WRITE205-21A (HAM)

Writing for the Screen

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Arts
Screen and Media Studies


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: vanessa.mclean@waikato.ac.nz

Placement/WIL Coordinator(s)


Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)


: anne.ferrier-watson@waikato.ac.nz

You can contact staff by:

  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
    • For extensions starting with 4: dial +64 7 838 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 5: dial +64 7 858 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 9: dial +64 7 837 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123.
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Paper Description

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This paper explores key concepts in writing for the screen and develops practical skills in the application of these concepts. The paper is organised around six main topic areas: formatting, worlds/concepts, characters, structures, scenes/sequences, and rewriting. Each of these topic areas will be explored via one 2-hour face-to-face lecture-time a week and one 2-hour workshop-time. Students should, if possible, attend both and both will involve discussion and group-work at times. Over time, the workshops will become opportunities for students to share and get feedback on their work. As well as four assignments there is a participation grade for the course.

The lectures will be recorded and uploaded to Panopto on Monday nights for those who cannot attend in person. Any information-transfer content in workshops (e.g. lecture material) will be recorded and uploaded. For students who cannot attend workshops a single Zoom session will take place, at a time to be negotiated with those who want to use that session.

If we go back into COVID-19 Lockdown all classes (lectures and workshops) will move online, with lectures on Zoom and workshops combining Moodle group-work and Zoom lectures.

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Paper Structure

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Week beginning:TOPIC
11 MarchIntroduction: what is a script? Why does it look so different from other forms of creative writing?
28 MarchWorld-making: building on what you know - finding an idea
315 MarchWorld-making and genre+: what are the rules and quirks of your world?
422 MarchCharacter development & point-of-viewAssessment 1: Synopsis and logline
529 MarchStructures and Script documents – treatments, beats, formatting:
712 AprilBringing the world to life – conflicts & resolutions, writing scenes,
819 AprilTEACHING RECESSAssessment 2: Character and beat sheets. revised logline
103 MayCharacter arcs and themes
1110 MayBringing the world to life - image & sound systems and dialogue. More on formatting: 2Assessment 3; First draft of script
1217 MayGiving and receiving feedback/coverage, re-writing
1324 MayRe-writing - reorganizing structure, character. plot
1431 MayWorkshopping second draftsClasses finish this week.
158 JuneAssessment 4: Second and final script draft and reflection on process
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • demonstrate understanding of key concepts in writing for the screen
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • demonstrate understanding of how concepts, characters, structures and scenes/sequences are handled by the writer
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • demonstrate knowledge of major industry issues that affect contemporary screen writing
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • demonstrate ability to apply conceptual understanding to practical writing tasks
    Linked to the following assessments:
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These 4 learning outcomes align with the assessment as follows:

A cumulative assignment scheme will progress from loglines, synopses and pitches, through character sheets, beat sheets, and a treatment, to an integrated writing package including formatted scenes, which is then revised according to feedback from tutors and class members and re-submitted as a second draft.

These cumulative assessments align with our Graduate Profile for Screen & Media Studies by developing critically aware practitioners.

The assignments will progressively assemble a package of writing components essential to the practice of writing for the screen. There is also a participation grade which encourages the development of professional practices common in the screenwriting industry.

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Assignment 1: Logline, Synopsis,
19 Mar 2021
11:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Assignment 2: Revised logline, Character, Treatment & Beat sheets
9 Apr 2021
11:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Assignment 3:First draft of script
30 Apr 2021
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Assignment 4: Second draft of scenes and reflective commentary
11 Jun 2021
11:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Attendance, participation (including constructive feedback to others)
  • Other: Convenor & tutors will keep participation records
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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All required and recommended readings are available in PDF format or as electronic links via the paper’s Moodle site.
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Online Support

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Additional information, learning resources, assignment information sheets, advice, etc. will be available online via Moodle, the university’s e-learning platform. Please access WRITE205 online at http://elearn.waikato.ac.nz/ or via iWaikato. Lecture-related resources, tutorial exercises, assignment details, important dates and the paper outline are all available from this site.
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As a 15-point paper, WRITE 205 requires a total commitment from you (if you want to do well) of approximately 10 hours per week (i.e. two-thirds of the points value). 4 of these hours are the timetabled classes (lectures + tutorial). So you are expected to devote approximately 6 hours per week to independent study for WRITE 205 including reading, viewing, accessing material on Moodle, and doing assignments. You may of course choose to spread your independent study hours differently to suit your circumstances and other commitments as the semester proceeds, but if you let too many of the recommended hours pile up later in the semester you’ll run out of time if you want to do well on this paper! So please plan your time carefully and do the work as the semester proceeds, rather than waiting for deadlines.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted papers: SMST218

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