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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Humanities Department
Course Prefix and Number: COMM 304
Course Title: *Introduction to Screenwriting
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

This course is an introduction to the art and craft of screenwriting. Students learn basic principles of screenwriting, including how screenwriting differs from other writing styles. Students explore the screenplay style and format, character development and story arcs through a film treatment and short screenplay. Prerequisites: ENGL 112, and either COMM 224 or ENGL 310.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

ENGL 112, and either COMM 224 or ENGL 310

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Offered even Fall.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Screenplay: The Fundamentals of Screenwriting
By Field, Syd
The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats
By Cole/Haag
The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style
By Christopher Riley
The Screenwriter's Bible
By David Trottier
Course Objectives
  • To acquire the necessary vocabulary of screenplay writing and development.
  • To identify the structure of narrative screenwriting.
  • To develop and hone a personal and professional screenwriting style.
Measurable Learning
  • Employ visual and aural perspectives in writing.
  • Demonstrate introductory mastery of the dramatic scene.
  • Describe and explain character development in film.
  • Practice economical screenwriting.
  • Provide constructive and pertinent feedback to peers through the workshop format.
  • Complete a film treatment for a future screenplay.
  • Complete a short screenplay in proper, industry format.
  • Analyze successful writing in contemporary film.
Topical Outline:
  • What is a screenplay?
  • Scene headings
  • Scene endings/transitions
  • Stage directions
  • Characters
  • Dialogue
  • Shooting/reading scripts
  • Revision
  • Shooting schedule
  • Treatments
  • Beat sheets

Recommended maximum class size for this course: 15

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: Amy Darnell Date: October 17, 2011
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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