Instructor: Maryann Miller
Maximum Enrollment: 10
Class Term: 09/27/2021 - 11/08/2021
SCN Member: $200.00
Class synopsisThis is a six-week class that introduces writers to the basic elements of writing a screenplay and how those elements enhance novel writing. Participants will learn how to quickly define and introduce characters, how to handle exposition, and how to write effective dialogue. They will also learn screenplay structure and format.
From FADE IN to FADE OUT, participants will learn the details of the format of writing a screenplay, as well as the story structure, whether adapting from a novel or starting with a new idea. Each week, participants will receive a written instruction sheet on that week's topic, with appropriate examples, explanations and an assignment.
Mastering the basics of script writing., Creating great characters., Using scriptwriting techniques to enhance the craft of writing novels.
Class communication methodInstructional materials will be sent via e-mail and students can communicate with me using e-mail.
Week One: Introduction of some of the elements of scriptwriting in broad terms. Develop ideas and concept. Importance of learning to write a logline, which defines the concept. That also helps novel writers in creating the elevator pitch for their stories. Students will be expected to write a logline or elevator pitch for their story idea.
Week Two: Creating and defining characters. How to make them real. How to make them memorable. How to write dialogue that is real and interesting. Students will be asked to write a short scene using action and dialogue to show characterization. Those scenes can be shared with the group for discussion.
Week Three: Working with visuals. The importance of seeing, really seeing. Can a story be told on film without dialogue? Students will be encouraged to watch the film, Benji, to see how that is done. Then asked to write a scene without dialogue. Those scenes can be shared with the group on a voluntary basis and/or sent to the instructor alone for feedback.
Week Four: Screenplay structure: acts, beats and plot points. A handout will include a breakdown of the iconic film “African Queen” into beats and plot points. Students can evaluate the material then comment on their understanding of it in group.
Week Five: Script formatting. Handout will have a sample of a scene from a screenplay and participants can try their hand at writing a scene using that format. They can send that scene for comment and evaluation to the instructor only, or to the group.
Week Six: Editing the screenplay and what that teaches about editing a novel or short story. Cutting unnecessary dialogue. Tightening narrative. Improve pacing. Participants will get examples of that type of editing and will be asked to edit a few pages of a WIP, using those techniques. The before and after can be submitted for class discussion.
Class time commitmentThree to four hours per week for participants.
A diverse writer of columns, feature stories, short fiction, novels, screenplays and stage plays, Maryann Miller has won numerous awards including being a semi-finalist at the Sundance Institute for her screenplay, “A Question of Honor.” More recently she placed in the top 15 percent of entries in the Chesterfield Screenwriting Fellowship with the adaptation of her mystery, “Open Season.”
In association with Stephen Marro Productions in New York, Miller does script editing and doctoring and has co-authored three screenplays; “Holding Point,” “Canned Goods,” and “It Doesn’t Take a Hero.” She was the script doctor for the script “Broadway’s Finest,” a film that debuted in 2012.
Miller has been associated with high school drama departments as a production assistant and advisor for stage productions and student films. She was the theatre director for The Winnsboro Center for the Arts for fifteen years, where she developed summer drama camps for children, as well as directing adults and young people in plays. It was there that her stage play “There Is a Time” was produced.