FAQs

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Writing

What do you want to write? A movie? A short story? A book? A TV programme? An article in a magazine? A stage play? A computer game? There are many different types of writing, and WGSA concentrates on performance writing., which means we do no actively work with prose writers like novelists, journalists or short story writers. But there often is an overlap between the different writing genres, so you can approach WGSA to help you get in touch with the right people.

Please also note that writing is not about being rich and famous. It’s about needing to write, about having something to say and doing it, even if you have to work in the middle of the night with an empty stomach.Writing is hard and frustrating work, the hardest you might ever do, but in the end it is also one of the most emotionally and creatively satisfying occupations you can get.

As Stephen King said, “I think that writers are made, not born or created out of dreams or childhood trauma – that becoming a writer is a direct result of conscious will. Of course there has to be some talent involved, but talent is a dreadfully cheap commodity, cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work and study; a constant process of honing.”


Yes, sure. But then don’t be surprised if you receive no response. It is very, very unlikely that you will find a producer or a director or even a lowly script reader, who will read through 90-odd unsolicited pages. A more effective strategy is to NOT send the entire script. Rather, prepare a good logline and synopsis of the script, and use these to attract interest in response to calls for scripts, which you can find en-masse on the internet.. A logline is one paragraph which tells the reader who and what your story is about- the essence of the story or idea – and should not exceed 100 words. A synopsis consists of one to (at very most) 3 pages, which summarises the story or idea, gives a sense of the characters as well as the look and feel.

Before sending out your logline and synopsis, please ensure that you have secured copyright on your script by registering it with the WGSA Script Registry.


There is no provision in South African law to register ones copyright, other than copyright in a film as defined in the Copyright Act. What that means is that there is no copyright on an idea. It has to be written out to a minimum of synopsis length, and has to give a good outline of your characters, the problems they face and how they resolve their challenge. In other words, the more detail you put on paper, the better your chance of proving that a particular work is your Intellectual Property. The WGSA Script Registry allows you to lodge your synopsis, treatment and/or screenplay in a safe environment, and have it registered to your name on the date and time you submit it. This holds up in court as proof of ownership of the work as lodged. If you suspect that your work has been plagiarised , the copy you submitted to the registry will be compared to the work of the other party, and similarities in the story and character arcs as well as dialogue will be evaluated. Just changing names of characters and places is no longer sufficient to misappropriate a script or screenplay, and courts both locally and internationally have ruled very hard against people trying to steal other writers’ Intellectual Property.


Courses in prose writing and scriptwriting are offered by many tertiary institutions (universities), film schools and individuals, as well as the WGSA.

You need to be clear on the following before choosing a course:

  1. What do you want to learn? For example, do you want to learn the basics of writing, or have you written a script that you want to polish and improve?
  2. How much time do you have? Are you in a situation where you can study full-time or part-time? Or do you only want to explore your interest in writing by doing a weekend course?
  3. How much can you afford to pay? Some courses are subsidised, like the Spark course run by the NFVF, but most courses are run as commercial ventures, and a fee is payable.
  4. WGSA offers monthly day sessions with local experts, and once a year a two-day session with an international expert.
    Please feel free to contact the WGSA or check the website for information of our courses on offer.

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