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Online Class: Screenwriting 101

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Course Description

This is a basic, nuts-and-bolts course, for people who wish to write screenplays, but don't know much about it. Because screenwriting is demanding both technically and in the market for jobs and sales, 'Getting Into The Screenwriting Game to Win' attempts to go through each essential aspect needed for a beginner to get started, stick with it, and yes, make a sale or get a job.

In this course you will learn basic rules and skills. There's no excuse for a poorly formatted script, you're really only wasting your time. Traditional three-act structure for film-stores can be debated endlessly, but it works, it's very functional, it's fairly easy to understand, and you can't neglect at least a passing familiarity with this mode of expression for your stories. Get in touch with the industry, the markets, what's selling, where to find opportunities, how to deal with people. Approach your work standards and work environment seriously, because you'll be spending a lot of time there. If you get a deal, don't get screwed for careless anticipation of the money involved, and if you get screwed, don't be surprised. And remember that if you can't make it to the top and win an Oscar for some super-big film you wrote, it's still a wonderful way to make a buck at your computer doing smaller gigs and 'for-hire' work.

Screenwriting is also therapy. It's good for you, and your imagination and thoughts will develop wonderfully as you work through each visualization---but be sensitive to the audience, don't exploit our world with endless images of violence and gore (at least not without a reason), and don't hop in bed with unethical projects or money-sources just because you can. It's a wild world for films and film-makers---stay on the bright side and keep it safe and legal.

The hope is that for the beginner, this course presents a working knowledge of what is needed to get started writing screenplays in a realistic and informed way. Beyond this, you're now free to roam where no screenwriter has gone before---and what a wonder it is to wonder.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Instructor Feedback
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

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Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating: (1238 votes)
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Lesson 1: Why Get Into Screenwriting and What Are My Chances of Success?

This lesson describes the different kinds of screenwriting opportunities, types of jobs, and motivation factors. 45 Total Points
  • Review Article: Introduction to Screenwriting
  • Take Poll: Screenwriting
  • Complete Assignment: Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 1 Review

Lesson 2: A Brief History of the Screenplay

This lesson explains how screenplays have evolved. 40 Total Points
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 2 Review

Lesson 3: Markets, Current Trends, and Where Beginners Fit In

This lesson gives basic guidelines for beginner screenwriters. 40 Total Points
  • Review Article: Screenwriting Resources
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 3 Review

Lesson 4: Getting Started--Mastering Screenplay Format

This lesson describes how to format a feature film script. 39 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Dialogue Writing Tips; ScriptFrenzy
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 4 Review

Lesson 5: Story Types, Genre, and Targeting Your Script to Sell

This lesson deals with the different types of scripts that film producers are looking for. 40 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Movie Genres Examples; Marketing a Screenplay
  • Take Poll: Genre
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 5 Review

Lesson 6: Mastering Plot, Story, and Basic Three Act Structure

This lesson describes the Three Act Structure and the plot of the story. 40 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Three Act Structure Lecture; Poetics
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 6 Review

Lesson 7: Mastering Characters and Character Development

This lesson describes how to take your experiences in life and develop characters for your scripts. 39 Total Points
  • Review Article: Creating Characters
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 7 Review

Lesson 8: Writing Comedy

This lesson describes how to effectively write comedy. 39 Total Points
  • Review Article: The Seven Laws of Comedy Writing
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 8 Review

Lesson 9: How High is High Concept?

This lesson deals with the issue of writing an original piece versus a storyline that has been done before. 40 Total Points
  • Review Article: High Concept
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 9 Review

Lesson 10: Writing Action Stories

This lesson describes how to write action stories using super heroes, great chases, and tension building scenes. 40 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Action Fundamentals; The Villain
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 10 Review

Lesson 11: Writing Dialogue

This lesson gives some tips on writing good dialogue. 40 Total Points
  • Review Article: A Dummies Guide to Dialogue
  • Review Video: Writing Dialogue
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 11 Review

Lesson 12: Breaking Down the Barriers

This lesson deals with how to get film credits and sell your scripts. 40 Total Points
  • Review Article: Credit Policy
  • Take Poll: Credits
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 12 Review

Lesson 13: Work Environment and Professional Standards

The lesson addresses the idea that where you work effects how you work. 40 Total Points
  • Review Article: Writers Guild of America
  • Take Poll: Work Space
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 13 Review

Lesson 14: Submissions, Queries, and Loglines.

This lesson offers some pointers on how to get your material noticed. 39 Total Points
  • Review Article: Query Letters
  • Take Poll: Queries
  • Complete: Lesson 14 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 14 Review

Lesson 15: Getting Representation

This lesson deals with writer's resources, for-hire jobs, and getting representation. 40 Total Points
  • Complete: Lesson 15 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 15 Review

Lesson 16: Welcome to Hollywood

This lesson deals with problems you don't want to encounter in Hollywood. 40 Total Points
  • Review 2 Articles: Hollywood Insider; Things They Don't Tell You in Film School
  • Complete: Lesson 16 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 16 Review

Lesson 17: Documentaries, Video Scripts and Other Types

This lesson offers some of the choices available for screenwriters. 40 Total Points
  • Review Article: Documentary Screenwriting
  • Take Poll: Let us know what you think of this course
  • Take Survey: Course Comments
  • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Complete: Lesson 17 Assignment
  • Complete Exam: Lesson 17 Review
Total Course Points

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Screenwriting 101
Course Number: 7550280
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Course Type: How To
CEU Value: 1.5 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Melissa Behrend
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
Course Fee: $65.00 (no CEU Certification) || with CEU Certification: $90.00

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Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Identify why choose screenwriting as a career and estimate the chances of success.
  • Describe the history and evolution of the screenplay.
  • Describe markets, current trends, and where beginners fit in.
  • Know mastering screenplay format.
  • Describe story types, genre, and targeting your script to sell.
  • Describe mastering plot, story, and basic three act structure.
  • Describe mastering characters and character development.
  • Describe writing comedy.
  • Describe writing action stories.
  • Describe writing dialogue.
  • Define work environment and professional standards.
  • Know getting representation, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Student Testimonials

  • "I loved the course and the instructor." -- Lanna L.
  • "Great, thank you, I'm so glad I took this course." -- Jacinta L.
  • "This course was extremely helpful." -- Malinda M.

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