Where are they now? Jacob McDonald: Aspiring Screenwriter

Aug 03, 2016 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Thanks to IEW and the Student Writing Intensive courses, which teach you how to write, not just what to write, I am able to express myself through my passion—screenwriting.

IEW alum Jacob McDonald is a college student from Ohio majoring in digital media and an aspiring screenwriter. But that wasn’t what stood out in my recent interview with him. Jacob’s is an inspiring success story of a student who went from hating writing to choosing a career path that requires a “love of writing.” Not only did he improve as a writer through his IEW experience, but he also gained confidence in his abilities, which serves him well today.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

Right now I am moving into my junior year at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. I am studying broadcasting and digital media with a concentration in film and screenwriting.

How old were you when you first started IEW?

I started using IEW courses in the spring semester of 8th grade. I worked through the Student Writing Intensive* courses.

How do you feel your IEW training has helped you in college?

In a few ways, one of which actually changed my life.

Screenwriting  involves lots of storytelling—and even more writing. A screenplay can go on for hundreds and hundreds of pages. But before IEW, I used to absolutely hate writing.

My elementary school taught basic writing, and we were required to do some writing projects. I often knew what I wanted to write about, but I never really knew how to write, which became very discouraging during elementary school and going into middle school.

Cathy Flowers, one of your Accredited Instructors, brought me back to the fundamentals of grammar and then moved me through more advanced grammar and different types of writing. My writing didn’t just improve through the IEW method, it drastically improved. I really began to enjoy writing, and it got to a point where I began to write short stories, just for the fun of it.

Writing short stories eventually changed into more elaborate script writing. Thanks to IEW and the Student Writing Intensive* courses, which teach you how to write, not just what to write, I am able to express myself through my passion—screenwriting.  

Do you use your IEW skills in other areas besides writing?

Definitely in structuring my thoughts. While learning new ways of writing, I also had to learn how to outline my papers. By using only a few words to build a paper, I developed a skill that has come in handy in multiple areas. Whenever I have had to do a presentation or a speech, I’ve used a key word outline to plan and present. After I began to apply this method to my speeches, they really improved.  

What’s the big picture for your future?

Hopefully, I will one day be able to take my writing, take my scripts, and pursue a film career. Ultimately, I would love to be both writing and  producing films.

If you could go back and tell elementary-school you one thing, what would it be?

Learn what you can, and be confident in what you are doing. This is something that I have to continue to tell myself today. IEW didn’t just help my writing and give me a new option for a career, it also gave me a lot of confidence. I wish I had had that confidence much earlier on.

All too often, writing curricula can focus so much on what to write that they neglect to teach much about how to write. This focus on content to the exclusion of mechanics and method can stifle the very ideas that children are bursting to express. Jacob’s experience of having things to say but not knowing how to shape his ideas so that they could be expressed is an all too familiar story. Thanks to IEW, once he learned the Structure and Style™ process for writing, his creativity exploded. Although Jacob didn’t begin IEW training until eighth grade, learning how to structure his thoughts through the use of key word outlines proved to be a life-changing experience. Jacob’s passion for storytelling, which had been hidden behind the intimidating task of putting words on paper, could finally be expressed.

How will IEW’s Structure and Style methodology change your student’s lives?


*The Student Writing Intensive series was discontinued in November 2019 and replaced by the new Structure and Style for Students program.

Growing up in the Pudewa family, Christopher Pudewa was exposed to the IEW method from a very young age. During high school he had the privilege of competing in the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association, where he was able to apply the skills he had learned through IEW. Chris is currently attending the University of Oklahoma, majoring in Criminology and Psychology.

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