Event—Adult Education

Introduction to Screenwriting


Write your first script from start to finish while learning about the foundations of screenwriting.

Ben Hecht in Director's chair, 1952. Call number: Midwest MS Hecht Bx.112, Fl.#2930, Hecht in Director's Chair, Actors in Sin 1952

Class Description

For this class, a cohort of new screenwriters will each take their project from first idea to first revised draft. Along the way we will develop an understanding of the foundations of screenwriting: character, story, and structure. This will be aided by readings from professional screenplays. Finally, the completed first drafts will be workshopped by the class, providing guidance on where their writing can go next.

Fred Pelzer is a Chicago-based writer. He’s provided script guidance for Full Spectrum Features, Tabula Rasa Theatre, One Love Foundation, and others, and also has worked as a screenwriting contest judge. He’s taught writing workshops in a variety of formats since 2013, and his short story collection Static was published in 2014.

Materials List

  • Screenwriting software

For the First Class:

  • Acquire and familiarize yourself with a screenwriting software system. See some suggested options below; each has its pros and cons, so explore and see what feels best to you.
    • Final Draft – No free version
    • Fade In - Free version is watermarked
    • Highland - Free version is watermarked; Mac Only
    • WriterDuet - Free with limited number of scripts
    • Arc Studio Pro - Free with limited number of scripts
    • WriterSolo - Totally Free
    • Kit Scenarist - Totally Free
  • Finally, the instructor recommends reading this free formatting guide from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, if you are not familiar with the conventions of screenplays.

Cost and Registration

Six sessions, $268 ($241 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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