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A Look at COMM 359, Screenwriting

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This semester I’ve had the chance to take a Communications elective course, COMM 359, Screenwriting. I’ve always had a love for writing, so I thought Screenwriting would be an enjoyable class. A friend of mine had taken it senior year and recommended it to me, so I was persuaded to sign up for it.

The course is taught by Communications professor, Dr. Kim Miller, and it serves as an introduction to the art of screenwriting. It covers topics such as character development, plot structure and storytelling techniques. It’s a great 3 credit course offered only during the spring semester that teaches students to recognize the basic elements of screenplays and gives students a chance to draft their very own screenplay.

The class is a nice mixture of lectures and group work, as well as independent in class and out of class work. Over the course of the semester we’ve worked on smaller assignments like writing short scenes using prompts given in class. We’ve also been working on our own screenplays which will be due at the end of the semester. There have been workshop days where we read each other’s stories in assigned groups, critiquing them and offering advice to each other. We’ve also watched movie clips in class and movies out of class as homework assignments, discussing various elements in these films.

Going into the course I had very little experience with screenwriting, so it has been both challenging and fun to experiment with this unique style of writing. It’s tempting to write a screenplay like a novel, telling about character’s thoughts and feelings, rather than relying on dialogue and actions to show those thoughts and feelings. The class has definitely stretched me since it requires a type of writing that I’ve never really done before.

Nonetheless, I’m learning the ins and outs of screenwriting, and it’s fascinating. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of all that goes into writing a movie and what elements work well and don’t work so well. I find myself watching movies with a more critical eye now, paying close attention to dialogue and character development.

Overall, Screenwriting has been a great outlet for creativity, especially amidst traditional classes. There aren’t too many classes where you’re assigned to watch a movie for homework. Screenwriting is a fun, relaxed class with lots of freedom for creativity, and it’s perfect for anyone interested in writing, movies or someone simply wanting to fill their schedule with a unique elective.

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