Introduction to Screenwriting

Introduction to Screenwriting

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

$120.00 Enroll Now!

Instructor-Led Course
Hours: 24
Duration of Access: 6 weeks
Start Dates: Jul 16, Aug 20, Sep 17, Oct 15
1,234 Students
have taken this course.

Syllabus

A new session of each course starts monthly. If enrolling in a series of two or more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two months apart.

Week 1

Wednesday - Lesson 01

In our first lesson, we'll discuss the increasing opportunities for new screenwriters and all the ways you can use those opportunities to build your own career. You'll find out why it's going to be so much easier to get a movie made in the near future and what that could mean for your career as a writer. Then you'll get an insight into the three basic elements that any script needs to succeed: a great concept, compelling characters, and a strong structure. Finally, we'll examine what your script needs to look like, and we'll explore ways to achieve that easily. By the end of this lesson, you'll be ready to dive into this exciting world.

Friday - Lesson 02

In this lesson, we're going to explore why we don't just love stories—we need them. We'll search in our distant past to discover where stories come from, and then we'll rocket back to the present to understand how they work.  We're going to examine the rules that define Western storytelling, and then you'll learn the one simple sentence that will allow you to create compelling stories for your own scripts. Finally, we'll take a close look at the master story that underlies almost every other story ever told and find out how it can help you shape your own stories.

Week 2

Wednesday - Lesson 03

In this lesson, we're going to look into the very heart and soul of any story—the conflicts that drive it. We're going to pull some stories apart to see why they don't tick, and then we'll put them back together the right way so they do. You're going to learn about the one central feature that defines every story, and the seven conflicts that define all stories. Finally, we're going to examine how you can take a deeply personal internal story and turn it into a movie that audiences will love.

Friday - Lesson 04

In this lesson, we're going to unlock the secrets of creating great characters. We're going to blow up the stale formulas of "building profiles" and focus on the essence of your characters instead of the details. We'll find out how to strip characters down to the central conflict at their core, and then we'll explore ways to build them back up into living, breathing human beings. And then we'll see how even the most brilliantly developed characters can fall flat on the page and how to bring them to life.

Week 3

Wednesday - Lesson 05

In this lesson, we're going to blast through all the reams of nonsense that have been written about the mysterious complexities of the three-act structure and reveal how simple and elegant it really can be. We'll analyze what goes into each of the acts, and figure out how to use them to tell an unforgettable story. And we'll tackle the dreaded task of outlining, explaining why it's essential—and how to make it easier and more productive.

Friday - Lesson 06

In this lesson, we're going to take a hard look at how to start your stories. We'll examine the subtle elements necessary to get your script off to the right start and explore the ways you can accidentally send your audience off-course. Then we'll tear apart the opening of some great movies to see what makes them tick. Finally, we'll tackle the one quality your first pages need more than any other.

Week 4

Wednesday - Lesson 07

In this lesson, we're going to tackle the hardest part of any script—the second act. We're going to explore the reasons why it's so much more difficult to plot than the first and third acts, and then we'll zero in on the one sure way to make sure you'll always have enough story to fill the great middle of your screenplay. Through close examination of one brilliantly structured script, we'll discover the essential element that keeps stories alive through act two. Finally, we'll take a hard look at act two's crucial structural component, and how you can make it work for you.

Friday - Lesson 08

In this lesson, you're going to find out why some scripts have endings you'll never forget—and some have finales you'd rather not remember. We're going to explore the mysterious, contradictory nature of the great ending, and you'll discover how those last few scenes can completely transform everything that's come before. Then we'll tear apart a few finales to understand why some soar and others sink. Finally, we'll take a hard look at that most difficult ending to pull off, the big twist.

Week 5

Wednesday - Lesson 09

In this lesson, you're going to take those first steps from outline to script. You're going to see the difference between a scene that exists as a paragraph in an outline and one that comes vividly to life on the page. You'll dive into the process of creating exciting scenes that pop from the first line and how to keep them going until the end. And finally, you'll learn the one trick that will always turn a flat scene into one that sings.

Friday - Lesson 10

In this lesson, you're going to learn what makes film dialogue special, and how you can use it to create and develop your characters. You'll get a tour through various types of dialogue with stops to explain the particular challenges each one poses and the rewards each brings. You'll find out why screenwriting is the one place where it's never good to be on the money, and how to get off it. And finally, you'll get a map to tell you how to avoid the biggest trap in writing dialogue.

Week 6

Wednesday - Lesson 11

In this lesson, we're going to celebrate our finished first draft—and then leap into rewriting it from top to bottom. We'll explore what the real purpose of the first draft actually is and how to get the most out of it. We'll find the joy of the accidental discovery and investigate how to use that to make the script better than you ever consciously knew it could be. You'll get a demonstration of how this works in practice. Finally, I'll give you a step-by-step roadmap for approaching your rewrite.

Friday - Lesson 12

In this lesson, we're going to take your finished script and turn it into a movie. We'll explore the ways you can get your script to the movers and shakers in Hollywood—and divine which movers and shakers you should target.  We'll weigh the merits of agents and managers, contests and script analysts who promise to get your screenplay to all the top executives. Then we'll take a clear look at an alternative way to get your script made into a film that reflects your vision. Finally, we'll talk about ways to encourage and manage your growth as a writer while you work toward your big break.


Review

I will never watch a movie or television program in the same way again! I will be watching for the interesting characters, how soon the script grabs my attention, the conflicts, the mid-point turn, the end-of-the-second-act climax, the progress toward the conclusion and the satisfying (or at least well written) ending! Thank you so much for your great teaching style; I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed this class and what you've taught all of us in a few short weeks.

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