As far as a regular participant goes, I've been bad. I haven't gone in a while to our bi-monthly screenwriter's group meeting. Many times I haven't been able to attend because I've been doing shows, but I haven't done a show for a while. I decided last Wednesday I should go.
We meet in the office where the organizer, Blake works. On the walls are framed movie posters, mostly movies that appeal to the geeks and nerds inside us all. And many times we discuss those films, but we also talk about other things, too. Normally, we have either a feature film to critique, a TV episode, or a short. Last week we had none of those--it happens sometimes. During those times the group improvises.
Because screenwriting is, at its core, storytelling, we discussed some of the points on how to best tell a story. We talked about conflict, what's at stake, themes, character types, and how all those ingredients can be combined to create magic. Every movie begins with a story. Every great movie begins with a great story and every crappy movie usually begins with a crappy story.
In the past the group has critiqued some of my the stories, and by "critiqued," I mean ripped apart. They were not unkind, but then group is honest. If your story stinks they will let you know. It's a good thing, really. If a story is not where it needs to be, at some point someone needs to tell you that. I know this group will (because they have...).
I'd like to attend more. I should. They discuss sound principles and they're students of the craft of filmmaking. I hit a home run with the very first screenplay I wrote. Of course, that was over a decade ago. Will it happen again? I really can't say, but I'm confident that if I do get another script made into an award-winning movie, I'll have the guys and gals in my screenwriting group to help thank for it.