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Chicago Screenwriters Network (CSN) is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

Meeting Topics & Guest Speakers

CSN meeting, July 12, 2015: The Primacy of Character in TV Writing

Neal Howard & Ian StreicherOn Sunday, July 12, our guest speakers will be WGA-member Neal Howard and director / producer / writing instructor Ian Streicher, who will make a joint presentation on character-driven writing for television (and these principles extend to film writing as well).

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Sunday, June 14 – Not Just Talk: How Screenwriters Approach Dialogue

On Sunday, June 14, our guest speaker will be Penny Penniston, author of Talk The Talk: A Dialogue Workshop For Scriptwriters.

In this seminar, Penny will discuss the mechanics of dialogue writing: she will explain the forces which put dialogue in motion, move characters into conflict, shape lines, and create subtext. You will end the seminar with new insight into the inner workings of dialogue, with a rewrite guides to sharpen your scripts — and, possibly, with a free book donated by Penny for the door prize raffle drawing at the end of the meeting!

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“Heads Up!” Avoiding and Solving Common Screenplay Problems

On May 10th, the Chicago Screenwriters Network Speaker Series presents Mary Ruth Clarke, who co-wrote and starred in the original Meet the Parents and co-adapted it into the blockbuster version that starred Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro. She has script doctored many screenplays, including A Guy Thing and The Godfather of Green Bay. She’s a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, where she teaches screenwriting, and beginning this June she will be teaching at Second City’s Film, TV and Digital division.

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How To Write A Great Ending – April 12, 2015 CSN meeting

On Sunday, April 12th, our guest speaker will be Grant Robbin, a screenwriting coach and an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, whose presentation is entitled How To Write A Great Ending.


If you don’t have a strong, compelling ending, you don’t have a story! In this unique, enlightening presentation, utilizing various movie clips, Grant will show you how to create great endings. He will discuss different kinds of endings: the lesser of two evils, two irreconcilable goods, up, down, ironic, open, closed, false and contrived (a.k.a., the “deus ex machina”). Grant will further explore how a solid ending is the key to unlocking the character arc and theme of your story.

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Sun. March 8th meeting – “WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM?”: No Conflict = No Story

Our guest speaker for March 2015 will be novelist and writing instructor Mary Carter of The Writers Loft. Her presentation will be on the topic of conflict — one of the key elements of storytelling — and is entitled “What’s Your Problem?”

As the late Jerry Cleaver stated in his book Immediate Fiction, “No Conflict = No Story”. Jerry founded The Writers Loft course and he was Mary’s writing mentor; her CSN presentation will be drawn from the book and from Jerry’s course materials. Mary assumed Jerry’s role as instructor of The Writers Loft following his death last year.

Screenwriters of all levels — as well as members of the creative, film, and television communities — are invited to this meeting, which takes place on Sunday, March 8, 2015 (6:00-8:30pm), at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, 3905 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago. [CSN meets on the 2nd floor.]

Mrs. Murphy & Sons has a parking lot for guests two doors south of the restaurant at the SE corner of Lincoln & Byron.  Add’l. street parking on Lincoln Ave. is free on Sundays; also, side streets in the area do not require permits for parking.

The doors open at 6:00pm for drinks, dining, and networking; the panel discussion commences at 7:00pm, followed by Q&A with audience members.

Admission is $5.00 in advance via Eventbrite — available until two (2) hours before the meeting begins — or $10.00 at the door.

Admission is free of charge for CSN annual membership holders; memberships can be purchased for $40.00/year at the door or via the Chicago Screenwriters Network website.