This course is designed for students with strong writing skills who have an interest in writing plays and/or screenplays, but little formal experience. The course introduces basic principles of dramatic writing and provides a foundation for advanced playwrighting and screenwriting courses. Using both plays and screenplays as study texts, we elucidate the elements of dramatic writing and consider how those elements work differently in different mediums. Plays and screenplays are similar but not the same—both genres create narrative using character and dialogue, but plays lean more heavily on the inner life and voice of characters, while screenplays unfold in the external world, building stories with images and action. Weekly exercises guide students through the process of developing different kinds of scripts—assessing potential story ideas, doing pre-draft character and backstory exploration, finding structure, and writing scenes. By the end of the semester, students have completed a short outline and the first twenty pages of a play or screenplay, which are workshopped in class. For complete and current details about this Harvard Extension course, see the description in the DCE Course Search.
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