It’s as Easy as I, II, III…and IV

Those of you who have perused the fall Extension catalog or who have scrolled through the fall Writers’ Program courses on the UCLA Extension website, have no doubt noticed a change in the introductory screenwriting sequence formerly known as Screenwriting I, II, and III. The sequence is now made up of four courses instead of three and is now known as Writing the First Screenplay I, II, III, and IV.

The decision to revamp and expand the beginning series stemmed from suggestions by students and instructors who found it challenging to go from 50 pages to “The End” in Screenwriting III. The new expanded sequence enables you to craft your project at a more realistic pace, allowing you to carefully build upon your work and create a more fully-developed finished product.

Below is a breakdown of what you can expect to accomplish in each of the four courses of this new and improved series:

Writing the First Screenplay I

The ability to write an effective outline is a critical skill for the professional screenwriter, and serves as the basis for most pitches. In this course, you learn how to write effective, compelling scenes and you create a 4-5 page outline which clearly delineates your script’s beginning, middle, and end.

Writing the First Screenplay II

Armed with a workable outline, you flesh it out into either a beat sheet or treatment (at the instructor’s discretion) and begin writing your screenplay. Personalized feedback along with mini-lectures on key craft points–including character development, story structure, and conflict–help you to meet the course goal of writing Act I.

Writing the First Screenplay III: 12 Weeks

The only 12-week course in the series, Writing the First Screenplay III focuses on what many regard as the single greatest challenge facing screenwriters: writing the second act. As you engage in writing these crucial 60 pages, you refine your story outline; flesh out main and secondary characters; continue to develop the art of the scene as it pertains to type, choice, structure, and placement; and begin to discover each character’s unique voice. You also learn the habits you need to sustain the work of writing a screenplay.

Writing the First Screenplay IV

In the process of writing Act III, you hone in on structuring conversations; explore how to maximize your story’s visual implications; deepen scene writing skills; assemble scenes in order to form powerful sequences; ensure that your script’s central conflict is resolved; and work on theme and imagery. Also covered are revision techniques and the business aspects of feature film writing. The goal is to complete the writing of your first feature film script.

There are more ways than ever to take a course in this sequence. Our online offerings begin on page 150 of the fall catalog and our onsite courses – daytime or evening, on the Westwood campus or our downtown satellite – begin on page 152.

All of us here at the Writers’ Program are excited about the changes and are confident that they will make it easier for you to craft the best possible draft of your screenplay.

If you have questions, or if you’re unsure about where you fit into the new expanded sequence, call or write:

Chae Ko

Chae Ko is the Program Representative for onsite and online screenwriting courses.

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