Fall 2018 Undergraduate English Courses: Creative Writing

351:304 - Screenwriting for Television

Fall 2018

*Prerequisite: 351:211 or 351:212  or permission of instructor.


Fall 2018
Course Section Instructor Day Period Location Index Campus
304 01 Pearlstein Th 2, 3 MU002 09862 CAC
304 02 Zonder M, Th 2 MU 302 20189 CAC


Section 01:
In this course, students will be introduced to the basics of professional TV writing. Through the analysis of Sitcoms, Hour Dramas, and Comedy Sketches, students will become familiar with all of the fundamentals of a strong teleplay. Group and individual exercises will lead each student to create an outline, a treatment and then a complete draft of a television show in whichever style they choose. Focus will be placed on all of the major dynamics of a strong dramatic structure. The group will explore topics such a: Finding Stories, Working with a Cast of Characters, Scene Structures, Dramatic Tension, Writing Dialogue, and Creating Satisfactory Resolutions. A range of classic and contemporary television programs will be studied including the works of Norman Lear, Susan Harris, MTM Productions, Stephen Bochco, Sid Caesar, Tina Fey, and Dave Chappelle.  

Section 02:
The fundamentals of scriptwriting with an emphasis on scriptwriting for TV. We will learn, among other things, what makes a character into the hero of the story. Who the antagonist is and why they are the most important character in the plotline. How and why the protagonist’s conflict of choice becomes the engine of the story. How to achieve a dramatic climax successfully and what the role of catharsis in the story is. 
In addition, we will explore together how writing for television has developed in the last 20 years, how the audience’s watching habits have changed and what we should learn from this as writers.
During the course, we will examine excerpts and episodes from the following serials: "The Sopranos", "Breaking Bad", "homicide: life on the street", "The Wire", "Game of Thrones", "Six Fit Under", "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", "The X- Files", "All in the Family", "True Detective", "Homeland", "Friends", "The bridge" and "Fauda"