The big picture: Building a screenplay

Assignment 1: Write an essay of any length to clarify your purpose–what do you want to do, say, and realize? What do you hope to do and learn in this course? Why are you taking the course?

Purpose and discussion

This essay is about you. Expressivity, flexibility and a willingness to change, and having open-minded response to new ideas and possibilities are the recommended best strategies at this point as you write about your work. Write clearly and help the reader to understand how and why you intend to move forward. Always recognize that change is a good thing that might happen.

Write your essay by freely associating in first person voice, prompted by some of these question(s): What kind of a screenplay do you want to write? Why are you passionate about your project? How do you anticipate your audience could experience your completed work? What do you aspire to accomplish as a creative screenplay writer on this project? How do you plan to move forward from this starting point?

How often should I write? Can I schedule my creative writing? How can I motivate myself to write?

Try to experience CREATIVE FLOW as you write. Seek intrinsic motivation. Do your best to build a routine that allows you to keep going forward productively. This class is intended to help you at early and important points in the screenplay writing journey. The aim of this course is to help you work toward a plan of action that leads to intrinsic motivation, productivity and creativity in your writing.

Assignment 2: Describe your story in a few paragraphs (aim for about one page).

In your essay, clarify your understanding through writing about your ideas, connections, and vision. In assignment 2 I recommend that you identify the research and knowledge that might be relevant to your story, but it is also important that you write freely.

How long should my description be?

Have no concern about page length at this point–don’t worry about writing too much, but do aim to write plentifully–then edit those pages and paragraphs to one page. Continue to polish your project description for future use.

How can I write about my project in a general way? Research, development, purpose

As you write about your project I suggest you consider the model of the Four Domains. This model could be useful as you generally locate and describe your project.

It is important that you build knowledge and understanding by asking important questions: What is the intended audience? What is the anticipated market for your work? Is your story educational, commercial, entertainment, artistic, social development media, or something else? What are the differences and similarities in the various Domains? How do each 0f the Four Domains interact, intersect, or overlap in your project? For example, what does “entertainment” mean to you? Does entertainment infer mere diversion or folly, or something more? Think deeply and express your vision.

I already have a 3-act story structure with characters developed, plus I have been writing scenes, how do I move forward?

Perhaps you have you already clarified a beginning, middle, and ending of your story, and you know who are your main characters and what do they individually want or need? Through readings and rewrites is conflict palpable in each scene? If you have reached this advanced point, one way to move forward is by pitching your project and polishing your short description, rewriting scenes, clarifying the story structure, and continuing to make outlines of each Act (assignment 3). Whether you are a beginner or a master, scene-writing is a constant effort in addition to the descriptive writing.

Printing of the one paragraph description is recommended, but optional. Discussion in class.

What if I don’t know the whole story yet?

If you don’t know your whole story yet, that’s OK and why you are here in this course–

1) I advise you to do a lot of introspective writing (you might even try proprioceptive writing!) to flesh out your main story, situations, and ideas for scenes.

2) continue your skills-building by writing two-person scenes with dialogue and conflict (assignment 4-5-6)

Assignment 3: Create lists, timelines. and/0r outlines about your characters and story. Whether you are writing a dramatic or a documentary screenplay it is always beneficial to create lists, timelines, and outlines of potential characters/interviews, basic storylines, areas of interaction, potential conflict and emotional range. Lists and outlines are useful or your reference. Print and bring to class if you wish, but this is optional.