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An Introduction to Screenwriting

This online course explores the key concepts and fundamental principles involved in the process of screenwriting.

249,613 enrolled on this course

An Introduction to Screenwriting
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    Learn at your own paceHow it works
  • Unlimited

    $15.83/monthLearn more

Screenplays form the starting point for most dramatic films, the essential work from which all other filmmaking flows. All of the tender romance, terrifying action and memorable lines begin at the screenwriter’s desk. This free online course will introduce you to the basic elements and key concepts behind a professional screenplay.

The University of East Anglia’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing have built this course with instructors and recent alumni from their famed course in Creative Writing.

Where could this course take me?

The course is a must for anyone new to scriptwriting and for more experienced writers who wish to raise their scriptwriting to a professional level. It will establish a common vocabulary for approaching the screenplay and form the basis for upcoming courses in dramatic adaptation, the crime screenplay, and other genres and skills.

What and how will I learn?

You’ll learn from a mixture of basic theory, script analysis and practical exercises. We will explore key principles as they’re expressed in great films, then immediately apply these concepts. Videos, articles and discussion steps will offer you the opportunity to learn and engage with other learners on key concepts and ideas.

By the end of the course, you will understand the key concepts necessary to write an effective screenplay and be fluent in the language used to discuss the form.

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What topics will you cover?

  • Basic characteristics of screen story
  • Development of a basic storyline
  • Story structures including The Three Act Structure and alternate story structures
  • Characters and developing character outlines
  • The construction of scenes including the role of dialogue and character voice
  • The workflow for writing a first draft of feature film screenplay
  • The process for screenplay formatting
  • Writing – and finishing – a first draft

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore key issues in the practice of creating screenplays
  • Explain the basic principles of the screenwriting process
  • Identify the essentials of the screenplay format
  • Discuss the construction of a professional script
  • Design a story 'pitch'

Who is the course for?

There are no formal requirements for this course, just an interest in screenwriting.

What do people say about this course?

"This was such an insightful course that taught me so much about something I have given a lot of thought about. I really appreciate the lengths you have all gone to teach us the most important things about being a script-writer. Thank you all so much."

"A clear, concise and beautifully structured course. The video content is informative and lively, and the screenwriters are refreshingly down to earth in the way they talk about their processes. I am going to write a beat sheet, plough through a first draft without spending hours polishing each scene and I'm going to use some of the resources the course suggests. Thanks very much."

Who will you learn with?

Screenwriter Michael Lengsfield teaches scriptwriting at the University of East Anglia, where he specializes in the theory and practice of dramatic adaptation. @Film_Adaptation

Who developed the course?

UEA (University of East Anglia)

The University of East Anglia is an internationally renowned university providing top quality academic, social and cultural facilities to over 15,000 students from over 100 countries around the globe.

Endorsers and supporters

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Unlimited

$15.83/month

Billed at $189.99 for a year

Endless possibilities!

  • Access to this course
  • Access to ALL eligible short courses with additional benefits, for a year
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Upgrade this course

$64

Unlock your expertise

  • All of the above* for this course only, plus a printed certificate when you’re eligible

*Excludes access to all eligible short courses with additional benefits for a year

Basic access

Free

Try before you buy

  • Limited access to course content for 4 weeks

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Sale price available until 6 December 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Sale price available until 6 December 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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