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ed2go Writing Writing and Editing Introduction to Screenwriting
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screenwriting

Introduction to Screenwriting

There's never been a better time to start a career as a screenwriter. With technological breakthroughs bringing the cost of making and distributing movies down to almost nothing, there is an ever-increasing demand for great scripts—and for people who can write them. Whether you want to write micro-budget indie films or Hollywood blockbusters, this course will teach you everything you need to know to write a script that sells.

You will learn the fundamentals of stories—why audiences need them, what they expect from them, and what kinds of stories work time after time. You'll discover how to create characters audiences connect with and how to write dialogue that will bring them to life. You will get hands-on experience through a series of short writing assignments that will have you working like a pro from the very beginning of the course. In addition, you'll get an inside look into the business of selling your script and building your career as a writer. When you finish the course, you'll be ready to start writing your own script!

6 Weeks / 24 Course Hrs
Starting March 18, 2020

Offered in Partnership with your Preferred School

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Learning Method

Instructor-led

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Starting March 18 | April 15
Self-Paced

No instructor. Study on your own schedule

Introduction to Screenwriting

Details + Objectives

Course Code: isw

What You Will Learn
  • Learn the basic elements of compelling storytelling and how to use them in your own writing
  • Discover how to transform a rough idea into a finished and marketable screenplay
  • Examine how good screenplays use character, conflict, and dialogue to connect with an audience
  • Learn how to turn your writing talent into a career - with an overview of the industry and its key players
How the course is taught
  • Instructor-led or self-paced online course
  • 6-12 weeks to complete
  • 24 course hours
How you will benefit
  • Gain confidence in your ability to write compelling stories and share your ideas with an audience
  • Learn the important aspects that make a screenplay sell, and be on your way to a successful, fulfilling career
  • Discover how to turn beats from a simple and rough outline into vivid, exciting drama

Outline

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Why Write a Script Now?

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.

What Is a Story?

In this lesson, you'll explore why people don't just love stories—they need them. You'll search the distant past to discover where stories come from and then rocket back to the present to understand how they work. You'll examine the rules that define Western storytelling and then learn the one simple sentence that will allow you to create compelling stories for your own scripts. Finally, you'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.

Conflict

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

Creating Characters

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

Screenplay Structure

In this lesson, you'll 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. You'll analyze what goes into each of the acts and figure out how to use them to tell an unforgettable story. After that, you'll tackle the dreaded task of outlining and learn why it's essential—and how to make it easier and more productive.

Beginnings

In this lesson, you'll take a hard look at how to start your stories. You'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 you'll tear apart the opening of some great movies to see what makes them tick. Finally, you'll tackle the one quality your first pages need more than any other.

Middles

In this lesson, you'll tackle the hardest part of any script—the second act. You'll explore the reasons why it's so much more difficult to plot than the first and third acts and then 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, you'll discover the essential element that keeps stories alive through act two. Finally, you'll take a hard look at act two's crucial structural component, and how you can make it work for you.

The End

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

The Scene

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.

Dialogue or No Dialogue

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.

The Rewrite

In this lesson, you'll celebrate your finished first draft—and then leap into rewriting it from top to bottom. You'll explore what the real purpose of the first draft is and how to get the most out of it. You'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, you'll receive a step-by-step roadmap for approaching your rewrite.

Your Script and You

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

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Instructors & Support

William Rabkin

William Rabkin is a veteran writer/producer whose 300-plus hours of produced television include Monk, Psych, and The Glades. He has served as "showrunner" on Diagnosis Murder, Martial Law, and She-Wolf of London, and has written a dozen network pilots. He is the co-creator and co-editor of Amazon Publishing's bestselling Dead Man series of action horror novels, and has also published five additional novels and two books on writing, Successful Television Writing (2003, with Lee Goldberg) and Writing the Pilot (2011). As a teacher, he has lectured and led workshops for writers, producers, and executives in Spain, Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and led traditional classes at UCLA Extension and Stephens College. He is currently an adjunct professor of screenwriting in the University of California, Riverside-Palm Desert's low-residency MFA program.

Requirements

Requirements

Prerequisites:

There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Requirements:

Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows XP or later.
  • Mac: OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Flash Player. Click here to download the Flash Player.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click here to download the Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.

Other:

  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.
Instructional Materials

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.

FAQs

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When can I get started?

Instructor-Led: A new session of each course begins each month. Please refer to the session start dates for scheduling.

Self-Paced: You can start this course at any time your schedule permits.

How does it work?

Instructor-Led: Once a session starts, two lessons will be released each week, for the 6 week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends.

Self-Paced: You have three-month access to the course. After enrolling, you can learn and complete the course at your own pace, within the allotted access period.

How long do I have to complete each lesson?

Instructor-Led: The interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes 2 weeks after each lesson is released, so you're encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.

Self-Paced: There is no time limit to complete each lesson, other than completing all lessons before your three-month access.

What if I need an extension?

Instructor-Led: The Final Exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the Final Exam has been released, you will have 2 weeks plus 10 days to complete the Final and finish any remaining lessons in your course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.

Self-Paced: Because this course is self-paced, no extensions will be granted after the start of your enrollment.

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