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  • Workshop
  • Online: Zoom
  • Introductory
  • 9 Weeks

Introduction to Screenwriting

No Longer Enrolling

  • $480.00 Non-Member
  • $455.00 Member

Class Description

Writing a great screenplay begins with the first ten pages. Readers for agents and producers focus exclusively on the opening scenes when looking for a project to represent and develop – many say they stop reading after the first five pages. Understanding the overall structure and specific components of an effective beginning to a screenplay is the first step in becoming a successful screenwriter. In this ten-week class, writers will explore basic screenplay structure, format and techniques. Through weekly lectures and writing assignments, students will learn how to create strong characters, introduce the protagonist’s goal, set the tone for the film, and establish the dramatic situation, all in the first ten pages.

We will begin with an overview of traditional, three-act narrative structure and character arcs, focusing on the significance of the first act, and then explore different genres and story types. We will view and discuss the first ten minutes of several films, and compare the screen versions with the first ten pages of the screenplays, as a means of understanding structure. Students will begin by developing characters and then write scenes that set up the main character in his or her everyday world. The scenes will be constructed to lead up to an inciting incident that sets the story in motion, and hooks the reader into wanting to know what happens next. Students will learn techniques for creating well-rounded, complex characters, writing realistic and effective dialogue, using visual imagery to convey action, and integrating exposition and character back-story into a screenplay without resorting to flashbacks and on-the-nose dialogue. Students will share scenes from in-class and take-home assignments in workshop-style readings weekly and receive informal, constructive feedback from peers and the instructor.

The goal of the ten-week class is to write the first ten pages of a feature-length screenplay with at least one revision. For the final submission of the revised first ten pages of each student’s screenplay, the instructor will provide written feedback and suggestions for further development. This course is designed for beginning screenwriters and experienced writers in other genres who seek an introduction to screenwriting format and structure, character development and dialogue. Students should come to the first class with an idea for a screenplay story to develop over the course of the class.

Scholarships Format/Location

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. Please visit the Resources tab to access the video-conference link.

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!