Screenwriting Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for the Screen


Screenwriting Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for the Screen


Level: Introductory

Location: Online
Duration: 8 weeks
Begins: April 1, 2019
Ends: May 26, 2019


Whether or not you desire to write a screenplay for a motion picture or a pilot for a TV show, there are screenwriting basics you need to know. Granted, the way one writes a screenplay differs from the way one writes a teleplay. However, there are ground rules that apply to both. In this 8-week class, the student will learn the basics of how to write for the screen and most importantly proper screenplay formatting.

Elements that will be covered include openings, three-act structure, character arcs, story development, conflict, dialogue, and theme. There are a number of genres (horror, science fiction, romantic comedy, drama) to choose to write in; each with their own unique set of rules. These will be discussed and exampled. Movies and television shows that exemplify the craft of screenwriting will also be highlighted and discussed.

By the end of class, the student will have a solid understanding of screenwriting as well as the necessary information and tools to continue writing for the screen whether it be for film or television. Each student will start writing a screenplay during class. The coursework will include assigned readings, writing exercises and interaction with the instructor. You will receive written feedback on your work on a weekly basis.

Course Outline

Week 1: First Scenes & How to Write Them

Week 2: What Is Story?

Week 3: Three-Act Structure & How It Works

Week 4: Dialogue & How To Write It

Week 5: Characters & How To Write Them

Week 6: Surprises & Dramatic Irony: What Are They?

Week 7: Endings & Revision: Writing Is Rewriting

Week 8: And That’s a Wrap: A Look Back

Instructor Bio

Senta Scarborough is an award-winning journalist and Emmy® Award-nominated producer. She is a former senior investigative reporter and long-form narrative writer for E! News and E! Online. She spent nearly a decade covering crime as a staff writer for the Arizona Republic. Her work has or will soon appear in USA Today, US Weekly Magazine, Asheville Poetry Review and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others. She currently serves on the board of directors for the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist’s Association. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California Riverside/Palm Desert. She also has a certificate in screenwriting from UCLA Extension Writers Program and is a graduate of the USC Cinematic Arts Summer (screenwriting) Program. She also earned a B.A. in English and Political Science and B.S. in Philosophy and Religion from Radford University. She has written crime dramas inspired by her time in Southern Appalachia and the borderlands of the Southwest.


"Senta taught me so much, and I wouldn't be the journalist I am today if it weren't for her mentorship. Being a good reporter is more than knowing what questions to ask but when to ask them. She always knew when and how to get the best story. Her insights have been so valuable to me, and there isn't a better person to learn from."

Sara Kitnick, Writer/Journalist, New York City

"Not only is Senta an incredible reporter and writer with years of real-world experience, but she is also a great communicator and teacher. By working with her, I developed a variety of essential skills that have enabled me to excel in my career and further my abilities in creating media. I highly recommend learning from Senta!"

Adam Mann, Digital Media Coordinator, CBS

“I was an intern at NBCUniversal’s E! News. Senta worked closely with my cohort to teach us newsroom best-practices, develop us as multimedia journalists, and ensure that we were well-prepared for our future careers. Senta possesses a unique ability to captivate a group of students with diverse learning styles and deliver her lesson clearly. Outside of the training sessions, Senta was a compassionate, funny, and a thoughtful listener. She was a big part of the reason many of the interns felt properly positioned for jobs in the newsroom after college. I feel lucky to know her and honored to have learned from her.”

Mehak Anwar, Communications Associate, The Fair Punishment Project, a joint initiative of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute and the Criminal Justice Institute