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An Introduction to Screenwriting

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

211,829 enrolled on this course

An Introduction to Screenwriting
  • Duration2 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $59Find out 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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Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Cinematic story, form and structure

    • Introducing the course

      Welcome! Prof Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland, welcomes you to the course.

    • Cinematic story and form

      Anyone who’s been to the pictures will have a perfectly good notion of how screen stories operate! However, it's useful for us, as screenwriters, to review some basic characteristics.

    • Story structure

      We will now consider the idea of "story structure". It refers to the process of constructing the screenplay's plot: the order and timing of the events that take place in the film.

    • Reflections

      We'd love to hear about your reactions to the first week of the course.

  • Week 2

    Character, writing the scene and first draft

    • Introduction to Week 2

      Welcome back! It's Week 2, and we are going to consider character, scene, formatting and the sometimes elusive first draft.

    • Character

      How are cinematic characters constructed? We are creating roles to be performed, not finished characters. And can we find any broad themes that will help us in creating our own characters?

    • Creating the scene

      We will explore scene construction, and continue thinking about character with a look at the role of dialogue and character voice.

    • Writing your first draft

      We will look at a suggested workflow to get the first draft done and hear approaches and tips from our four educators.

    • Next steps

      Your next steps will very much depend on where you are on your screenwriting journey. Review some of our suggestions for taking your learning further and decide some actions that work for you.

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

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.

Alexandra Evans

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.

Mychaela S

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.

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