PWU243 The Essentials of Screenplay Writing

  • 24 Jun 2014
  • 28 Jun 2014
  • American University of Paris
  • 12


  • until 31 May, 2014
  • after 31 May, 2014

Registration is closed
The Essentials of Screenplay Writing with Writer-in-Residence Judith Merians

June 24 - 28, 2014 @ the American University of Paris

Course Description: Learn what makes a screenplay work and how a film hooks an audience. The workshop will study story, structure, developing a captivating theme, character creation, dialogue and subtext, plot and subplots, visual story telling techniques, scene development, conflict creation and resolution. The participants will view scenes of a film and study the related scenes in the underlying screenplay to analyze the script writing essentials. Further the participants will also study how all the non-written creative elements such as music, costuming, set décor, casting, color palette, and locations contribute to the story telling and marry into in a harmonious totality. The workshop members will participate in writing exercises to build these essential screenwriting skills and will critique each other’s work. Time permitting, the instructor will discuss the screenplay in the marketplace including agents, readers, submissions procedures, marketability, targeting buyers.

Requirements: Submit either a step-outline of a screenplay or a three act story outline by 31 May, 2014. 

A step-outline of about 12-20 pages simply and clearly describes what happens in each scene.

(e.g. She opens the door to her apartment pulling her suitcase behind her and finds papers and items strewn on the floor, furniture overturned, and no one home.)

If you are not that far along in the development of your project then you can submit a story in a three act structure:

Act one: The set up setting out who the main character is, where/when the story is located, what s/he wants and what his/her unconscious need is, what/who is standing in his/her way (antagonist), what event sets this story in motion.

Act two: How does the protagonist overcome the ever increasing and more difficult obstacles to satisfy his/her want and what does he/she learn about his/her need, what event happens that leads to the climax.

Act three: How is the problem solved, the want satisfied or not, the issues resolved, and enlightenment gained with respect to the unconscious need.

(e.g. Tootsie - 

Act one: Difficult but talented actor cannot be hired because no one wants to work with him. Dressed and made up as a female he auditions for the part of a woman and gets the role.

Act two: His character becomes hugely popular but he wants to leave the role since he has fallen in love with the leading lady who thinks he is a woman and rejects him while her father proposes marriage to him.

Act three: He finds a way to "come out" in the role, reveal on camera that he is a man, and then pursues the lead actress who initially reviles him then comes around to start a "beautiful friendship" or more.)

Additionally, before the first day of the workshop please watch the film Notting Hill and read the screenplay. Bring the screenplay to the first class and thereafter. The film will be used as a teaching tool.

Visit the Manuscript Submission Guidelines page for additional submission details.


Agent Consultation: Your registration automatically entitles you to a one-on-one consultation with your workshop faculty member, however, if you wish to have a one-on-one consultation with a literary agent, please register for that separately. Agent consultations are €50 for PWW participants.

Literary Dinner: If you would like to attend the literary dinner, please register for that separately as well. Dinner rates for participants and their guests are €45 per person.

Good to know: 

  • WICE members can register for this event online using WICE's fast and secure online system. Simply click on the link and follow directions.
  • Not a member? You may be able to join some events as a nonmember for a small fee which includes a 3-month membership. Please send an email to if you have questions. We look forward to talking with you.