Course Title: Write an episode of a TV series

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2014

Course Code: COMM7317

Course Title: Write an episode of a TV series

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6125 - Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting

Course Contact : Program Administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4815

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: John Reeves
9925 4895

Teacher: Ben Michael

Nominal Hours: 70

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


Course Description

This unit explores the skills and knowledge required to write an episode of an existing television series or serial. Television script writing is highly collaborative and requires writers to be able to work effectively with story editors, script editors and script producers. The ability to work to deadlines, meet the production requirements of a particular show and develop story creatively and efficiently in a pressured environment are some of the essential skills required by successful screenwriters.

This is the designated Work Integrated Learning (WIL) course for C6125 Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting. This course includes a WIL experience in which your knowledge and skills will be applied and assessed in a real or simulated workplace context and where feedback from industry and/or community is integral to your experience.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

ASWWTV604A Write an episode of a TV series


1. Develop a story in a team

Performance Criteria:

1.1 A sustainable dramatic premise and dramatic question for the episode are outlined
 1.2 Story ideas are pitched appropriate to the show’s requirements
 1.3 Character arcs and story suitable for program length are designed
 1.4 Story summary is written which communicates the basic premise, dramatic question and central characters and main story sections of the episode


2. Write a scene breakdown

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Contributions are made by writer in a team towards the plotting of an episode
 2.2 Major and minor story strands are devised and integrated
 2.3 Major turning points are created according to show’s conventions
 2.4 Dramatically effective character arcs are plotted
 2.5 Scene breakdown that communicates the essential story beats scene by scene is written up
 2.6 Scene breakdown is delivered to deadline


3. Write a first draft of a script

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Scenes are established according to the approved scene breakdown
3.2 Each scene is developed to advance the story
3.3 Dialogue is drafted appropriate to character
3.4 Vision is created to move story effectively
3.5 Point of view is established and maintained
3.6 Continuity is maintained


4. Write a second draft of a script

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Notes from script editor are incorporated into second draft
 4.2 Exposition is dramatically integrated
 4.3 Scenes are deleted or added to strengthen story and develop character
 4.4 Unnecessary dialogue is removed

Learning Outcomes

 On completion of this unit, you will have developed the skills to write a story, scene breakdown and first and second draft of a TV drama series.

Details of Learning Activities

In this course, you learn through:

1. In-class activities:
• lectures
• industry speakers
• teacher directed group activities/projects
• class exercises to review discussions/lectures
• peer teaching and class presentations
• group discussion
• class exercises to review discussions/lectures
• analysis/critique of students’ writings

2. Out-of-class activities:
• independent project based work
• writing and reading assignments
• online and other research
• independent study

In the second semester of the course, Write TV you will be working independently in teams and as individuals, writing scenes for a TV series. You will be expected to spend a minimum of 2 hours a week outside of class time working on this project, and to bring your work regularly to class for workshopping and to receive feedback from your teacher and your peers.

Teaching Schedule

Week Content Assessment due Competency and Elements
1 Introduction to the semester’s work and assessment.

Small groups nominate leaders and generate ideas for a television series or serial.

What makes a good concept for a television show?

Groups pitch their ideas.

2 New group leaders elected. Groups swap film/TV ideas.

Groups identify problems and changes they feel need to be made to improve the idea.

Groups pitch changes.

3 As Executive Producer, teacher proposes radical changes to group ideas.
Groups incorporate changes, while defending the ones they feel must not be changed. Groups pitch changes to.
4 Teacher chooses project.

Play a role that encourages the movement and shift of ideas within the group towards a well-conceived solution.

Create a mini Bible for the project. The leader assigns tasks to each member to get the job done on time.

Develop series concept, premise and story engine.

5 The character map. How to give a character dimensions that will produce effective story.

Develop theme.

6 Develop character.
Pitch a story idea X 5
Summative 1 1
7 Develop story.
Pitch a story idea X 5
 Summative 1  1
8 Develop story.
Pitch a story idea X 5
 Summative 1  1
Plot an episode
 Formative 1  1, 2
10 Plot an episode  Formative 1  1, 2
11 Agree on industry standard of writing breakdowns and scripts.

Write five scenes of a scene breakdown.

 Formative 2  2
  Mid semester break - 22 September to 3 October    

Write five scenes

 Formative 2  3
13 Edit scenes  Formative 2  4
14 Rewrite scenes  Summative 2  4
15 Additional work as required  Summative 2  3, 4
16 Review course




Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Any prescribed reading material will be distributed in class


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

Other Resources

You will require access to a computer and to the internet.
Final Draft is available on computers in the Carlton Library.

Overview of Assessment

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

Assessment Tasks

Assessment tasks in this course are either formative or summative. Formative tasks provide the basis for ongoing feedback and can be considered as essential building blocks for the more substantial summative assessment tasks. Summative assessment tasks in this unit are graded.

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

Formative assessment for this course comprises three in-class exercises. In order to successfully complete this unit, you will need to complete each of these to a satisfactory standard.

There are three formative assessment tasks in this course.

1. Participate in a series of plotting exercises
Over two weeks, you will participate with others in a series of plotting meetings to develop character arcs and storylines for a TV series. You will be assessed on your ability to contribute effective character and story ideas that are appropriate to the needs of the show, while at the same time working well with other team members.

In the team, you will also contribute to the development of a scene breakdown for an episode of the series.

2. Write five scenes
You will write a first draft of five scenes for the initial episode of the series. You will ensure these scenes follow the scene breakdown, and you will aim for writing of an extremely high quality in which character, action and dialogue move the story forward creatively and dramatically.

3. Edit five scenes
Following basic principles of editing, you will edit your writing partner’s scenes to ensure they serve the needs and conventions of the show and at the same time bring out their dramatic and creative potential.

There are two summative assessments in this course.

1. STORY PITCH (Due 14, 21 or 28 August)

Summary of Assessment
You will verbally pitch a story for the TV series the class has developed.

The story may be for one or more episodes.

Details of Assessment
You will pitch your story in class time, to the whole class. Allow for 10 minutes for your pitch.

You story must:

- be appropriate to the show’s requirements
- contain an effective premise
- provide character development
- be well structure with strong conflict
- be effectively pitched  

Assessment Submission
Your teacher will assess your pitch in class time, and provide you with feedback when you finish.
You will also receive a written assessment of your pitch.

You may choose to use a Powerpoint presentation to assist in your pitch if you wish, but this is not required.

2. SCRIPTED SCENES (Due 23 or 30 October)

Summary of Assessment
You will produce a portfolio of work that includes:

- A scene breakdown of five scenes from the pilot episode of the TV series that was developed by the class.
- A second draft of these five scenes in scripted form. These redrafted scenes will be based on notes from your editor on your first draft. You MUST supply these notes, with the editor’s name.

Details of Assessment
The scene breakdown must effectively communicate story beats, character attitudes, conflict and development in each scene.
The scene breakdown will maintain continuity of story and character, and support narrative requirements, theme and show’s conventions.
Your scenes must demonstrate that you have incorporated your editor’s notes into your rewrite.
Second draft scenes will be well structured and effectively deal with exposition.

You may choose the same scenes as others to breakdown and write; however you will be assessed individually.

Assessment Submission
Scene breakdowns and scenes will be presented in the agreed format. Your scene breakdown, editing notes and scenes will submitted together, as a portfolio.

Scenes are to be submitted digitally in either RTF or Word, to enable teachers to provide notes in the body of the copy. Final Draft files will not be accepted. Digital signed cover sheets must accompany your work. On the blackboard program site, a digital copy of the cover sheet is provided along with instructions on how to set up and use a digital signature.

You are also requested to submit hard copies of your assessment.

This competency is graded. The grades used are as follows:
CHD Competent with high distinction
CDI Competent with distinction
CC Competent with credit
CAG Competent graded
NYC Not yet complete
DNS Did not submit

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix is available through the program administrator.

Other Information

Submission of Assessment Tasks
You are required to submit all written 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.

The major learning experience involves studio based exercises, demonstration and production. It is strongly advised that you attend all sessions in order to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring the maximum opportunity to gain the competency

Cover Sheet for Submissions
You must complete a submission cover sheet for every piece of submitted work. This signed sheet acknowledges that you are aware of the plagiarism implications.

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

Student Progress
Monitoring academic progress is an important enabling and proactive strategy to assist you to achieve your learning potential. Academic progress 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. You can apply in writing for up to a week’s extension from your course teacher. If you need a longer extension, you wil need to apply for special consideration. Special consideration, appeals and discipline

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
RMIT University has a strict policy on plagiarism and academic integrity. Academic Integrity and plagiarism

Work Placement
It is a requirement of this program that all students participate in authentic work related tasks. These may be either simulated or in a real work environment. On occasion, we are approached by industry and given opportunities for students to apply for short term placements. When these placement opportunities arise, students are required to negotiate the specific details with the relevant program coordinator or teacher. All industry placements require students, RMIT staff and host organisations to sign a written agreement prior to the commencement of the placement.

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