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Introduction to Screenwriting
Course Length: 1 Semester
Has Textbook: Yes
The screenplay is the starting point for every film, whether it is a five-minute short or a full-length motion picture. The writing of scripts is a craft that takes time and dedication to master at the professional level, but the tools of both the novice and of the accomplished screenwriter are the same. In this course, students will acquire, step by step, each of those tools, the necessary skills, to create an original screenplay. This course presents a complete guide to the fundamental elements essential in every motion picture screenplay. Students will learn cinematic storytelling basics and how they are implemented in the creation of a screenplay, or a "movie blueprint." Students will examine all screenplay components, from scene creation to dialogue, to narrative flow across the length of a film. This course also prepares students to create original screenplays through full examination of all script elements and also through scriptwriting exercises and tests. The textbook provides a foundation for all the required scriptwriting basics and gives in-depth analyses of how script elements are employed in seven selected movie classics, including E.T. and Hamlet.
It is recommended that students complete English 11 or equivalent course work and possess a solid understanding of composition and outlining a writing assignment before enrolling in this course. 

Course Objectives

Unit 1: Essential Content and Skills

  • Identify the process for formatting movie script pages.
  • Write a brief movie scene and “logline.”
  • Identify the major elements found in a full-length screenplay.
  • Distinguish the differences between dramatic writing for the screen and the theater and original and sourced-material screenplays.
  • Create a one-paragraph plot summary, or outline, for an original screenplay. 
  • Read an excerpt of an online script based on source material.   
  • Identify the necessity of successful relationships between the screenwriter and other key persons in the development and production of a movie. 

Unit 2: Essential Content and Skills

  • Discuss the importance of a carefully planned storyline for a screenplay and the three-act division.
  • Identify the major elements found in a full-length screenplay.
  • Create a setting description for an original screenplay. 
  • Discuss a screenplay's protagonist, antagonist, and conflict.
  • Discuss the limitations of a screenplay — what is seen and what is said.
  • Create a character profile for an original screenplay.
  • Discover how the management of time in a screenplay is essential.

Unit 3: Essential Content and Skills

  • Identify the major elements found in a full-length screenplay.
  • Create a character profile for an original screenplay.
  • Define premise and understand its use and value in a screenplay.
  • Identify the value of main tension, culmination, and resolution in a screenplay.
  • Define and understand theme and exposition as they apply to screenplays.
  • Create a scene with dialogue for an original screenplay.
  • Identify the importance of characterization in a screenplay.

Unit 4: Essential Content and Skills

  • Examine dramatic irony in a screenplay.
  • Create a three-act plot summary for an original screenplay.
  • Identify the crucial importance of outlines in screenwriting.
  • Create an original scene for a screenplay he or she would like to write someday.
  • Identify the major elements found in a full-length screenplay.
  • Examine the importance of plausibility in a screenplay.
  • Recognize the function of dialogue in a screenplay.

Course Materials

  • The Tools of Screenwriting: A Writer's Guide to the Crafts and the Elements of a Screenplay (textbook)