W&L CS 152CS, examines the interaction of literary to screenwriting with contemporary writers. During the quarter we will study how contemporary screenwriters have approached the adaptation of novels, into film. This will study story structure and full character development into screenplays. We will examine the works of writers, James Patterson, Stephen King, and Attica Locke this quarter and examine their works in screenplays and novels.
This course will be useful to anyone who has an interest in learning more about literature in general, screenwriting, how the written word is translated to the screen, how the written word in another language is translated (first in print, then to the screen), and cultural and historical aspects of adaptation. The course may also be of interest to those who might use film or multi-media in a work environment such as teaching or production, those who may have an interest in directing, photography, cinematography, illustration, acting, computer graphics, and the like, or those who have an interest in literature, film, history, and modern culture.
No background in film studies is needed for this course. You will, however, be asked to look at and think about story and character development more reflectively than some of you have in the past. We will read and study 10 scripts written by contemporary writers as well as screen their films with a link I will provide to you; we will not be making films in this course.
Because we will be dealing with a variety of literary works and films, from this country and elsewhere, and because most contemporary films are not rated G, or PG13, if your value system does not permit you to view films that may have some violence, obscene language, occasional nudity, or vivid images from our or other cultures, this course may not be for you and you may want to choose a different course.
My presentations will involve lecturing, but primarily we will discuss what you are reading and seeing. Our texts for this course are novels, Along Came A Spider, Kiss The Girls, The Shining, Pet Sematary and Central Park Five. The screenplays will be provided once the quarter begins via guachospace.
We will study character and story development. To learn how to develop a character, you first need to understand what their wound is that is keeping them from achieving their outer goal in the story. Fictional plot development isn’t that different than how we develop as real-life people. We will examine characters on a virtual therapy couch and explore what is holding them back from achieving their goals. Once we crawl into their heads, we use that skill for your consideration in developing characters in all screenplays.
You will learn how to find plot points through character evolution that will change your writing style forever. We will think about who the characters are and then brainstorm all the possible things that character would do during the different turning points of the screenplay plot. You will learn how to use a plot outline to help you craft a tale so moving every actor will want to take a role. With our Structure Grid of Character and Plot Development chart, you’ll have a blueprint to follow for all of your screenplays and even novels. By examining these contemporary writers, you will be able to better identify character and characterization in screenplays regardless of genre.
1) To become familiar with adaptation from novel / short story into screenplay;
2) to become familiar with ways of "reading" films;
3) to become more skilled in discussing and evaluating character and story;
4) to develop greater skills in visual literacy “show vs. tell” when writing screenplays;
5) to increase your knowledge of writing techniques and the format for writing for screenplays.
6) to become familiar with some significant filmed texts from contemporary screenwriters and novelists.
1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the elements involved in adapting texts to film;
2. Students will demonstrate analytical skills in visual literacy and reading filmed texts;
3. Students will demonstrate a familiarity with ways of discussing and evaluating films for characterizations, story, and structure;
4. Students will participate in a “community” interested in discussing/analyzing screenplays beyond the surface level of narrative or character and cinematic metaphors.
Harrison, Stephanie, Ed., Adaptations: From Short Story to Big Screen Three Rivers Press/Random House
Patterson, James, Along Came A Spider
Patterson, James, Kiss The Girls
King, Stephen, Pet Sematary
King, Stephen, The Shining
Burns, Sara, Central Park Five