitchen, 20-Year Advanced Screenwriting Teacher who has taught Development Executives at all of the major Hollywood Studios!

This is a 4 session working writer intensive advanced course - over 12 hours of advanced instruction!

To succeed as a writer in Hollywood, whether in film, TV, or new media, you need top-notch skills as a storyteller and you need serious chops as a dramatist. The ability to find the dramatic core of your story in any genre and beef up its horsepower are crucial, and yet this is notoriously elusive. However, there is a time-tested technique of putting your protagonist in a good strong dilemma, building it to a crisis, forcing decision and action, and then ultimately resolving the dilemma, one way or the other. The full and proper use of this technique is not well known, however, but Jeff Kitchen has been teaching it for over twenty years. 

The dictionary defines dilemma as a situation with a choice to be made in which neither alternative is acceptable. Two equally unacceptable alternatives—two equally painful choices. The story of a person trapped in a dilemma of magnitude can be riveting. Do you betray your wife or your best friend? Do you tell a dying friend the horrible truth about their son or do you spare them and let them die with their illusions? Are you trapped in a comic situation in which the girl you’ve met is simultaneously the best thing that ever happened to you, as well as the worst? 

Jeff Kitchen is one of Hollywood’s top screenwriting teachers, and will train you to dramatize your stories by using Dilemma, Crisis, Decision & Action, and Resolution. It works in any genre, and always amplifies the inherent dramatic power of any story. This puts the protagonist in a more complex and compelling situation and attracts top actors who seek roles with substance, depth, complexity, and challenge.

Testimonials:

I've worked with Jeff one-on-one for many of my projects. His tools and insights push me to explore the material in a deeper way — and find the dramatic core of the situation. I know he's made me a better writer and made my process more organized and more effective. I highly recommend his book, his classes, and his personal attention.” - Jessica Sharzer - Writer/Producer - American Horror Story

I found your class to be user-friendly and very informative. I especially enjoyed your technique of working backwards from the climax--it really helps to streamline a screenplay and strengthen the throughline. I highly recommend this class to screenwriters of all levels of proficiency. - Debra Meringa - Sony Pictures


Schedule:

Week One - Dilemma

  • Find a central dilemma in your story or create one
  • Amplify the dilemma’s power and the whole script gets more compelling.
  • Turning an ordinary situation into a dilemma.
  • A dilemma of magnitude has to pass the “So what?” test.
  • Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
  • Cornering a wild animal. 
  • Recorded Q&A with Jeff 

Week Two - Crisis

  • Build that dilemma to its critical juncture and force the issue.
  • Crisis is all the worst things happening at the worst possible moment.
  • Put your protagonist in an impossible choice and then hyper-compress the situation.
  • Recorded Q&A with Jeff

Week Three - Decision and Action

  • Decision and Action in the face of Crisis reveals the protagonist’s true character
  • You never know who your real friends are until you’ve been through a crisis with them
  • The crucial distinction between Decision & Action and the protagonist’s Resolution.
  • Recorded Q&A with Jeff

Week Four - Resolution

  • The protagonist actively resolves the dilemma.
  • The Resolution should be firmly fixed in finality so there’s no backsliding.
  • The resolution of the dilemma is also the end of the conflict.
  • The way in which the protagonist resolves the dilemma expresses the Theme of the story.
  • Recorded Q&A with Jeff

This is a 4 session working writer intensive advanced course - over 12 hours of instruction!


About Your Instructor:

About The Instructor, Jeff Kitchen:

Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in New York theater, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. You can read more about him on his website: www.DevelopmentHeaven.com.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: What is the format of a class?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 2 to 4 week ongoing broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the class software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The class software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: What if I cannot attend the live class?
A: If you cannot attend a live class and purchase an On-Demand class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the class afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand class, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!


Testimonials:

Testimonials:

I've worked with Jeff one-on-one for many of my projects. His tools and insights push me to explore the material in a deeper way — and find the dramatic core of the situation. I know he's made me a better writer and made my process more organized and more effective. I highly recommend his book, his classes, and his personal attention.” - Jessica Sharzer - Writer/Producer - American Horror Story

Jeff Kitchen’s writing techniques and teaching have been invaluable tools in my own creative work. His attention to character, process, and form have informed all of my work and will continue to do so. I start every script with the simple question that Jeff asks daily, “What do you want to leave the audience with?” The question and Jeff’s teaching form the foundation for compelling, honest work.” - Ted Melfi - Writer/Director - St. Vincent

Your seminar for Development Executives was by far the best seminar I have ever taken. I have found the tools you discussed to be very instrumental in my analysis of scripts on a day to day basis. Your class is the most comprehensive one offered as far as making people understand how to apply the tools and make them work. This was one class that I can honestly say has helped me to become a stronger executive. I am very grateful to you. I recommend your seminar to anyone in the entertainment industry who wants to know what it takes to make a strong script.” - Jen Grisanti - Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.; Writing Instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge; former 12-year studio executive

I found your class to be user-friendly and very informative. I especially enjoyed your technique of working backwards from the climax--it really helps to streamline a screenplay and strengthen the throughline. I highly recommend this class to screenwriters of all levels of proficiency.” - Debra Meringa - Sony Pictures

Having taken virtually every screenwriting course in existence, I found Jeff Kitchen's workshop to be the most valuable in town. His techniques and tools guide one through the entire process of screenwriting: from basic concept to general script structure and further down to the scene level. Jeff is a master teacher who truly understands the art and technique of the screenplay. His course is worth its weight in gold.” - Chris Brancato - Writer -Hannibal, Law & Order: Criminal Intent

From within the swarm of gimmicky screenwriting seminars and trendy new how-to's, it is Jeff Kitchen's approach, relying heavily on the classic principles of dramatic structure and logic that emerges as truly innovative. His technique is the answer for anyone seeking practical tools with which to diagnose script problems, generate effective solutions, or transform story ideas into compelling drama. Jeff's seminars are aggressive; they are work sessions that produce real results immediately. Come with your sleeves rolled up”. - Erin Quigley - Producer, Development Exec., 23 Red Prods.

Jeff Kitchen’s technique and his dedication to the art of screenwriting taught me writing skills that took my script to a whole new level. I’ve never seen anything like what he teaches, and it works better than anything out there. After taking his course I got top representation and sold a script to New Line Cinema.” - Sam Brown, Screenwriter

I recently attended Jeffrey Kitchen's screenwriting seminar and cannot praise it too highly. He is one of the best teachers I've ever had. His attributes are that rare to find. First, he is clear and concise and is a master of the techniques he teaches. Secondly, he has infinite patience and instinctive generosity so that everyone feels that their project is worthwhile, even as he uncovers its flaws. The technique he teaches is truly extraordinary and Jeffrey, it turns out, may be the only person in the world using it in this particular way. I have taken other screenwriting courses and his is head and shoulders above them all. As a result of Jeffrey's course I feel much more secure in my writing. I finally feel that my script will have the best possible structure.” - Mira Tweti, Screenwriter

Jeff Kitchen teaches the most powerful and practical screenwriting tools in the business. I’ve studied numerous techniques, but Jeff is the first person I’ve met who presents a fully developed craft that screenwriters can actually use. His expertise unlocked, energized, and structured a script that I was completely stumped on and now a major studio is considering it for an A-list actress.” - Jon Van Dyke, Writer-Director

Years ago, I was fortunate to begin my ongoing training with the generation of masters that first wrote for stage, then live television, and then film. Jeffrey is one of the few contemporary writer-teachers with a grounding in those ageless techniques of good drama, a tradition rarely passed to current generations.” - George Higginson, Screenwriter

Jeff Kitchen is the best screenwriting teacher in the world.” - Tom Huckabee, Executive Producer, Frailty

To read Jeff Kitchen's book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting click here!

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • It was 100% obvious that Jeff Kitchen knows what he's talking about when it comes to dramatic core stories. He was very good at breaking down and analyzing the concept. I will absolutely be going through this content again and again, trying to understand it better. Lots to mine, here. I initially gave the class four stars because it seemed like we covered so much of the same ground. But now, two months later, I absolutely get why we did the same thing in each class, because I can spot and create a dilemma immediately, almost by instinct.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

Advanced Plot Construction Technique

Learn directly from Jeff Kitchen, 20-Year Advanced Screenwriting Teacher who has taught Development Executives at all of the major Hollywood Studios! This course was previously recorded. All sessions now available on demand. It's for seasoned writers and development executives; Beginners are absolutely welcome, but please be aware this will be high-impact and fast paced. Dramatic writing is considered the most elusive of all the literary disciplines, and plot construction is notoriously tricky. You must weld together a seething amalgam of ideas, actions, characters, and powerful moments—and the finished product has to roll out one scene after another in a specific order to create maximum dramatic impact. The story has to move ahead crisply and grip the audience in a powerful transformative experience, in any genre. Even seasoned pros struggle with this. Stage 32 Next Level Education is thrilled to bring you our first ever Advanced Screenwriting 10 Week Working Writers Lab! This lab is taught by Jeff Kitchen, who has taught his three-step process, Sequence, Proposition, Plot, to development executives from all the major Hollywood studios—and they consistently say it’s the most advanced development tool in the film industry. Now, for the first time anywhere, Jeff is doing a high-intensity training program on this remarkable tool, an exclusive for Stage 32! In this lab, Jeff will train you in the detailed mechanics of how to work with reverse cause and effect and sophisticated conflict structuring to strip your story down to its absolute essentials and make it work. Then once you got your core story solid, you use Sequence, Proposition, Plot to systematically build out each of the acts, then all the major sequences, and finally all the scenes, writing each scene as you structure it. This gives you a remarkably solid working draft of your story. The lab will be a high-intensity training program, focusing entirely on technique, so you learn how to turn a fairly developed idea into a structured outline that gradually knits all your story elements into a coherent script, developing details as they becomes necessary, and creating gripping conflict that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Sequence, Proposition, Plot enables you to take all the energy that goes into rewrites and engineer your script properly before you write it. Because this is a highly intensive, hands-on format, Jeff will use a mix of lecture, drills, analysis, class work, and homework. Each person should be familiar with the movie, Training Day, starring Denzel Washington. The last hour of each class will be spent building an original story as a class, with each person constructing their own version of the practice story as they learn the detailed mechanics of using this tool fully and properly. The last two sessions will be devoted entirely to intensive work with the demo script that each person is building, structuring scenes and writing dialog based on the deep structure that you’ve developed and constructed. You will emerge with a powerful mastery of this tool, and the habits of mind of the trained dramatist. Class Breakdown: Session 1: Introduction and Instruction on Sequence Work backwards to create a tight chain of cause and effect Separate the necessary from the unnecessary Find the spine of your story, unencumbered by unnecessary detail Get the big picture working, then gradually develop the details Apply reverse cause and effect (Sequence) to the overall story for the practice script Session 2: Instruction on Proposition, Plot Build the core conflict and get the audience on the edge of their seat This works in any genre Test for power and amplify conflict where needed Set up a potential fight and touch off a fight to the finish Apply Proposition, Plot to the overall story for the practice script Session 3: Dramatic Action Create continuous, coherent, compelling dramatic action Work from the macro down to the micro Gradually develop and weave in detail as it becomes necessary Break the overall story down into acts Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I of the practice script Session 4: Writer’s Objective vs. Protagonist’s Objective Learn the difference between the writer’s objective and the protagonist’s objective Create structural unity, with each part serving the whole A sense of proportion orients you in the proper use of this tool Find the holes in your story and create solutions as you flesh the story in Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act II of the practice script Session 5: Cause and Effect Find the cause of an effect, not what came before it If the big picture doesn’t work then the details do not matter An argument actually consist of two opposing arguments Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act III of the practice script Session 6: The Central Dramatic Question Going on the offensive—a declaration of war The central dramatic question does not occur in the middle of the script Break each act down into sequences Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 1 in the practice script Session 7: Create Order From Chaos Chaos is crucial to story creation. Order is crucial to plot construction Learn to stay on track with reverse cause and effect, and not follow false trails Know that your storytelling has to be top notch because well-structured crap is still crap Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 2 in the practice script Session 8: How To Engineer Your Script Before You Start Writing Engineer your screenplay before you write it and save many rewrites Attack the audience Be the master of the tools, not their servant Break down sequences into scenes Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 1 in the practice script Session 9: Work On Practice Script Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 3 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Session 10: Wrap Up Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 1 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 2 in the practice script Then write the dialog for that scene Keep going until we drop About The Instructor, Jeff Kitchen: Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in New York theater, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. You can read more about him on his website: www.DevelopmentHeaven.com. Testimonials About Jeff Kitchen: “I've worked with Jeff one-on-one for many of my projects. His tools and insights push me to explore the material in a deeper way — and find the dramatic core of the situation. I know he's made me a better writer and made my process more organized and more effective. I highly recommend his book, his classes, and his personal attention.” - Jessica Sharzer - Writer/Producer - American Horror Story “Jeff Kitchen’s writing techniques and teaching have been invaluable tools in my own creative work. His attention to character, process, and form have informed all of my work and will continue to do so. I start every script with the simple question that Jeff asks daily, “What do you want to leave the audience with?” The question and Jeff’s teaching form the foundation for compelling, honest work.” - Ted Melfi - Writer/Director - St. Vincent “Your seminar for Development Executives was by far the best seminar I have ever taken. I have found the tools you discussed to be very instrumental in my analysis of scripts on a day to day basis. Your class is the most comprehensive one offered as far as making people understand how to apply the tools and make them work. This was one class that I can honestly say has helped me to become a stronger executive. I am very grateful to you. I recommend your seminar to anyone in the entertainment industry who wants to know what it takes to make a strong script.” - Jen Grisanti - Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.; Writing Instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge; former 12-year studio executive “I found your class to be user-friendly and very informative. I especially enjoyed your technique of working backwards from the climax--it really helps to streamline a screenplay and strengthen the throughline. I highly recommend this class to screenwriters of all levels of proficiency.” - Debra Meringa - Sony Pictures “Having taken virtually every screenwriting course in existence, I found Jeff Kitchen's workshop to be the most valuable in town. His techniques and tools guide one through the entire process of screenwriting: from basic concept to general script structure and further down to the scene level. Jeff is a master teacher who truly understands the art and technique of the screenplay. His course is worth its weight in gold.” - Chris Brancato - Writer - Hannibal, Law & Order: Criminal Intent “From within the swarm of gimmicky screenwriting seminars and trendy new how-to's, it is Jeff Kitchen's approach, relying heavily on the classic principles of dramatic structure and logic that emerges as truly innovative. His technique is the answer for anyone seeking practical tools with which to diagnose script problems, generate effective solutions, or transform story ideas into compelling drama. Jeff's seminars are aggressive; they are work sessions that produce real results immediately. Come with your sleeves rolled up”. - Erin Quigley - Producer, Development Exec., 23 Red Prods. “Jeff Kitchen’s technique and his dedication to the art of screenwriting taught me writing skills that took my script to a whole new level. I’ve never seen anything like what he teaches, and it works better than anything out there. After taking his course I got top representation and sold a script to New Line Cinema.” - Sam Brown, Screenwriter “I recently attended Jeffrey Kitchen's screenwriting seminar and cannot praise it too highly. He is one of the best teachers I've ever had. His attributes are that rare to find. First, he is clear and concise and is a master of the techniques he teaches. Secondly, he has infinite patience and instinctive generosity so that everyone feels that their project is worthwhile, even as he uncovers its flaws. The technique he teaches is truly extraordinary and Jeffrey, it turns out, may be the only person in the world using it in this particular way. I have taken other screenwriting courses and his is head and shoulders above them all. As a result of Jeffrey's course I feel much more secure in my writing. I finally feel that my script will have the best possible structure.” - Mira Tweti, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen teaches the most powerful and practical screenwriting tools in the business. I’ve studied numerous techniques, but Jeff is the first person I’ve met who presents a fully developed craft that screenwriters can actually use. His expertise unlocked, energized, and structured a script that I was completely stumped on and now a major studio is considering it for an A-list actress.” - Jon Van Dyke, Writer-Director “Years ago, I was fortunate to begin my ongoing training with the generation of masters that first wrote for stage, then live television, and then film. Jeffrey is one of the few contemporary writer-teachers with a grounding in those ageless techniques of good drama, a tradition rarely passed to current generations.” - George Higginson, Screenwriter “Jeff Kitchen is the best screenwriting teacher in the world.” - Tom Huckabee, Executive Producer, Frailty   To read Jeff Kitchen's book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting click here!

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