Screenwriting I — Syllabus

Introduction to Screenwriting: The visual nature of movies. Screenplays as blueprints. Where to find ideas. Forming a premise. High and low concept. Hollywood vs. Indie. Genre. The usefulness of outlines.

Plot I: Finding a major dramatic question. The three-act structure. The difference between classic plots and subtle plots. Making a story map.

Character: Finding a strong protagonist. Handling other characters. Making characters dimensional through desire and contrasts. Creating character profiles. Showing characters through their actions.

Format/Description: How to format a screenplay. Writing effective screenplay description.

Scene: Scene defined. Length of scene. Tenets of a good scenes—importance, desire/conflict, structure, compression, visual storytelling. Sequences. Making a step outline.

Dialogue: Dialogue's illusion of reality. Compression. Characterization through dialogue. Subtext. Exposition. Stage directions. Voice over.

Subplot: The value of subplots. Romantic subplots. Other kinds of subplots for the protagonist. Non-protagonist subplots. Subplot structure. Finding subplots in your story.

Plot II: Creating an effective opening section. Techniques for sustaining Act II. Creating an effective climax. Flashbacks.

Tone/Theme: Developing tone through genre, world, and lightness/darkness. Consistency of tone. Theme defined. Types of theme. Weaving theme into a story.

Revision: Exploration of the various stages of revision.

The Business: Creating pitches. Studios, producers, and representation. How to get your pitch to players in the industry. Query letters. The life of a screenwriter.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.