This course will give you the basic tools you need to write a screenplay.
If you have any questions or need help, feel free to contact me!
I want this to become a screenwriters' community where we can:
Take this course if you have an idea for a screenplay, or if you need help refining you idea and giving it structure so that you can share it with others and turn it into an actual screenplay that you can submit to agents and producers, and to contests.
A look at the basic elements of screenwriting, including:
- Loglines and Pitches
- How to create and develop characters
- Screenplay Structure
- Screenplay Format
- How to maintain momentum as you write your screenplay
- Submitting your screenplay to contests, agents and producers
Understand that in this course we are starting from the very beginning. Screenwriting is different from other types of writing, but once you learn the different elements of it you can hone your craft and get better and better! I'll explain why I came to enjoy working with screenplay format and telling stories as a screenwriter.
A diagnostic quiz to see if you're familiar with these concepts. If not, no worries, that's what you're here to learn!<br>
How to firm up your story idea and distill it into a one-to-two sentence logline or very short summary that encapsulates your idea.
Expand your logline into a short paragraph-length summary, and you have a "pitch" that gives the broad contours of your story including who your main character is, his/her main conflict, and some idea how the story might be resolved. If someone asks "What's your story about?," you'll be ready to answer in a succinct and compelling way!
Tips on pitching your story, and why you should consider entering pitch contests.
An exercise to test your logline and pitch.
What is the purpose of a logline and a pitch and what are some of their key elements? This will help you remember some of the details as you formulate you own logline and pitch for your screenplay..
Things to consider as you create your characters. What are they all about? What's their favorite color/song/book/TV show? How will you convey this onscreen? Even if all this won't show up onscreen you should know these things anyway. In this section we'll examine why.
Actions your characters take that move the story forward will show the audience just what it needs to know. In this section we'll discuss why they'll thank you for showing--not telling.
Gain insight into what makes a character interesting to you and how you can improve your characters.
Things you need to know as you create characters to populate your screenplay.
Your characters should be distinctive so make their dialogue that way as well. Here are some tips on how to improve your dialogue.
In order to write realistic movie dialogue just listen to how people talk in everyday life and make it sound like that that, right? Yes and no. You want it to sound "real," but as the writer you need to provide subtext: that magical ingredient that will add meaning and depth to your story.
A bit more about subtext in dialogue.
Make your dialogue more meaningful.<br>
Realize that editing is an integral part of the writing process. As you get a feel for your characters and the flow of your story, you'll learn to trim the excess so that your scenes reveal only what is needed to move the story forward.
Some thing to remember about how to write good scenes.
Every story needs a beginning, middle and end. Your screenplay has to have effective structure to carry the audience from "Fade In" to "The End." This is most basic framework for screenplays.
Why knowledge of the three act structure is essential and how to make that second act more manageable!
Looking at structure in a bit more detail, and breaking things down into smaller steps, we'll discuss the Hero's Journey as a tried and tested way to take your main character from his/her ordinary world, through the extraordinary world of the hero's journey and back again. You may find out you know this structure better than you think!
Watching movies mindfully and with an eye on the clock can help you start to see the pattern of structure in various films. Try this and you'll learn how to improve the story structure in your own screenplay.
The map of your story.
We'll learn the elements of screenplay format discuss why format is your friend. Even if you're using a screenplay formatting program now, or will in the future, you should know the nuts and bolts of formatting so you'll know what the format should look like for any situation, including flashbacks, daydreams, and montage.
In the Resources section here you'll find the opening pages of my screenplay, PIANO LESSONS, as an example of screenplay format. Feel free to contact me with any formatting questions!
Why you don't need to call the shots for your story-teller voice to shine.
Proper format makes your screenplay look professional.<br>
Now that you know the basics, you have all you need to get started and well on the road to completing your first screenplay. Here are some tips on how to maintain momentum.
Maintain momentum by writing every day, watching movies, and reading screenplays!
Resources and Writing Habits<br>
Entering contests can be a great way to get feedback on your screenplay, and to get "street cred" in the Industry. There are so many screenplay competitions; how do you decide which ones to enter? We'll talk about how to make informed decisions on where to spend your entry fee money.
A bit more about contests and why film festivals are also great for screenwriters!
The basics of query letters/ e-queries. We'll come full-circle back to the whole idea if log lines and pitches. They helped you gain clarity and focus to write your screenplay, and now you can use them as tools to get your script into the right hands.
Things to remember about contests and submissions.
I have an MFA from Louisiana State University in Creative Writing with a concentration in Screenwriting and a BA in English-Creative Writing. I taught screenwriting and Art & Craft of Film at Tulane University School of Continuing Studies and was an associate professor of English at Nunez Community College before returning to my home state of Georgia where I currently teach at Georgia Military College. I've written over a dozen award-winning feature-length screenplays, adapted two of them into graphic novels, Uptowners and Piano Lessons, and I'm currently working on my third, Queensgate. I wrote and directed an award-winning short film, Route of All Evil, founded the Pelican d'Or Short Film Festival and served as its director for ten years. I'm now in the process of expanding my creative arts business, Noisy Muse, and creating some new courses for Udemy!