Course Title: Produce Writings - Screenwriting

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2011

Course Code: COMM5404

Course Title: Produce Writings - Screenwriting

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C4171 - Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing

Course Contact : Brendan Lee

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4368

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: Roz Williams
Phone: 9925 4974

Nominal Hours: 105

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

At RMIT, the competency Produce Writings – Screenwriting VBP552 is delivered and assessed in conjunction with the following competencies:

CUSRAD01A Collect and organise information;
CUVCOR11A Source information on history and theory and apply to own area of work;
CUVCOR03A Develop, refine and communicate concept for own work

Course Description

This course is an introduction to Screenwriting where you explore the various components of film and television writing.  You identify what distinguishes this writing form from other art forms and experiment with writing and editing techniques in order to write a work for the screen.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBP552 Produce Writings - Screenwriting


Analyse the purpose of the writing task

Performance Criteria:

1.1 The purpose of the work is confirmed with relevant parties
1.2 The form, media and technique most appropriate to the purpose of the writing task is selected
1.3 The stylistic and cultural context of the writing task is proposed to meet the writing objective


Create the writing task

Performance Criteria:

2.1 The level and scope of the writing task is analysed to determine the length and style of the work.
2.2 The level of research required to fulfil the agreed outcome to the required style and standard is analysed
2.3 The resources necessary to retrieve or generate the relevant information is determined
2.4 The type and level of information required to suit the context of the writing task is planned


Investigate the scope of the writing task

Performance Criteria:

3.1 The writing task is planned to reflect the media, scope, structure and content of the work
3.2 Ideas are organised and developed into an ordered sequence
3.3 All resources required to deliver the writing task are organised
3.4 A timeline for the completion of the writing task that reflects the critical milestones is determined


Plan the writing task

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Components of the information required and the form in which the writing will be developed, constructed, presented
4.2 The intention of the writing task and the characteristics of the audience are reflected in the writing
4.3 Appropriate processes and research are utilised to retrieve the necessary information
4.4 The particular characteristics of the media are analysed to inform the writing in a way that is appropriate for the purpose of the writing
4.5 Relevant information sources are employed to generate and inform the writing task
4.6 Common literary devices and the metaphoric function of language are integrated into the writing task
4.7 Writing task is produced in accordance with writing goals


Realise the writing task 

Performance Criteria:

5.1 The writing task is appropriate for the media, the context of the brief and the style of the subject matter
5.2 The language in which the writing task is written is suitable for the intended audience
5.3 The writing task is proofed and edited to the standard required for presentation
5.4 A draft is presented, if required, to the client to confirm that the work is acceptable
5.5 Work is adjusted as required and presented in the agreed manner and timeframe

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will have gained insight into the theory and practice of screenwriting. Through research and practice you will be able to develop an initial concept into a written work.


Details of Learning Activities

In this course, you will learn through -
in class activities:
• lectures
• guest lecturers
• peer teaching and class presentations
• group discussion
• workshopping
• independent project based work
• teacher directed group activities/projects
• class exercises to review discussions/lectures
• workshopping of students’ own projects
• analysis/critique of writings of students’ choice

out-of-class activities:
• online research
• reading of scripts to provide examples of writing elements
• viewing films, television, on-line drama.

Teaching Schedule

Week Starting
Class content Elements
Week 1Introduction, differences between screenwriting and other forms of writing. Getting ideas. CUSRAD01A: 1
VBP552: 1
Week 2The main/basic story. Plot and subplot – differences between film and tv. Story synopsis. Marketing synopsis. Loglines.
Film reviews (presentations) throughout semester.
Script reading throughout semester – report back to class.
 VBP552: 2
Week3 Classic (3-act) narrative structure. 1st & 2nd turning points. Mid Point. Climax. Denouement. CUSRAD01A:2
VBP552: 3
Week 4Workshop draft story synopsis. CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 5Workshop draft story synopsis CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 6Exposition. Narrative techniques of foreshadowing and planting information.Submit synopsis for markingVBP552: 2
Week 7Creating screen characters. Motivation, character arcs. The treatment (aka story outline) VBP552: 2
Week 8Tutorials with teacher CUVCOR03A: 3
VBP552: 1
Week 9Character functions. Creating character biographies and notes – difference between the two. VBP552: 2
Week 10Workshop character biographies CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 11Workshop character biographies CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 12Discuss treatments. Guest speaker.Submit character biographies for markingCUVCOR03A: 2
VBP552: 2
Week 13Basic genre. Point of view. Theme. More discussion/workshop on treatments. CUVCOR03A: 2
VBP552: 2
Week 14Workshop treatments CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 15Workshop treatments. CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 16Student scene choices/screeningsSubmit treatments for markingVBP552: 5
Week 17Assessment and review  
Week 1Introduction to screen (sync) dialogue. CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 2
Week 2Writing screen dialogue – differences between real and screen dialogue.
Television review/presentations throughout semester. Read film/tv scripts and report back to class
VBP552: 1-3
Week 3Subtext. Other uses of dialogue (other than sync). VBP552: 2
Week 4Screen language. Script formatting. VBP552: 2
Week 5Writing stage directions. VBP552: 2
Week 6Creating scenes. Scene structure and pacing. Students to commence blocking out 1st two pages of their scripts from their treatments VBP552: 4
Week 7More on writing scenes. Guest speaker.Submit 1st 10 pages for photocopy-ingVBP552: 4
Week 8Workshop 1st 10 pages of script. CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 9Workshop scripts CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 10Workshop scripts CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 11Workshop scripts CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 12Scene functions CUSRAD01A: 2
VBP552: 3
Week 13Workshop 2nd 10 pages of script in small groups CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 14Workshop CUSRAD01A: 4
VBP552: 4
Week 15Non-fiction screenwritingSubmit 20 pages of script for markingVBP552: 2,3
Week 16Working in the industry CUVCOR11A: 1
Week 17Assessment and review  

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Students will be expected to make full use of the Carlton library in accessing scripts and will also be expected to view films and tv programs in their own time.
There are no set texts for this course. The following is a recommended reading list:

• Screenwriting Updated, by Linda Aronson, pub. 2000, Allen & Unwin
• Story, by Robert McKee, pub. 1999, Methuen
• Television Writing: The Ground Rules of Series, Serials & Sitcom, by Linda Aronson, pub. 2000, AFTRS
• Big Screen Small Screen, by Coral Drouyn, pub. 1994, Allen & Unwin
• Making a Good Script Great, by Linda Seger, pub. 1987 Dodd, Mead & Co., Hollywood
• Writing the Short Film, by Pat Cooper an Ken Dancyger pub. 1994, Focal Press
• Screenwriting – A Manual, by Jonathan Dawson, pub. 2000 Oxford University Press
• The Writer’s Journey – Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters, by C. Vogler, pub. 1991, Michael Weise Productions
• The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell, pub. 1993, Fontana Press*
• Elements of Style for Screenwriters by Paul Argentini, pub. 1998, Lone Eagle Publishing Co.
• Writing Your Screenplay, by Lisa Dethridge, pub. 2003, Allen & Unwin

(*highly recommended for storytelling purposes rather than for screenwriting)


You are advised to look at the course Blackboard site for ongoing updated information.

Other Resources

You require access to the internet for this course

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is ongoing throughout the semester. Your knowledge of course content is assessed through participation in class exercises, oral presentations and through the application of skills and insights learned from the course content to your writing tasks.

Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course, you will need to complete the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback on all assessment.

For further information on the grading system and criteria used, please refer to the course blackboard site.


1. Film review/presentation (5%)
Class presentation (minimum 300 words) of film currently in release or re-release at cinema followed by class discussion.
Due date: Throughout 1st semester

2. TV review/presentation (5%)
Class presentation of tv program (including screening of selected scenes) – this can be of program currently on free-to-air or cable tv or on released dvd/video, followed by class discussion. Dur of presentation 15 mins
Due date: Throughout 2nd semester

3. Read scripts and view films/tv programs off campus (5%). Discuss with class.
Due date: Throughout year.

4. Write story synopsis incorporating 3-act structure for screen story of 20 mins duration or longer (10%)
1-page story synopsis (single-line spacing, 12 point), including workshopping.
Due date: Wk 4 (workshop), Wk 6 (to teacher for marking)

5. Character biographies from story synopsis (5%)
2 character biographies of 250 words (minimum), each including workshopping.
Due date: Wk 10 (workshop), Wk 12 (to teacher for marking)

6. Treatment/story outline developed from story synopsis (25%)
Up to 10-page treatment/story outline, set out in 1.5 or double-line spacing, including workshopping. This is for entire story.
Due date: Wk 14 (workshop), Wk 16 (to teacher for marking)

7. 1st 10 pages of 1st draft screenplay for workshopping (20%j).
1st 10 pages of script from treatment, set out in industry format.
Due date: Wk 8 to teacher for photocopying
Workshopping will continue per teaching schedule.

8. 1st 20 pages of screenplay (25%)
Revised 1st 10 pages plus 2nd 10 pages of script, including workshopping.
Due date: Wk 13 (workshopWk 15 (to teacher for marking).

Grades used in this unit are as follows:

Grades which apply to curriculum-based courses:
80 – 100% HD High Distinction
70 – 79% DI Distinction
60 – 69% CR Credit
50 – 59% PA Pass
Under 50% NN Fail

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are
available through the course contact in Program administration

Other Information

Submission of assessments
Submit all assessment tasks in hard copy with a completed School of Media and Communication cover sheet. You are expected to keep a copy of all assignments submitted.

You will receive spoken and/or written feedback from teacher on your work. Where appropriate, this feedback also includes suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.

RMIT has a strict policy on plagiarism. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy.

Special consideration Policy (Late Submission)
All assessment tasks are required to be completed to a satisfactory level. If you are unable to complete any piece
of assessment by the due date, you will need to apply for an extension.
Please refer to the following URL for extensions and special consideration:;ID=qkssnx1c5r0y;STATUS=A;PAGE_AUTHOR=Andrea%20Syers;SECTION=1;

Course Overview: Access Course Overview