Introduction to Screenwriting: The Basics of the Craft
3.6 (8 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
79 students enrolled
Wishlisted Wishlist

Please confirm that you want to add Introduction to Screenwriting: The Basics of the Craft to your Wishlist.

Add to Wishlist

Introduction to Screenwriting: The Basics of the Craft

Learn all the elements you need to create a compelling, professional-looking screenplay.
3.6 (8 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
79 students enrolled
Created by Nevada McPherson
Last updated 1/2017
Current price: $10 Original price: $35 Discount: 71% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 41 mins on-demand video
  • 14 Articles
  • 3 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Assignments
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Formulate a logline and pitch for a screenplay
  • Create compelling characters
  • Write effective dialogue
  • Write and edit scenes that propel the story forward
  • Map out story using sound structure
  • Understand and apply the elements of industry standard screenplay format
View Curriculum
  • Students will not need any prior knowledge of screenwriting; however, basic writing and grammar skills are necessary.
  • Students may opt to purchase screenwriting software in the future, but during and after the course they can hone their formatting skills manually using any word-processing program, or on free screenwriting software such as Celtx.

This course will give you the basic tools you need to write a screenplay.

  • You'll get a description of the elements of screenwriting and some resources and links to help you on your journey.
  • This course should take about four hours to complete through reading the text, watching the videos and filling out the worksheets provided.
  • You'll also want to explore the links provided to gain a greater understanding of those elements of screenwriting.

If you have any questions or need help, feel free to contact me!

I want this to become a screenwriters' community where we can:

  • meet up in Google hang-outs,
  • have sessions using Livestream to address questions and concerns you might have, and to connect with each other!

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.

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is for students who have no experience writing screenplays. We'll start from the very beginning.
  • This course would also be useful for students who already have a short story or work in another genre that they would like to adapt into a screenplay.
  • This course is not for advanced screenwriting students, or those who want to workshop completed screenplays.
Compare to Other Screenwriting Courses
Curriculum For This Course
28 Lectures
Introduction to the Course
2 Lectures 03:57

A look at the basic elements of screenwriting, including:

- Loglines and Pitches

- How to create and develop characters

- Dialogue

- Scenes

- Screenplay Structure

- Screenplay Format

- How to maintain momentum as you write your screenplay

- Submitting your screenplay to contests, agents and producers

What to expect

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.

Preview 02:28

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>

5 questions
Loglines and Pitches
4 Lectures 15:38

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.

From Idea to Logline

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!

From Logline to Pitch

Tips on pitching your story, and why you should consider entering pitch contests.

Some Advice on Pitching

An exercise to test your logline and pitch.

Logline and Pitch Exercise

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..

Loglines and Pitches
8 questions
Characters in Action
3 Lectures 07:26

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.

Who is Your Character?

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.

Action IS Character

Gain insight into what makes a character interesting to you and how you can improve your characters.

Who are your favorite characters and why?

Things you need to know as you create characters to populate your screenplay.

Your Characters
4 questions
Dialogue: Less is More
3 Lectures 06:44

Your characters should be distinctive so make their dialogue that way as well. Here are some tips on how to improve your dialogue.

Preview 01:37

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.

Beyond Everyday Talk

A bit more about subtext in dialogue.


Make your dialogue more meaningful.<br>

3 questions
Writing Effective Scenes
3 Lectures 07:23
Get in Late, Get out Early

More on why you should "Get in Late, Get out Early"

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.

Scenes and the Writing Process

Some thing to remember about how to write good scenes.

3 questions
The Invisible Magic of Screenplay Structure
4 Lectures 11:58

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.

The Basic Three Act Structure

Why knowledge of the three act structure is essential and how to make that second act more manageable!

The Basic Three Act Structure examined

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!

The Hero's Journey
45 pages

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.

Ongoing Practice for Learning Screenplay Structure

The map of your story.

5 questions
Screenplay Format
2 Lectures 06:46

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 does it have to look like that?

Why you don't need to call the shots for your story-teller voice to shine.

Things to watch out for as you type your screenplay into format!

Proper format makes your screenplay look professional.<br>

Screenplay Format
4 questions
The Road Ahead
2 Lectures 04:10

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.

Tips to stay on track

Maintain momentum by writing every day, watching movies, and reading screenplays!

Keep learning as you go

Resources and Writing Habits<br>

As You Move Forward
2 questions
It's Finished. Now What?
3 Lectures 05:03

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.

The wide world of Screenwriting competitions and film festivals

A bit more about contests and why film festivals are also great for screenwriters!

Choosing contests and why festivals are great for fun & learning!

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.

Submitting to Agents and Producers

Things to remember about contests and submissions.

Contests and Queries
6 questions
That's a Wrap!
2 Lectures 01:35

We'll go briefly back over what we've covered.

Preview 00:45

A final quiz. You'll recognize these from the beginning. Have you learned more about any of these concepts?

Post test
5 questions

Happy Writing and keep in touch!
About the Instructor
Nevada McPherson
3.6 Average rating
8 Reviews
79 Students
1 Course

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!