Screenwriting: The Story Studio (LIT2509.01)

Manuel Gonzales

A good movie begins with a good script. A good script begins with a good story. In this class, we will explore the basics of structure and format for a feature-length screenplay, but the majority of the course we will be focused on storytelling, the development and polishing of good, strong stories. We will ask what goes into a good story, and how do you take those elements and, alchemically, turn them into good scenes for a script. Students will write treatments and scenes for their own original feature film ideas, and in the process will learn the formal constraints of a screenplay, formatting, scene development, and how to write effective and compelling dialogue. Most of the semester will focus on reading and discussing screenplays but the class will screen a select number of films over the course of the semester in order to see how moments on the page translate to the screen. The course will require extensive collaborative and small-group work, reading scripts, in-class and out-of-class writing exercises, and the submission, by the end of term, of a partial or full feature-length screenplay.


Learning Outcomes:
Over the course of the term, students will develop

*An understanding and proficiency with screenwriting forms and structures, including the treatment, the scene, and the three-act structure, as well as those formal structures that grow out from or push back against the three-act structure.

*A proficiency creating realistic characters through visual details, physicality and gesture, and dialogue.

*A deeper understanding of basic elements of visual storytelling and how to manipulate almost any narrative into a visual story.

*An understanding of plot-development through causality and the ways in which screenplays do or do not adhere to plot.

*An understanding of how the written document of a screenplay provides a blueprint for a finished movie, the gaps between what is visualized and can be achieved on the page versus what can be achieved behind a camera, saddled with a budget, and reconciling with the input and needs and interpretations of other artists.



Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
T/F 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 42
Course Frequency: Once a year

Categories: Fully In-Person , All courses , Literature
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