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Written by:
Martin Barrett
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Screenwriting Courses Online

6 Best Screenwriting Courses Online

You don’t need a degree to be a screenwriter, but writing a screenplay is more difficult than you would think.

Even though you can find numerous books on the subject, and you might know how to format them, it doesn’t change getting a lesson from someone more experienced.

There’s only so much you can pick up from reading scripts of famous films and shows online. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of screenwriting courses to help you become a better screenwriter.

These best screenwriting courses online will teach you about the basics, but you’ll also learn about different formats, including shorts, features, and TV shows.

If you want to learn about screenwriting, you’ll expect to work in different formats, so knowing more will help you more than it will hinder you.

As you delve further in, you may find yourself looking for something more in-depth than the introductory courses, and if so, we’ve included two MasterClasses.

These include lessons from Shonda Rhimes and Aaron Sorkin and will give you an insight into writing successful TV shows for Hollywood and Netflix. So, if you’re looking to succeed, keep reading to find the right course for you.

1. An Introduction to Screenwriting

Available on FutureLearn, An Introduction to Screenwriting is an online course offered by the University of East Anglia.

The course itself takes around two weeks to complete, and you’ll only need to study for three hours each week. When you’ve completed it, you’ll even get a digital certificate to show that you’ve completed it.

In An Introduction to Scriptwriting, beginners and more seasoned writers alike can return to the basic theory of screenwriting.

You’ll learn how to analyze scripts and take part in more practical exercises. You’ll learn from videos, articles, and discussions that allow you to learn and engage with other aspiring screenwriters.

By the end, you’ll better understand the key concepts you need to write an effective screenplay.

The topics you’ll have covered will include the basic characteristics of a screenplay and the development of a basic storyline. So, you’ll learn more about the three act structure and alternatives.

To write a good story, you need to have developed characters, so you’ll learn how to do an outline for them. Then, learn how to construct your scenes and how to incorporate both dialogue and your character’s voice.

Once you know this, you’ll learn about how scripts become films and how to format your screenplay successfully.

Once you’ve finished this course, you should even have the first draft of your story. If not, then you’ll be on your way to writing and finishing one.

Maybe you’ll even have a better idea of how you can pitch your screenplay to a producer too.

If you want to take part in this course, you have three options: you could have limited access to see if the course is right for you. This free option will give you two weeks to see if the course is right for you.

If you want to continue the course, you can buy access to the course for $54 to get access to it and learn at your own pace.

There is also a subscription option if there are other courses you want to learn about, which will cost $27.99 a month.

2. Beginner Screenwriting Made Easy

Udemy offers a course called Beginner Screenwriting Made Easy, which is taught by Word Dancer.

Having taught thousands of students, Beginner Screenwriting Made Easy will show you a way to make a script without going to film school.

In her course, she’ll teach you how to turn your idea into a screenplay and how you can format and structure it. You’ll find out screenwriters’ biggest mistakes and how you can avoid them.

During this course, you’ll learn how to think like a screenwriter and generate new ideas to write a successful screenplay.

Giving tips and tricks into the trade, you’ll find out the best ways you can maximize your chances of succeeding in Hollywood before writing your script.

Expect to find advice on structure, characterization, and how you can get feedback on your screenplay.

She’ll even talk about her screenwriting journey, with Word Dancer winning the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from the Academy.

Her work has been featured in the New York Times, and she’s sold several options and had award-winning actors linked to her projects.

As she hasn’t been to film school herself, you can see how Word Dancer can provide insight into breaking into the industry.

As a course designed for beginners, it’s for anyone who wants to break into the business. It’s a practical course that can help you understand how to make your dreams a reality.

If you’re interested in the course, it is on offer for $24.99 on Udemy when it’s on sale, with a full price of $119.99.

3. Writing The Short

Taught by Professor John Warren of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts Film and Television Program, this course will teach you how to write your own short film.

This free three-week course will teach you how to win screenwriting competitions using short films. Using a short can even help you see if your idea is any good and show it in your portfolio.

He made this six-module course to help turn your idea into a compelling short script that you can shoot even without screenwriting experience.

It doesn’t matter what kind of short film you write, whether animated or live-action, as this course should help you make it a reality.

The course should only take three weeks to complete, with 25 HD lectures to help you understand the course. Along with this, you’ll have the opportunity to get one-on-one feedback for five separate writing projects.

With these 25 courses, you’ll identify the goal of your screenplay and work on your idea. You’ll even find examples of bad ideas from companies like Disney.

Once you identify your idea, you’ll be able to work on the characters: the protagonist, antagonist, the objective, and the obstacles and conflict between them.

Once you identify these, you’ll be able to write your own logline and develop your pitch.

Once you’ve done this, you can work on the three act structure of your script and figure out how to work on your beat sheet.

Once done, you’ll work on the script and establish the dialogue, formatting, and revising. You’ll even get a better understanding of how you can protect your script too.

Then when you’re done with writing it, you’ll learn how to direct it and come up with a pitch for it.

Upon learning that, you can create a storyboard that will help you figure out how you can successfully storyboard it to make it.

Screenwriting Courses Online

4. Screenwriting Masterclass: A Complete Guide To Screenwriting

The Screenwriting Masterclass is a Complete Guide to Screenwriting taught by Brian Birmingham on SkillShare.

In this course, you’ll learn about the essentials of writing your own screenplay and how you can work on great ideas.

Find out how to develop your characters, format your screenplay using free and professional software, and understand the revision process.

The Screenwriting Masterclass promises that you’ll have all the skills and knowledge you need to create your own screenplay.

With over three hours of premium video lessons, downloadable guides and workbooks to consult, and fun activities, this interactive class is easy to understand.

Not only will you learn about the theory behind screenwriting and how to format, but you’ll also be able to find your own unique style and voice.

You’ll find out why originality is so important and establish good routines to make you more productive.

Once you’ve come up with an idea, you’ll build a synopsis, write your script, and learn more about the editing process.

You can even learn more about breaking down and analyzing films and screenplays. Overall, this is a course that will help you learn the ins and outs of screenwriting with no issues.

Taught by a professional writer with a career in film, television, and all other avenues of writing and marketing, Brian Birmingham knows what he’s talking about.

If you want to access this course, you’ll have to join Skillshare. While you can access it for a week, it will cost you after a seven-day free trial. After this, it will cost $13.75 a month, with $165 annually.

5. Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing For Television

Available on Masterclass, Shonda Rhimes offers over six hours of video lessons about how to write hit television shows.

You’ll recognize Shonda Rhimes for being the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, which she pitched and eventually became one of TV’s greatest hits.

Since then, she’s come up with even more successful shows including Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and many more.

In this Masterclass, she’ll teach you how to write a successful TV show and how it differs from writing a feature film script. You’ll find out how to come up with an idea, develop it, and how to research your story.

Once you know how to do that, she’ll dive into developing memorable characters and the process of writing your script.

Rhimes even goes into more detail about her own shows, diving into case studies for her pilot of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.

Along with teaching you how to break into the industry, she’ll talk about what it’s like to work in a writer’s room, how to be a showrunner, and what writing is like.

If you’re interested in learning about Shonda Rhimes’s career, this is a great way to do so while learning how to improve your own work.

To learn more about this course, you’ll be able to subscribe to it for $15 a month, but it is billed annually. A subscription for MasterClass will cost roughly $180 for a year.

6. Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting

Aaron Sorkin offers an eight-hour MasterClass on how to write a screenplay. There are 35 lessons available, and you may want to pay attention.

Aaron Sorkin is an Academy Award-winning writer who is known for The West Wing, Social Network, and so many more films and shows.

In this course, Sorkin focuses on character development and research to fully develop his characters into reality.

He tells you how you can incorporate your research into the story successfully and how you can captivate your audience. However, he will also tell you the rules of a successful story, and how film story arcs work too.

If you want to get into writing habits, he will tell you. You’ll also find that he includes group workshops in the MasterClass, with five different videos on different films.

You’ll learn how to write scenes and take a look at scene breakdowns from Steve Jobs and The West Wing. He’ll even give you some examples of captivating dialogue, including from The West Wing.

But he’s not only here to talk about first drafts but how to rewrite your script. You’ll find out how notes can help you rewrite your script and an insight into The West Wing Writers’ Room.

Once you’ve learned how to write your script, you’ll learn how to pitch, and show you how with his own pitch to Mission to Mars.

As with the Shonda Rhimes course on MasterClass, you will have to subscribe to access it. This will cost roughly $180 a year, with a monthly cost of $15 each month.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, these are only a few screenwriting courses that you can find online. Not everyone has to go to film school to succeed, but you may want to learn more about the fundamentals for a more affordable price.

There’s only so much you can learn from books and reading screenplays, and getting access to videos and talks can only help you improve.

These screenplays can be helpful not only for beginners but more experienced writers who want to brush up on their skills. So why not check them out and see how your writing skills improve?

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