Online Screenwriting Courses

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In this four-week course, an established executive producer/showrunner will give you an inside look at the world of dramatic, episodic television. You will explore—and practice—the actual process involved in successfully writing a spec episodic script that will open doors across Hollywood.

When you enroll in this course, you will learn how to analyze a TV show and develop “franchise”-friendly story ideas for a one-hour drama. Then you’ll build upon those skills to develop and write a story under the direction of the course’s instructor, who will be acting as showrunner. After incorporating his notes, you will be sent off to write your outline—or beat sheet—which is a breakdown of entire episode, beat by beat. You’ll receive feedback from your instructor and incorporate the suggestions into your outline leaving you at the end of the course ready to write an episodic script for a drama…the first step in getting a job on a TV series!

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to write an episodic script that is exactly like the series you’re writing for yet is also uniquely, unmistakably you
  • How to deal with restrictions—the franchise, the four-act structure, the budget, the shooting schedule—and create something new, fresh, and different
  • How to take a one-paragraph story idea and spin it into one-pager, or sales pitch
  • How to plot, or “crack a story”
  • How to use your beat sheet to write your spec script

Who Should Take This Course:

  • For writers who are passionate about television writing, are new to the TV industry, or are looking to launch a career as a TV writer.
  • Provides students with detailed information about how to write an episode for a TV series, including how to use the four-act structure to tell a story, the elements of a story, and how to create a beat sheet.
  • Gain the skills and know-how you need to write your first spec script–in just four weeks!
Session One: Learning How To Tell a TV Story
  • What is a TV series?
  • How to identify the “franchise”
  • What is a TV story?
  • The four-act structure and servicing the franchise

Session Two: TV Story Basics

  • Developing your premise
  • The importance of conflict
  • Plotting your story
  • Creating the one-pager – how to use it as a sales pitch

Session Three: Writing the Rough Beat Sheet

  • Breaking the story – figuring out which scenes will make up the episode
  • Examining examples of successful beat sheets

Session Four: Rewriting and Refining the Outline & Going to Script

  • Writing the beat sheet – what to include and how to get started
  • Receiving detailed feedback on your beat sheet

William Rabkin

William Rabkin, author of WRITING THE PILOT and co-author of best-selling book SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING, is a veteran showrunner whose executive producing credits include “Missing,” “Diagnosis Murder,” and “Martial Law.” He has most recently written for A&E’s new hit show The Glades. His writing and/or producing credits also include “Monk,” “Psych,” “SeaQuest,” “Spenser: For Hire,” “Hunter,” “Baywatch,” “Sliders,” “The Cosby Mysteries,” and “Nero Wolfe,” to name a few. In addition, Rabkin has directed episodes of “Diagnosis Murder” and several short films. He has led writing seminars in Madrid and Stockholm, consulted for broadcasters in Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands, and served as an adjunct professor of screenwriting at Stephens College. He is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of creative writing in the University of California, Riverside’s MFA Program, Palm Desert Graduate Center, and also teaches television writing at the UCLA Extension. He is the author of five original novels based on the characters from the show Psych and published by NAL: “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Read,” “Mind Over Magic,” “The Call of the Mild,” “A Fatal Frame of Mind,” and “Mind-Altering Murder.” He is also the co-creator and co-editor of The Dead Man, a monthly series of action horror novels publlished by Amazon’s 47North imprint.

Courses this instructor teaches

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