This past week I attended the SCSFe (Screenwriting Conference in Santa Fe) and I had an amazing time. I love learning about writing in any format and I learned many things that will definitely improve my novel writing as well as give me a new creative outlet in screenwriting.

First of all, screenwriters are so cool. Seriously. Unlike introverted thin-skinned novelists (unlike me!) they are tough, funny and determined. They have ideas coming out of their ears, more smart-assed comebacks than a roomful of teenagers and they are willing to be shot down again and again in the hopes that someone, somewhere will like just one of their ideas. I came out of that week tougher, funnier and more determined to be determined!

The conference seemed a little expensive when I registered, but I had no idea that the week would entail exposure to such amazing professional screenwriters and Hollywood producers. I went in confident about my ability as a writer in general but open to new ideas. I was very frank about the fact that my entire screenwriting experience consisted of the assignment I had to finish for the conference itself.

First, we submit the first 10 pages of our screenplay and join a mentor group. Every day in class we’d rip each other’s stuff apart (more or less anonymously) and put it back together–all in a friendly but ruthless way. After lunch, there were seminars for all levels, provided by experienced teachers. In addition, one-on-one critiques were made available. Then we broke for dinner out in the city of Santa Fe–and then the fun began.

Okay, I’ll just say it. Screenwriters really know how to party! Drunken Karaoke, anyone?

Fortunately for me, my mentors were very patient and (once I had been thoroughly spanked for my lousy formatting) were very encouraging about my ability to tell a story on screen. So I buckled down and listened and wrote and learned and I started seeing movies in a way I’d never understood before. I learned an entirely new language in a matter of days!

So a big fat thank you to Ian Abrams, Darren Porter, Wendell Thomas, Ken Rotcop and everyone else who taught me more than I thought was possible to stuff into my overworked little brain. SCSFe is the best conference I have ever attended.

I can’t wait until next year!