The goal of our work together is to introduce prose writers to the basic techniques and strategies that will help them turn their creative prose work into screenplays.

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Time: 20:00 to 22:00

Duration: 5 March, 2023

Location: QWF Office—1200 Atwater Avenue, Room 3, Westmount, QC View map


Candidates for this workshop should have some writing experience and be comfortable reading out loud.

The goal of our work together is to introduce prose writers to the basic techniques and strategies that will help them turn their creative prose work into screenplays. It will also help experienced screenwriters to adapt literary works for the screen.

The key to a successful workshop is the sharing of the same base experiences. To this end we will read several short stories which have been adapted successfully for the screen and watch these films together at least twice.

Once we have passed through this necessary phase we can begin to work on the participants’ own projects, following the best practices of the screenwriter’s craft. We will first collectively read the participants’ original prose work (ten pages or less per person), and discuss possible approaches to adaptation, including choices of style, tone, content, and structure. Once the participants are satisfied with their choice of project, they will move on to the treatment stage which is the script without dialogue.

The treatments will be read out collectively and comments will be shared before the participants move on to the script with dialogue phase. It is expected that each participant will re-write their final script at least twice, possibly three times. Reading out loud and acting out screenplays on behalf of fellow participants is necessary and obligatory.

To sign up for this workshop, please submit a paragraph describing your goals and desires, both for the workshop and for the future.

Reading/Viewing list:

  • Roddy Doyle’s, “New boy,” written and directed for the screen by Steph Green
  • Roald Dahl’s, “The Sound Machine,” adapted as a short film by Zahid Chohan
  • Donald Barthelme’s, “The Balloon,” on which Martynas Zaremba based her short film.

With these three shorts we go from sophisticated straight narrative to two films that are progressively less “literary” and more cinematic in form and content.

The three short story PDFs and the YouTube links to the three short films will be available in the workshop Drop Box before the workshop begins and participants are expected to read/watch them before the first meeting. Participants are also encouraged to think about their own favourite screen adaptations and to be prepared to discuss them.

Workshop leader

Jacob Potashnik headshot

Jacob Potashnik has been a successful line-producer and producer of commercial media productions since 1990. Concurrent to this career, Jacob has always written. He earned a Genie nomination and the Writers Guild of Canada Screenplay Award for his script work on Denys Arcand’s Stardom, and was chosen by Leonard Cohen to adapt the novel, Beautiful Losers for the screen, a project still pending. In 2017 his first prose collection, The Golem of Hampstead and Other Stories, was a finalist for QWF’s Concordia University First Book Prize.


Registration for this workshop is now closed.

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