Screenwriting Crash Course

Screenwriting Crash Course

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Start date: 18 January

The Screenwriting Crash Course is a ten-module online programme that runs you through the essential skills required to write for film or television. Join Michéle Rowe and Richard Beynon, two immensely experienced screenwriters and course facilitators, for an exhilarating introduction to the craft. In just five weeks you’ll master the basic array of skills that could start you on a creative – and profitable – screen or tv writing path.

Key Tactics and Strategies of Master Screenwriting

We’ll introduce you to the key tactics and strategies of master screenwriting. These range from how to craft a killer opening scene, to developing characters, writing scenes and dialogue, and structure.

Each module includes ‘just for you’ exercises designed to get your juices flowing, as well as an assignment that we’ll respond to with direct and substantial feedback that we promise will be honest but kind.

Who should do the Screenwriting Crash Course?

  • If you’re a wannabe scriptwriter, then the Screenwriting Crash Course will lay the foundations for a career in television or film in this country.
  • If you’re already active in a different area of film and television production, then the Screenwriting Crash Course will broaden your perspective and give you insights into both the challenges and the possibilities of creative screenwriting.
  • And if you’re an enthusiast who devours soaps, streamed series and movies, then the Screenwriting Crash Course will broaden your understanding of the medium by unveiling the secrets that lie at the birth of tv and film drama.
  • The course is also suitable for professional or semi-professional writers working in other mediums, such as journalists, playwrights or novelists, who wish to acquire an added skill.

How does the course work?

  • The course is run through our online platform.
  • We’ll introduce you to the key tactics and strategies of master screenwriting over five weeks.
  • The modules are filled with practical advice and dozens of examples of writing that can serve as models for your own.
  • We dreamed up exercises that’ll thrill you – and assignments that’ll bed down your new skills and to which you’ll receive direct and substantial feedback.
  • We’ll post a new module every Monday and Thursday. Assignments will be due on Tuesday evenings and Saturday evenings.  Wednesdays and Sundays will be marking days so that you can read your feedback before starting the new module.
  • You’ll also be able to interact with your fellow course participants. The more online participants interact with each other, the more everyone benefits.

Course Outline – Screenwriting Crash Course

MODULE ONE: What Exactly is a Screenplay?

We explain the key differences between writing for the page and writing for the screen and the technical and dramatic differences between the different formats: movies, dramatic tv series, and soap operas. We consider what’s involved in adapting stories written for the page, for the screen and what a script looks like – and why.

MODULE TWO: The Killer Opening Scene

It’s the duty of the screen or script writer to capture the attention of the viewer in the opening scene – whether it’s a blockbuster super-hero movie, or the teaser opening of an episode of a soap.

MODULE THREE: Kick-Start Your Story

Stories only come alive when our characters are confronted with a challenge of some sort.  But it all begins with The Inciting Incident.

MODULE FOUR: Creating Great Characters

Great stories are wasted on two-dimensional characters. Every story deserves a compelling and interesting protagonist who wants something – and a matching and equally compelling antagonist who wants to prevent her from getting it.


Scenes are the building blocks of any script. Whether they’re provocative, shocking, thoughtful or simply dramatically satisfying, they must maintain the momentum of the story you’re telling.

MODULE SIX: Dialogue

Dialogue plays an essential role in the unfolding of the story, and the presentation of character. Dialogue isn’t quite speech: it’s clearer, less repetitive and richer. But it has to sound like real dialogue. We’ll show you ways in which to achieve these apparently mutually exclusive objectives.

MODULE SEVEN: Visual Writing

Film and television are visual mediums, so it’s essential to learn how to write visually. We explore the techniques of writing a scene without dialogue, using the power of the image to tell the story and reveal character.

MODULE EIGHT: Tension and Suspense

Tension and Suspense in stories is created when questions are asked – and the answers are delayed. In film, foreshadowing is used quite deliberately to anticipate dramatic action, to “set the scene” for drama to come.

MODULE NINE: Upping the Stakes

Writers keep their audiences glued to the screen by constantly and incrementally upping the stakes. But the stakes are doubled and quadrupled by the internal contradictions within characters. Competing loyalties constantly push characters to and beyond their limits.

MODULE TEN: The Hero’s Journey

In this final module we reveal the secret magic of structure, using the popular method known as The Hero’s Journey.

Your course designers and facilitators

Michéle Rowe is a scriptwriter who has worked primarily as a head writer and story originator for television and film. Projects Michéle has originated, written or directed have been nominated for or won various awards, including an Oscar documentary and an International Emmy nomination. At present she works as a script editor, teaches screenwriting and is completing her third novel for Penguin. She has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town.

Richard Beynon is a story consultant and an award-winning film and television scriptwriter with a long and accomplished career in the industry. He has written for – or headed the storytelling teams of – many of country’s most popular soaps, dramas and comedies. These include S’gudi snaysi, Going Up, Soul City, Isidingo, Scandal, Rhythm City and Isibaya. A former journalist for theRand Daily Mail, he has conceived, shaped and written scores of documentaries. He has lectured on writing for film and television at Wits.

With Michéle and Richard’s many decades of professional writing, film industry and teaching experience you’ll be in very capable hands.