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CMS 470 A: Advanced Screenwriting

Meeting Time: 
MW 10:30am - 12:20pm
MGH 287

Syllabus Description:

Course Description:

Our goal in Advanced Screenwriting is to mimic a real life working writer’s room and create a screenwriting workshop.  What that means is that each of you will not only write and work on your own screenplays, but also be responsible for providing feedback and collaboration on the work of your other writers in the room.  We will write collaborative screenplays as well as individual screenplays.

Besides the goal of creating a writer’s room, the other goal of the class is to prepare you for more independent writing and self-critique.  

You will develop several original short screenplays from prose narrative story to film treatment to screenplay. 

Each of these phases of screenwriting will involve four major areas of development: Story and Structure, Scene Sequence Approach to Screenwriting, Writing Realistic Dialogue, and, yes, Story and Structure Again.

Required Texts:

Title:     Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach
Author:    Gulino, Paul        ISBN:      978-0-8264-1568-4 
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic  Edition:                     
PubYr:     2013               


  • Nothing is graded during the quarter, but many of the assignments have a rubric specific to that assignment where comments concerning your work will be recorded.
  • Advanced screenwriting requires that you write and that you be present in class to help others with their writing and understanding of screenwriting, therefore a great deal of your grade is based on participation: in class, in your small writing groups, meeting deadlines.

The grading percentages are:

60% on participation (presentations, group writing projects, peer critique workshop, in-class discussion)

30% on final screenplay

10% on artistic excellence of your final screenplay

Everyone begins with a 4.0 grade. 

The following are areas in which might cause you to lose grade points:

  • Not present for your group presentation: -.3
  • Not present for peer critique workshop of screenplays at the end of the quarter: .1/class
  • Missing a deadline or assignment is late by more than 24 hours: -.2/assignment
  • Not contributing to collaborative writing assignments, peer review, and/or missing internal group deadlines: -2.
  • Typographical errors in your final screenplay: -.1 per typo

It is possible to makeup these deficits or have them cancelled during the quarter if you are sick or have some other conflict.  You may also do selected extra credit assignments, such as providing written feedback and/or helping other students with their writing by reading their work, helping with a table reading, etc.

Think of Advanced Screenwriting as a writers' room and that you have a job as a writer where you are being paid to write a screenplay in collaboration with other writers who depend on you to be at work, to meet deadlines, to write what is assigned to you. 

There are no exams during the quarter.  Instead there are two "Pitch Days" during the quarter and a screenplay critique workshop at the end of the quarter (see Course Summary).






Catalog Description: 
Students hone their understanding of screenwriting techniques; enhance their editing/critiquing skills; and develop their own screenplays, synopses; and treatments of various genres, including but not limited to silent, poetic, dramatic, and news-based scripts.
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:13pm