If you’ve landed here, it’s because you have a story idea that won’t leave you alone.
You have a novel, or a screenplay, or a memoir, or a play, TV series or solo show, that wants to come through you, and it won’t go away. You’ve been through all the reasons not to do it (I don’t have time! I don’t know how! I’ve never written a (insert genre here) before!)
But it won’t go away.
I believe that means the world needs your voice. And I’m here to give you a concrete methodology to answer that calling--to create your story from the ground up and make it great.
I’ve tested this methodology through fifteen years writing, directing and acting in film, TV and theater and ten years coaching writers, screenwriters and creators. It’s the driving force behind everything I’ve ever written or directed, it’s my roadmap when I’m acting in other people’s projects, and I’ve used it to help hundreds of clients and students crack their stories, make something out of nothing, and create powerfully impactful work.
And it works--for every creator, in every storytelling medium.
Character Based Story Structure is a 14 module course that gives you access to my complete methodology--one that I’ve used to help clients imagine, write and finish hit TV series, Sundance-supported films, Off-Broadway solo shows, published novels and memoirs--and to liberate their creativity, build incredible artistic discipline, and massively uplevel their creative output.
Together, we’ll move through every step in my methodology, and I’ll guide you to your best work with impeccable technique, radical empathy and an unflinching eye.
Here’s what you’ll get:
I’m Jessica Blank, and I’m a writer, director, actor, speaker, and coach on a mission to impact our world through the transformative power of story.
My work as a playwright, screenwriter, director, filmmaker, actor, author, documentarian, and TV writer has taken me from studio lots in Los Angeles to military hospitals in San Antonio; the mountains of Appalachia to refugee neighborhoods in Amman; Off-Broadway rehearsal rooms to policymakers’ marble offices. I’ve worked with TV producers, NGO founders, movie stars, thought leaders and filmmakers; in the New York theater, in Hollywood, and in universities across the country. My work as a storyteller has impacted policy, moved high-level decision makers, even saved lives—and I figured out how to do it from scratch, through trial and error (which means I can teach it to you!)
Every day, I see in my own work and that of my clients story’s power to transform—to move us, change us, and make us see our world in new ways. My life is devoted to understanding and working with this power, across mediums, to expand our capacity for empathy, to move people, and to evolve our understanding of each other and our world.
“Jessica is the Michael Jordan of story. She takes you on a journey deep into your characters, and shows you how to weave that journey into the DNA of the story you’re trying to tell. Her process doesn’t feel like work. She’s fun, she’s funny, she’s brilliant. Your script will thank you for her.”
— Barry O'Brien, Executive Producer: CSI:MIAMI, THE FOLLOWING, TOUCH, CASTLE, co-creator of HANNAH MONTANA
Each module builds on the next as I take you step-by-step through my process to build your creative habit, navigate resistance, and develop, build, structure, write, and rewrite your project. By the end of this course, if you commit to the work, you will have a finished, professional-caliber script or manuscript, and a concrete way of working that you can apply to every single story you create in the future.
Module 1: Create Your Writing Practice
Module 2: Navigating Resistance
Module 3: The “Why” of Storytelling
Module 4: Your Two Brains
Module 5: Idea Development
Module 6: Character Construction 1: Ecological Psychological Structure
Module 7: Character Construction 2: Building Your Character
Module 8: The Quest
Module 9: World Building
Module 10: The Story Document
Module 11: The Outline
Module 12: The Bad Draft
Module 13: The First Draft
Module 14: Rewrites, Polishes, and Taking it Into the World
“Tapping into Jessica's brain is bracing and rewarding. She's one of those dazzling, all-pistons-firing creative types, spanning directing, acting, and writing for page, stage and screen. Her teaching reflects not just her passion and empathy, but also her ability to extract the work’s purest essence.”
-David Handelman, TV writer/producer
(NASHVILLE, HBO's THE NEWSROOM, THE WEST WING, STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP)
“I am not exaggerating when I say that working with Jessica changed my life. She transformed my approach to writing and as a result, the writing itself . . . She is the best kind of teacher because she helps you figure out for yourself what you want to achieve and how to get there - rather than dictating the what or how as so many teachers do.”
— Sara Alize Cross, filmmaker
(2017 fellow, HBO Access Writing Fellowship; finalist, PAGE International Screenwriting Awards; recipient, Jack Oakie Comedy Fellowship and Jeffery Jones Scholarship for Screenwriting)
“I have found Jessica to be a galvanizing force in my creative life, from career consulting to script sorcery. She is a badass who knows when to lead and when to listen, a magician and a midwife. When you're ready to shift from creative to creator, call Jessica."
-Erik Liberman, actor, playwright, screenwriter
(WAR PAINT on Broadway; LOVEMUSIK on Broadway; HBO's VINYL, SHOWTIME's THE KNICK)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What experience level is this course geared toward?
This course is for beginners, intermediate AND advanced storytellers. The principles are the same at all levels, and they’re deep--which means they can be learned and practiced in layers, forever. I’ve been writing theater, film, television, fiction and nonfiction for fifteen years, and I embody these principles in my own work in new and deeper ways constantly. Each story is unique, so each project is a new lesson and a new chance to practice. These story structure principles are multilayered, powerful, and as old as our species--and I’ve assembled them into a complete and workable methodology that revolutionizes the creative process of even the most experienced professionals.
I have an idea, but I’ve never written before. Will this be over my head?
Not at all! I grew up studying classical music, where you learn from the ground up-- first you learn how to hold the instrument, and then you learn scales, then simple exercises, then etudes, so by the time you get to the concertos you’ve got solid ground to stand on. (And the most accomplished virtuosos go back and work their scales all the time!) I believe in giving artists a complete way of working so that there are no gaps in your process. We start at the very beginning, and build everything step by step, so no previous experience is required.
Can I skip over the beginning, then? I’ve been writing professionally for years.
Nope! The way I teach the “basics” is deep. I’ve been writing professionally for years too, and the beginning steps are the ones I go back to every time--and they deepen every time I go back to them. Think of them less as “beginning” steps and more as the soil everything is planted in. There’s always room to fertilize, enrich, and till that ground.
What do I need to start this course? An outline? A script?
You need an idea that won’t leave you alone. A story-based project that you want to manifest. That’s all. You don’t have to have written one word. You don’t even need to know a whole lot about your idea yet. You just need to have it.
How many projects can I work on in this course?
This course is designed to guide you through the process of creating a single project at a time. Step by step. From beginning to end. But it’s also designed for you to be able to use the course again and again--and once you buy it, you have lifetime access. So you can use this course over and over, as a roadmap for any script or book you ever want to write.
You said this course is for people who want to write a screenplay, a play, a TV pilot, a novel, a solo show, or a memoir. Those are all different mediums--how can one course apply to all of them?
Yup, those are all different mediums. But they share a common structure. And they’re all grounded in one thing--character. My methodology teaches you to build story out of character-- a process that applies to every single one of those forms. And once we lay the foundations shared among all character-based forms, the course goes into the specificities and structural quirks of each. I’m a published and produced artist in every medium listed above, and I’m highly experienced in navigating both the commonalities between them and the unique challenges of each form--so I can speak to all of them.
14 modules--that’s a lot. What if I fall off the program?
Life happens! And most creators have put down and picked up their projects many, many times. (Sometimes that downtime actually winds up marinating things and sparking incredible new discoveries). Once you buy the program, you have lifetime access, so if you fall off, just pick it back up again when you’re ready. The work will be there for you.
I want to create my project, but I’m so busy. Will I really have time to do this course? How much time will it take?
In my private coaching practice, I work with people whose lives look totally different from each other. I have clients who are full-time professional writers with the freedom to chart their own course; I have clients who are executive producers on TV shows (that’s a 60-hour a week gig) and writing their own scripts on the side; I have clients who are parents of young kids, or who are caretakers for their own parents. I have clients who work full-time office jobs and write in the mornings, and clients who are creative freelancers who work in four art forms all at once. My creative productivity methodologies are designed to create a consistent, reliable, productive creative habit for everyone who uses them--no matter what the structure of your life looks like. One of the first things we do in the course is walk through the realities of your own life and schedule to design a practice that works for you. Reliably and consistently. Whether you have three hours a week to spend on this, or thirty. If you’re working less hours a week in the course, you’ll move through it slower- and if you have the ability to devote a lot of time to it per week, you can crank out your project fast. But it’s designed to work for everyone. No matter what.
I want to write my project, but I’m totally blocked and I have been forever. Since I’m so stuck, will signing up for this just be a waste?
No way. That is exactly what I’m here for. This course contains tools to unblock you right away--and concrete homework and assignments to keep you putting one foot in front of the other. You will never be left wondering what to do next again. And you’ll have concrete, incredibly effective tools to move through resistance and conquer “writer’s block” once and for all--so that your channel stays open and your new normal becomes radical creative productivity.
"Jessica is incredibly smart and insightful. She is whip-smart and asks all the right questions, and has helped me develop plays, screenplays, and TV pilots. She has a way of getting to the heart of whatever I am working on to help me pull forth the strongest, most interesting parts. . . She always pushes me to probe deeper. Honest, funny, brilliant. . . she is, quite simply, the best."
-Ted Malawer, staff writer, NBC's RISE, Playwriting Fellow at the Juilliard School, author
(several novels with Random House, Penguin and Running Press)
Ready to go all in, manifest that idea you’ve been carrying for years, learn a way of working that will serve and support everything you ever write, and make radically impactful, exquisitely crafted work?