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Conventions of the Screenplay

At a Glance

  • Create a solid script by delving deep into discovering the essentials elements of great scripts
  • Enhance the imagery as well as the visual metaphor in your screenplay
  • Get feedback and guidance from Pepperdine professor Nancy Dodd

A screenplay at its essence shows a story through images. Think of your favorite movie and visualize your favorite scenes rolling across the screen. A writer first visualized the concept for those scenes and wrote them in a way to be visual, but without telling the director, actors, cameraman, or designers how to do their job. Good screenplays take advantage of strong imagery and visual metaphors rather than long descriptions for storytelling. Compelling dialogue fills in where more information is needed to develop relationships or story. Screenplays also use specific formatting conventions, and like novels, some genre conventions. These are key elements that must be in place for a reader to become engaged with the story. After all, every screenplay is read before it ever makes it to the screen. If the reader can't see it playing in his or her mind's eye, or doesn't recognize the format, it will never get to the big screen.

This class will help you to think about showing your story on the big screen by developing imagery, using visual metaphors, and the difference between writing description for a novel and action lines or shots for a screenplay. The course will also help you to strengthen your dialogue, as well as learn some of the formatting and genre conventions. This is a great course for writers who have always wanted to try screenwriting, but are unsure of how to get started. It’s also a good course to help screenwriters take their screenplays to a new level by better understanding how to write in the language of the screenplay.

All of Screenwriters University's workshops are designed to fit into even the busiest of schedules. The workshops have no set meeting time. You can sign in and read lectures, complete and submit assignments, and participate in discussions on a timetable that fits your needs. This workshop will consist of eight, one-week sessions. Each session includes an online lecture as well as a writing assignment that will be submitted to the instructor for private review, along with various additional creative exercises and supplements. Student work can also be posted for group review and feedback. Throughout the workshop you will be able to participate in asynchronous lecture discussions, and you’re encouraged to take advantage of your classmate's feedback by posting the self-directed writing exercises.


Course Outline

Week One: Developing the Scenes
  • Writing two to three scenes, or a very short story
  • Incorporating a theme, the setting, and character definitions
Week Two: Formatting the Screenplay
  • Using generally accepted screenplay conventions
  • Encountering specific formatting problems
Week Three: Making it Visual
  • Changing description into imagery
  • Conveying what you see in screenplay format
  • Reflecting the screenplay style of storytelling
Week Four: Using Visual Metaphors
  • Understanding the theme of your story and what you want to accomplish
  • Identifying the abstract ideas and writing that is emotional or intellectual rather than visual
  • Developing visual metaphors
Week Five: The Conventions of Genre
  • Identify the major genres
  • Understanding the conventions those genres
Week Six: Understanding Your Character and Your Character’s Voice
  • Looking at your characters
  • Understanding their attitudes, and how they think and feel
Week Seven: Writing Dialogue
  • Translating what you know about your characters into dialogue
  • Understanding character interaction
Week Eight: Putting It All Together
  • Polishing your work
  • Exploring ways to develop it further

Product Details

  • Date available: 06/23/2014
  • Publication date: 06/23/2014
  • Return policy: This item is not eligible for return.

Return Policy

Your satisfaction is our top priority. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, please return the item(s) for an exchange or refund within 30 days from the purchase date, unless otherwise noted on the product page.

Ship the item(s) to The Writers Store via a traceable and insured method. You will be responsible for return shipping fees.

Please include a completed Return Form with your shipment. Refunds take up to one week to process once we have received the item(s).

Software returns must be deactivated and uninstalled from your computer before a refund may be issued. Please contact the software manufacturer if you need assistance uninstalling or deactivating your software.

The following items are not returnable: Hollywood Creative Directories, DVDs (opened), and Gift Certificates.

Meet the Author: Nancy Ellen Dodd

Nancy Ellen Dodd is a writer, university instructor, and an editor who currently teaches screenwriting and management communications at Pepperdine University. She also teaches writing workshops, and has co-taught with entertainment icons such as director/producer Tom Shadyac, screenwriter/director Randall Wallace, and Emmy-award winning comedy writer/executive producer Dick Blasucci.