Published: June 10, 2020
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By: Ora Damelin, Columbia College Chicago
Category: Film & Television
Hashtags: #Adaptation #Film #Screenwriting #Shortfilm #Television #writingfortelevision
In my Writing for Television class, we not only analyzed episodes in class, we also discussed format, story, and structure of half-hour and hour long television episodes.
During the first half of the semester, we were assigned several creative exercises, from making a list of twenty original characters to writing a page long short screenplay. We also watched episodes of hour-long dramas and half-hour comedies outside of class, transcribed the dialogue, and broke down the episodes outside of class. These assignments-all available here-helped me to become a more efficient writer, and gave me a better grasp of episodic structure.
For our midterm assignment, we were given a collection of short stories and required to adapt one into a six page script. I choose to adapt Roxanne Gay's fable, "Requiem for a Glass Heart." The simple story spans a great deal of time in prose, and the format of screenwriting requires events to be shown and drawn out rather than just mentioned. This made concentrating the sprawling narrative into a six page screenplay a major challenge, but I am proud of the result.
For my final project, I pitched, wrote, and edited a spec script of "The Good Fight," entitled "You Can't Always Get What You Want." During the second half of the semester, we used class-time to read and critique each other's scripts, and worked in smaller groups outside of class to workshop our projects. An excerpt from the second act of the script is available here.