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Writing for Television

When I realized how many online courses were out there just waiting to be consumed by my greedy brain, I kind of went overboard. I enrolled in classes for novel writing, screenwriting, and any course that I believed would motivate me and help me to hone my craft. Now that I have gotten a few of them under my belt, I’m glad I did it. In this post, I will focus on the television writing courses I have taken and those that I have researched. Maybe this post will save you some time, but in my experience, researching is half the fun!

Shonda Rhimes Masterclass (Writing for Television-Online)

Shonda Rhimes' masterclass on television writing was a great overall review of what goes into the making of a successful television series. She discussed various topics, including:

  • Where to find story ideas (hint: everywhere; newspapers)

  • What makes an idea a good idea for a television series

  • Developing the Concept

  • Story Bible(s)/Show Bible(s)

  • Researching your story

  • Creating memorable characters

The list literally goes on and on. The class even discussed sex scenes for television, pilots of her hit television shows, what it takes to be a successful showrunner; and, what it's like to work in a writer's room. It was an excellent course, and I highly recommend it if you are interested in writing for television. On top of all that, you'll have access to downloads of her pilots and other helpful materials.

Unlimited access costs $180 for the entire year. With this subscription, you will have access to several courses on almost any topic. There is also a monthly subscription if you prefer. Through, I also have taken Aaron Sorkin's screenwriting masterclass and a masterclass in writing taught by James Patterson. Both classes were awesome, and I will be writing about them in later posts.

Jill Chamberlain TV Writing Course (Online)

After I finished Shonda Rhimes' masterclass, I knew I had a legitimate interest in television writing. The masterclass, however, was more of an overview of television writing (which is what I was looking for at the time), and I was eager to learn more.

The main selling point for me of Jill Chamberlain's TV Writing Course is that there is an option to audit the class for approximately a third of the cost of the full class. The downside of auditing is that you do not get to participate in the actual class; therefore, you do not get the benefit of feedback from the class on your teleplay. As you may have read in my previous post, I will be attending the UCLA professional screenwriting program in September. So, if I wanted to learn more about television writing (and complete the first draft of my teleplay by September), I would have to start soon.

I am currently still taking this online course, and so far, it has been extremely helpful in learning the difference between writing movie scripts and writing for television. Jill Chamberlain’s "nutshell technique,” though it can be a bit difficult to figure out at times, has helped me pull together a structurally sound pilot storyline and beat sheet. Additionally, just listening to the class give feedback to others has proven beneficial for me as well.

Other Television Writing Courses

Script Anatomy offers a number of online courses in screenwriting and television writing. I was interested in the Televisionary (Drama Focus) course, but the scheduled class days ran into October. I did take a 90-minute introductory class on television writing that provided a lot of useful information on the writing process. Once I have completed the UCLA program, I may enroll in the course to maintain momentum.

The New York Film Academy (NYFA) offers several online workshops in screenwriting and television writing, with workshops ranging from four to fifteen weeks long. I have looked into the course descriptions of some of the courses offered, and it looks like they cover quite a bit.

In addition to screenwriting, UCLA has an online professional television writing program. UCLA professional programs are certificate programs completed over the course of a year. To apply to the Writing for Television Online program, you will have to submit a Statement of Purpose and a five-page writing sample (screenplay or teleplay). A transcript is also required.

UCLA Extension (a separate division of UCLA) also offers screenwriting courses, with fewer requirements for enrollment.

Finally, Gotham Writers offers a number of reasonably priced writing courses that may be of interest, including courses on scriptwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

There are several other courses out there that I did not list in this post, but the abovementioned courses are the ones that caught my attention. Most screenwriting courses are now being provided solely online due to COVID-19, which is a lucky circumstance for those of us who would not be able to attend classes in-person.

If you would like more information on any of the courses I have taken or plan to take, don't be afraid to reach out to me. I am happy to help in any way I can.

Happy Writing!

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