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with James Napoli
The art and craft of writing for the screen is a skill that all authors would do well to have in their creative arsenals. On one level, prose fiction, memoir, non-fiction, all these forms have been, and will continue to be, sought out by the film industry as foundations for works in the visual storytelling realm. So, writers who bring with them a full understanding of the techniques—and very specific considerations—that go into bringing screen stories to life are adding a valuable component to their career qualifications.
Perhaps even more importantly, being able to offer screenplays among one’s catalogue of written works could add a new and potentially profitable set of skills to an author’s toolkit. Getting a handle on how those in movies and TV tell their stories will enrich and inspire the creative process in unexpected and energizing ways. Putting that knowledge into practice lets a writer generate a tangible art form that augments and amplifies their body of work.
This course is designed to guide you through the foundational elements of screenwriting, including structural, stylistic, and formatting archetypes that inform script creation, as you proceed toward a rough first draft screenplay or television pilot as the culmination of our coursework.
We will delve into modern standards of story construction along with the ancient roots of the traditional three-act structure. These theory elements will always be combined with hands-on writing exercises (some assigned as homework, others taking shape “improv” style within class time), reading and analyzing several produced scripts, and peer critiquing of your fellow authors’ projects as they take shape during our journey. In addition to structure, we will go deeply into character and dialogue, the importance of research, and the distinct demands of forging evocative, economical descriptive passages in screenplays.