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Screenwriting: The Art of the First Draft

with Hal Ackerman

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  •   Trailer

  •   04 Step 2: Choose What Story to Write

    31:51

Class duration: 5h 28m

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  • 100% recommended

    15 student reviews

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About The Class

get your script on paper.


The most overwhelming, yet critical step for the screenwriter is the first draft. Staring at a blank sheet of paper can induce "writers block" faster than any other challenge facing a screenwriter. Screenwriting: The Art of the First Draft will equip you with a roadmap for tackling your initial draft and guide you to the next steps on the scriptwriting journey. 

In this class, Hal Ackerman will teach you how to jumpstart the writing process and complete a written first draft of your screenplay. You’ll learn how to:
  • Organize your ideas into scenes and acts
  • Approach character development and dialogue
  • Take next steps after the first draft is complete
Hal has been teaching screenwriting to students at UCLA since 1985. He has sold material to all the broadcast networks and authored well-known books on the art of screenplay writing and selling In this class, he’ll offer actionable insights on developing your concepts and turning your ideas into a compelling and complete script.

Screenwriting: The Art of the First Draft is your opportunity to learn how to conquer one of screenwriting’s greatest challenges and get your ideas developed and down on paper. 

Check out our complete collection of filmmaking classes here

Topics Covered


Lesson Plan

  1. 01

    Why Focus on the First Draft?

    06:42
  2. 02

    Step 1: Overcome Your Fear of Writing

    12:13
  3. 03

    The Importance of a Writing Schedule

    04:26
  4. 04

    Step 2: Choose What Story to Write

    What makes something become a compelling story? It takes more than surveillance camera footage.

    31:51
  5. 05

    What Makes a Compelling Story?

    17:29
  6. 06

    The Protagonist's Journey & Desire

    22:47
  7. 07

    Step 3: Understanding the Three Act Structure

    08:05
  8. 08

    Script Structure: Events Along the Journey

    11:52
  9. 09

    Tools for Shaping Your Script

    20:28
  10. 10

    Step 4: Write Act 1

    21:56
  11. 11

    Step 5: Write Acts 2 & 3

    22:41
  12. 12

    Step 6: How to Generate Conflict

    31:16
  13. 13

    Step 7: Understand Your Character's World

    22:12
  14. 14

    Add Color to the Scene: Dialouge

    14:12
  15. 15

    Flashbacks, Voiceover & Non-linear Scenes

    31:00
  16. 16

    Celebrating the Milestone

    09:51
  17. 17

    How to Get Constructive Feedback

    18:33
  18. 18

    Making Your Elevator Pitch

    21:16

Meet Your Expert

Hal Ackerman

Hal Ackerman has been a faculty member of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television since 1985 and is currently the co-chair of the Screenwriting Program. Among his close mentees are ... read more

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Bonus Material

Access your course materials here!

Get access to exclusive bonus content when you purchase this class.

  • pdf Resource Guide - Script Contests
  • pdf Sample Script Pages
  • pdf Writing Exercises
  • pdf The Godfather Scenogram
  • pdf Character and Writers Objective Diagrams
  • pdf Blank Scenogram

100% of students recommend this class.
See what some of them have to say.

  • fbuser 991773eb

    fbuser 991773eb

    January 2019

    Hal Ackerman is the Man!!! Loved this course and will be watching it again. Mr. Ackerman is one of those people who truly wants to help you get better at your craft. He's encouraging yet realistic about what it takes to write a great screenplay. I highly recommend this interesting and helpful class.

  • user-526c85

    user-526c85

    August 2015

    After taking a number of other screenwriting courses, I can tell you that Hal Ackerman's course, The Art of the First Draft, is the BEST EVER!! His methodology of teaching is fantastic. He takes you on this journey from start to finish in a way that you WILL KNOW how to write a script by the time you finish this course. I liked how he used examples throughout his training to help you better understand screenwriting. If you really want to learn how to be a good screenwriter, then I would highly recommend taking Hal's course. You won't be disappointed.

  • Celeste

    Celeste

    June 2015

    I've read a lot of books on the subject and I've been to a few seminars. Hal Ackerman's class is genuinely one of the best and the most helpful classes I have experienced. What makes the class so great is that every concept has you putting pen to paper or fingers on keyboard right away. Ackerman really has tools that are called to be used. Thanks for the wonderful resource.

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