10 Best Screenwriting Online Courses & Classes [Updated 2020]
Anybody can write a short scene. Yes, anybody can. But not everybody knows how to write a scene which is not just a creative masterpiece, but also has powerful dialogues, and makes sense to everybody in the production line, right from the actors to the crew members like set designers, location scout, cinematographer, production designer, costume designers etc. And why should it make sense to all of them? So that they know exactly what they need to work on as per their job profile. But if writing in such a way seems intimidating right now, then fret not.
We here at TrumpLearning along with a team of 15 experts have brought to you this list of the best screenwriting online courses to make the whole learning a fun filled journey. Even the greatest screenplay writers started from somewhere humble. If they could do it, then you can too! So, let’s begin.
10 Best Screenwriting Online Courses & Classes
- Screenwriting Course By Aaron Sorkin [Masterclass]
- Online Screenwriting [New York Film Academy]
- Screenwriting & Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys [Udemy]
- Inspirational Screenwriting [Udemy]
- Beginning Screenwriting made EASY [Udemy]
- Screenwriting Courses [Screenwriters University]
- Screenwriting [Gotham Writers]
- An Introduction to Screenwriting [Future Learn]
- Summer Program Classes [USC Cinematic Arts]
- Script Writing: Write a Pilot Episode for a TV or Web Series By Michigan State University [Coursera]
This is a 2-hour 23-minute masterclass consisting of 13 video lessons by Aaron Sorkin, who is a renowned screenwriter. His works include A Few Good Men, The West Wing and The Social Network. This screenwriting online course will impart valuable skills like rules of storytelling, working on dialogues, character development insights, and the art of selling a script. The course aims at helping you learn how you can catch the attention of your audience. Enrolment in the online screenwriting class will also grant you access to a downloadable workbook which contains lesson recaps and supplemental materials.
Important lessons covered in the course are:
- Intention & Obstacle
- Developing Characters
- Story Ideas
- Incorporating Research
- Writing Scenes
- Writing Captivating Dialogue
There are a lot of screenwriting online courses at the New York Film Academy apart from the usual screenwriting degrees, workshops, and programs. These screenwriting online courses deal with a variety of genres like feature-length film scripts, television, and comic book writing. There are seven 15-week courses and two 4-week courses in the complete set of the online courses. You can either take individual screenwriting online courses or complete the full arc.
Here we are discussing the three most popular screenwriting online courses.
In this course you would be learning the fundamentals of feature screenwriting and feature screenplay story structure. Further, you would be diving into the more subtle concepts like subtext and exposition in dialogue, in-depth writing tools, generating and developing stories, etc. Finally, the screenwriting online class also introduces you to detailing the feel and flow of a story, plotting a feature film idea, working on a script, etc.
The focus of this screenwriting online class lies on teaching students about writing the script of an existing series. The primary aim here is to master the style, format and voice of a show that a writer did not create from scratch, but became a part of later on. Here you would be learning by studying half-hour and hour-long television series and then writing a spec script. You would be developing an episode idea and then breaking it down to fit the structure of a series.
If the focus of the above screenwriting online class was on building upon the legacy of an existing series, then here you would be creating a whole new world from scratch. You would be developing a sustainable story engine for a brand new T.V. series and giving new characters to the world through a pilot episode. The goal here is to come up with a new T.V. series idea and breathing life into it. You would be working on the character depth, themes and plot upon which a series can thrive.
The focus of this 6.5-hour screenwriting online course lies in teaching students about storytelling through the lens of filmmaking. You would be taught a variety of concepts like mastering the essential elements, how we can maximise the emotional involvement of our audience and 5 essential turning points for any screenplay. Further, you would also study about defining a hero’s journey, viewing the commercial aspect of your ideas and creating three-dimensional emotions in your characters. The course does not require you to have any prior experience and can be taken by anybody who has a keen interest in learning.
Important concepts covered in these screenwriting classes are:
- Six Stage Plot Structure
- The Hero’s Journey
- The Visible and Invisible Goal
- Can the story begin in the Special World?
- Revealing the Longing
- Writing a Screenplay That Sells
Reviews by student:
It is a good course. There is a lot of insight which the course doers will get and then they will have a different perspective to stories.
This is a relatively short 3-hour screenwriting online class where you would get to know how you can write successful cinematic stories for both films and television. The methodology of teaching of the whole course guides a student to a finished project. The primary objective of the teachings of this course is to enable you to sculpt a full length feature film screenplay. The course has been taught by Paul Castro who has forty plus original television pilots and feature length screenplays to his name. As always, the course has been backed by a Udemy 30-Day Money Back Guarantee. Upon completing the course you would also get a certificate of completion as is the case with all Udemy courses.
Core concepts that you will study in this screenwriting online course are:
- Protagonist, Antagonist and Opening Images
- Inciting Incident
- Three Act Finale
- Scene Construction and Character Arc
- Sequence Writing
- Good News, Bad News, Timeframe, Timelock
Reviews by student:
As a writer of poetry, novels, and short stories I was pretty confident. Screenwriting is an entirely different universe and a fascinating one at that.
In this 2.5-hour screenwriting online class with 2 downloadable resources, you would study about the fundamentals of screenwriting and work towards writing a movie screenplay. Anybody who wants to learn the art of screenwriting can take the course irrespective of the fact whether you have done something similar before or not. You would be going through a lot of topics like the biggest mistake new screenwriters make, making your idea resonate with the audience, getting feedback on a finished screenplay, and get to know a lot of great screenwriting tips and tricks during your journey.
A few key takeaways from this course are:
- Hollywood Insider Secrets
- Screenplay Structure made EASY
- What’s under the plot?
- Planning your story
- Protecting Your Screenplay
- Naming Characters
Reviews by student:
The course was a great, it helped me a lot with character introduction. It has also given a few websites to look which have been very helpful.
As expected, the Screenwriters University has a plethora of screenwriting online courses on its platform. There are courses divided on the basis of a variety of factors like courses for beginners, courses on the basis of end goal and also courses divided on the basis of course length.
For the sake of simplicity, we will discuss here the 3 really popular screenwriting online courses on the platform.
This screenwriting online class will provide you access to the tools to transform ideas in your head to something tangible and have a completed screenplay. You will be introduced to the methods that professional screenwriters are using these days to write under the enforced deadlines. As the name suggests, the objective is to complete the draft of your screenplay in just ten weeks while getting expert feedback at every step.
Key concepts to be taken from the screenwriting online course are:
- Developing a strong premise
- Exploiting a genre to find well-worn paths
- Outer Desire and Inner Desire
- Avoiding the dreaded ‘Act Two slump’
This online screenwriting program is designed for students who want to know what to do after they have completed their pilot or spec. In this course an expert and established screenwriter will look over your devised screenplay and you will be getting tips on how you can polish it and make it better than what it currently is. The entire eight-week workshop has been broken up into 4 sessions. Each session focuses on the individual elements of the screen rewriting process.
Primary topics covered in the course are:
- Approaches to writing a spec or pilot script
- Optimizing the structure of your TV screenplay
- Getting the most out of your characters and plot
- Troubleshooting your screenplay
This is another popular online screenwriting program on the platform where you will get to study about the different ways of creating memorable characters, satisfying stories, and intriguing conflict through a web series. The course aims at making you capable of having a pilot episode written in your hand by the time you’re finished with the course content. The course also prepares you mentally for larger formats like feature screenplays and television scripts.
A few things that you will come across in this online screenwriting program are:
- Creating a unique premise with a striking hook
- Developing indelible characters
- Writing powerful dialogues
- Budgeting your project
Reviews by student:
I’m continually grateful for your course [Storytelling: How To Write Stories That Will Grab And Hold Your Audience] and what I learned. I find that I’m more critical…wanting to change or re-write books and films I experience…an interesting exercise in itself.
In this online screenwriting program you will learn about the craft of dramatic writing. You will also learn about how you can write for the screen, and work towards promoting your work to the right audience. The focus of the course lies on making its students learn the art of writing engaging screenplays that can captivate a variety of audience. There are two levels in this course. Level 1 is of 10-weeks in duration. Another option to complete Level 1 is to take a one-day intensive 7-hour crash course. Level 2 of the course consists of another 10-week workshop. At the end of the screenwriting online course, you would be awarded with a program certificate.
Level 1 course has been designed to give you the basics of screenwriting craft.
Main topics that you will encounter in the Level 1 online screenwriting program are:
- Finding a strong protagonist
- Writing effective screenplay description
- Tenets of a good scenes
- The value of subplots
Level 2 course aims at helping you sharpen your skills at screenwriting craft and work toward completing a screenplay. You need to complete the Level 1 online screenwriting program in order to be enrolled into the Level 2 course.
Major topics covered in the Level 2 course are:
- Pros and cons of outlining
- Story basics for plot-driven movies
- Fine points of scene construction
- Protagonist and non-protagonist subplots
In this 2-week online screenwriting program you will study about the key concepts and fundamental principles that are involved in the process of screenwriting. University of East Anglia’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing are the creators behind this course. The course covers a variety of screenplay genres and aims at taking your screenwriting skills to a professional level. The course does not have any prerequisites and can be taken by anybody who is willing to learn the art of screenwriting. You are suggested to devote at least 3-hours per week to the course to complete it within the stipulated time period.
Some of the topics that you will encounter in this online screenwriting program are:
- Basic characteristics of screen story
- Development of a basic storyline
- The Three Act Structure
- Characters and developing character outlines
- Workflow for writing the first draft
- Process for screenplay formatting
The University Of Southern California mainly offers 3 different screenwriting screenwriting online courses. The difference between these courses (apart from the actual content obviously) is who is the USC online screenwriting course meant for.
The 3 screenwriting online courses are as follows:
This USC online screenwriting course follows learning by doing methodology and helps students learn by making them write assignments that address the building blocks of a good script. The USC online screenwriting course is a combination of lectures and discussions and you will write two short scripts while using specific tools of screenwriting. This USC online screenwriting course contains 4 units and is meant for students of all levels.
Important topics you’ll come across in this online screenwriting program are:
- Screenplay structure
- Generating strong characters
- Character development
- Protagonist/antagonist, hero/opponent conflict
The focus of this USC online screenwriting course lies on helping the students create an original T.V. series. You will get into the core area of developing a new T.V. series from scratch and get to work on screenings, analysis of sample pilots, reading show bibles, and reading show pilot scripts. You will also get to discuss successful shows and prototypes. This USC online screenwriting course too is meant for students of all levels and contains 2 units.
Core concepts covered in the USC online screenwriting course are:
- Approaching a series Pilot
- TV series structure
- Creating the ‘world’ of your show
- Creating the ‘characters’ in your show
This is a USC online screenwriting course consisting of 4 units and is meant for those students who have some kind of experience when it comes to screenwriting. The course provides you the necessary guidance to create a finished screenplay. The aim of the USC online screenwriting course is to help you structure and write a completed rough draft of a 3-act, full-length feature screenplay in just 6 weeks. Hence, you would be leaving with a script that you can either continue to revise or make public in the industry.
Major lessons taught in the USC online screenwriting course are:
- Process of writing a feature screenplay
- Practical aspects and understanding of screenwriting
- Organized story idea and clearly defined characters
- Ideas, Dialogue, Formatting, and Narrative
10. Script Writing: Write a Pilot Episode for a TV or Web Series By Michigan State University [Coursera]
The last course in our list is a project-centered course offered by Michigan State University. The course aims at helping you write complete pilot episodes for your own unique television or web series in the genre of your choice, i.e. comedy, drama or whatever. You will start off by learning to break down the creative process into components, study about a structured process to produce a polished and pitch-ready script, and then move on to ways to tap into your creativity through active learning. The online screenwriting program does not require you to have any prerequisite knowledge apart from using a basic word processor. The total duration of the course is around 23-hours.
A few key takeaways from this course are:
- Developing your TV series concept
- Writing your pilot episode in various acts
- Giving your characters a voice
- Creating a cold open and finish
- Polishing your script
- Writing your act outline
Reviews by student:
Fantastic course, loved the way it walked you step by step through the process and the formatting. This course could have been ten weeks and still wouldn’t be enough. Awesome hands on learning.
This brings us to the end of our list of the best screenwriting online courses. Screenwriting needs proper guidance and planning in order to maximize the efficiency of the final outcome. Also, a good screenplay would save the cast and crew from a lot of headache and streamline the whole process of production. With these words we take your leave and promise to come back with another awesome article. In case you have any suggestions, feedback or queries, please do write to us, We love to hear from our readers and would get back to you as soon as possible.