"Dara identifies what is missing in the heart of most of our modern stories and she shows us how to reclaim it."
David Huff, Producer/Co-Writer
Simple Things

Lectures and Workshops

Dara Marks teaches seminars and workshops in the U.S. and around the world on the development of story and character. If you would like more information regarding hosting a seminar or workshop in your community, please contact us.

Lecture Descriptions

INSIDE STORY - Lecture or Seminar
INSIDE STORY is an exploration of techniques and methods that can be utilized to help writers identify and keep focused on the deeper, thematic, emotional and even spiritual dimensions of their story. It incorporates the fundamentals of traditional story structure, but it then takes that paradigm one step beyond and identifies an interior structure that forms the Transformational Arc of the Character. This arc illuminates the inner journey that a character takes while moving through the external events (or plot) of the story, which especially resonates with the audience because it parallels our own experiences in real life. An incident or series of events only has profound meaning if it leads us to a greater and deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. The Transformational Arc can be found in all genres and is what separates good scripts from great scripts.

Incorporating the principles of story development taught in the INSIDE STORY seminar, this workshop focuses on assisting writers in accessing and utilizing their own internal, creative vision to make stronger and more powerful story choices. Personal and interactive exercises will help writers hone techniques that will greatly improve the quality of all aspects of their writing, including: plot, character and dialogue development, thematic interpretation, and the deeper understanding of story structure through the use of the transformational arc.

Through the use of mythological and psychological models, this course offers writers inspirational new insight into the use of both the hero and heroine's journey as structural models for modern storytelling.

Sometimes violence is a necessary symbol in a story, and sometimes violence itself can be used to make an especially strong anti-violent statement. However, too often violence has no meaning or value and is simply a marketing tool that unfortunately works; it sells movies. So if we’re looking to effectively combat gratuitous violence, we must create alternative storylines that sell as well. An exciting approach to this is to engage the feminine heroic. This class offers an alternative view of the heroic journey that by its very nature expands our vision of conflict resolution in our stories and in our lives.

There are universal patterns of human behavior that we all consciously or unconsciously recognize. These are called archetypes. There is enormous power when a story taps into archetypal characters or situations because it enables the audience to identify with the story on the deepest possible levels. The success of films like Gone with the Wind, It’s a Wonderful Life, Rocky, Forrest Gump, and even Pulp Fiction can be attributed in no small part to the archetypal development of character. Identifying and knowing how to utilize archetypes in a story is a formidable tool that no writer should be without.

All seminars and lectures can be customized both in time and content to suit specific audience needs. Additional lecture topics can also be developed upon request.

General Notes and Time Requirements

Notes Time Options
Lectures vary in length from one hour to a full day wherein Dara speaks on one or more specific topics.

1-2 hours
1 day (8 hours)
Workshops are completely interactive and participative, using exercises to focus on the writing process. They are designed to improve writing skills and focus on plot, character, dialogue, thematic intention, and the deeper understanding of story structure through the use of the transformational arc. 4 hours
Weekend Intensive (16 hours)
10-week Intensive (20 hours)

Past speaking engagements have included:
  • The American Film Institute
  • Disney, Sony & Warner Bros. workshops
  • Screenwriter's Expo
  • The Hollywood Film Institute
  • "Selling to Hollywood" conference
  • MOVIDA and the Asian American Media Development Project
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Florida
  • National Film School of Denmark
  • Private seminars in London
  • RAI-TV, Rome (10-week writers workshop)
  • Conference for Caribbean and South American Screenwriters, Curacao
  • Bulgarian National Film Center
  • Organization of Black Screenwriters
  • Screenwriting organizations throughout the United States