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Publisher's Summary

Whether you want to write your own scripts or simply gain a deeper appreciation for the great stories you see unfold on the screen, Professor Angus Fletcher is here to show you the way in Screenwriting 101: Mastering the Art of Story. Professor Fletcher, Professor of English and Film at The Ohio State University, brings both a personal and scholarly perspective to this craft. As a screenwriter himself, he has experienced the ins and outs of the process first-hand. And as a key faculty member in Project Narrative, a think tank devoted to using cognitive science to study the effects of stories on the human mind, Professor Fletcher offers unique insight into storytelling from both a neuroscientific and a literary perspective.

Despite what you may have been told, writing a great script is not about formulas and three-act structure. Great scripts - great stories - are those that create the desired emotional response in audiences, something that can only be achieved by knowing which methods are most effective and how they suit the story you want to tell. As you study the work of over a dozen great screenwriters and several television shows, each story you encounter will use different tools to achieve a variety of psychological and emotional responses. From the redemption arc of the Western Unforgiven to the romantic longing of Annie Hall, each story offers invaluable insights you can bring to your own writing - and viewing - experiences.

There is no cookie-cutter formula for writing scripts and no checklist for what makes a film or television show great. What Screenwriting 101 offers instead is an infinitely flexible storytelling tool that has worked for the greats - from Euripides to Shakespeare to Pixar - and a selection of resources to show you how to put it to use. How you decide to use these limitless creative possibilities is up to you.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC; 2017 The Great Courses

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What listeners say about Screenwriting 101: Mastering the Art of Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Screenwriting 101 - Angus Fletcher

I have read at least 30 books on the craft of screenwriting. This is by far the BEST there is hands down. Wish I had this 4 years ago when I started.

33 people found this helpful

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it's great

the lecture is well narrated and offers more than a dozen excellent plot analysis. It's only weak point is it's repetative style, though it may just be me.

The prof. makes his point in the first third of the courseand the rest is emphasizing this method in a myriad of examples.

It wasn't the best Great Course I've listened to but it's in the top 5.

25 people found this helpful

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Nauseating.

I'm a screenwriter and I know many professional screenwriters. This is not a book for aspiring screenwriters or active ones. If you loved Cassablanca you'll hate the way Fletcher turns a classic into a math problem. No writer I know knowingly "reverse engineers" the plot to create the best "cognitive effect." They write stories. This book is for students, not writers. But even students would expect at least a little magic with the math. Nothing to see here. Just a dude who thinks he cracked the code and wants to sell a math book because it's easier than selling a screenplay.

23 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Unexpected exercises

This ends every chapter with exercises. That's a great thing. Buuuut... I listen while I drive, which I happen to do for a living. So I can't say anything about how good or bad they are.
The rest was pretty good. He breaks down 12 or so classic screenplays. Well done.

20 people found this helpful

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best class

who knew that Toy Story had ties to Hamlet or that Pulp Fiction is so deep. this couese helps you discover that. The professor tells you up front that even if you don't want to write scripts you will come away witb a deeper understanding of storytelling. I did. this course makes me want to go back and watch Unforgiven again, Casablanca, and Game of Thrones. Highly recommend this course for storytellers and those who appreciate good stories. If you don't appreciate a good story, you will after this.

19 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

A Mixed Bag of Not Much

The title of this course is misleading, to say the least, as it is not about "mastering the art of story", but about "reverse engineering what successful screen-writings look like".
Just because a screen-writing has been successful at the box office does not tell you that it is GOOD. It only tells you that the movie, as a whole, has been a success. The author confuses commercial success with quality.

The course is centered on the technique of reverse engineering: Looking at a movie or script and backward-explaining how it may have been constructed in order to create what you see. Of course, this is NOT how (successful) scripts are being created (if it was, every single script that was constructed this way would be an equal success, which it is not). It is simply a cheap trick of killing time in a workshop (been there, done that!) if you don't have any original ideas.
That said, it is a good idea to DO reverse engineering every now and then! Understanding how others managed to create certain feelings in the audience or how characters can be built is helpful when you are just starting out with writing. And, no doubt, a lot of scripts out there are being manufactured this way: Just redo what was successful before. Luckily every now and then someone dares to think for herself and try something else - luckily, because else this course would have had to concentrate on a single script that had been copied over and over, right? :-)

In short, the content is GOOD if you never dissected a script before. The content is FINE if you never watched a movie "analytically", trying to grasp "how they did it" (how did they fascinate you?). The content is COOL if you don't have any ideas (or experience in life) of your own but want to rely on other people's recipes.
If you want to "master the art of story" - visit other places. Read books. Listen to story-tellers. Understand, how STORIES work (not how movies are successful at the box office). Different topic altogether, really.

Performance: Whenever someone starts to yell at me, my reaction is "oh, is she THAT uncertain of her arguments? Is she so afraid that she might be wrong - so that yelling and shouting at me makes her more confident?" The lecturer here is constantly yelling and pushing his perspective as if he was afraid that a single voice in the audience might say "erm, Sir, that's not quite believeable what you say ..."
Interestingly the lecturer calms down and switched into a confident, narrative voice when he talks about the course as such (one single lecture!) - he is also much calmer when he (unconsciously?) questions his theory and method (in the TV/Series lectures at the end). I found that observation quite intriguing.

One can have quite different opinions on how "the Classics" (the Greek dramas) worked and how "drama" and "comedy" where perceived or considered when they were written. I happen to HAVE such a different perspective and question the author's understanding of the historic meaning of theatre.

By the way ... the name is "Brecht" (talking about the German theatre writer), not "Bragged", as the lecturer keeps calling him.

15 people found this helpful

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This is why movies out now suck...

I really wanted to enjoy this course because I am a huge fan of the great course. This one though, is not worth it. The main thing covered here is “reverse engineering” a.k.a copying... It basically tells you to watch for favorite movie then go mimic it. Nothing original is really is told here. I don’t even feel that the ideas covered were even fully understood before they were taught. Angus’s take on the Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey could not be more wrong. Even his Pulp Fiction section is completely off. Just YouTube Quentin Tarantino talking about his writing process. Angus is not even close to understanding the ideas and concepts in that script. I honestly learned more from listening to Quentin talk about writing then from this course.
!!Purchase this with cation!!

8 people found this helpful

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Worst screenwriting "expert" ever

A self-professed expert in screenwriting, who manages to get Hamlet wrong, has me beat. Also, the book is not a book, but a series of very bad lectures, seemingly created to push the author's own product, rather than to actually teach writing.

7 people found this helpful

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loved it!

This was very enjoyable and informative, will listen again. There shouldn't be a minimum amount of words you have to use in your review.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book for screenplay beginners.

loved the details it gave on the writing process and the breakdown on how to get started. Finished the audiobook and wrote a short script right after.

7 people found this helpful

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  • ian
  • 02-12-19

Fascinating! One of the best

One of the best things I have listened to on screenwriting. An absolutely fascinating perspective on how to write screenplays. Doesn't dwell on inciting incidents, or 3 act structure, turns, etc. Instead, it focuses on the end goal, the end cognitive goal of the script, and how various scripts like Pulp Fiction, Unforgiven, Fargo, get there. Some may find the repetition irritating, in how it starts the breakdown of each script, but this is a paltry whine. A great buy!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Srjane
  • 11-16-18

Inspirational- will keep it by me for reference

This book works on many levels, there is analysis of films (some I’ve seen and some not), tools and techniques. It is not for the faint hearted either. There are exercises to do which are difficult to do if listening on audible, but will be useful if you can manage.

I watch films and soaps etc with new insights which, to some extent, has stopped some of the surprise and enjoyment but is the price to pay to join a successful screenwriters club.

You can also use the majority of the course to improve any writing and to engage the reader. Good job

8 people found this helpful

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  • Kieran McLoughlin
  • 08-26-20

One of the best series on storytelling

Not what I was expecting, but in a brilliant way. What I originally expected was a bare bones breakdown into how to write a screenplay. Instead, what I got was a comprehensive breakdown on how to tell stories, and how films and TV do this. Truly, it was an insightful and throughly fascinating account on how to dissect stories and how to write them like the best. Absolutely recommend this course, regardless of what kind of writer you are. It will absolutely help you jump to the next level.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chris Boland
  • 08-18-20

One of the best things I've listened to.

This really is an absolute masterclass in scriptwriting. It's constantly insightful and inspiring. I'm sure I'll listen to this again.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-14-20

Too much unnecessary waffle.

Most chapters could have been halved or even a quarter of the length, if the author removed to waffle and got to the point quicker. On purchasing the book I was excited to have such an extensive course to begin but, within a few chapters, I sadly realised that it is so long because it is poorly written.

If you like long meandering listens that feel like the author just likes to go on and on about quite basic and obvious points then this might be for you.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-26-21

Great course

lots of brilliant information. Mr fletcher obviously knows his stuff. Course can also apply to playwrighting and storytelling.

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  • Mr. R. D. Cox
  • 02-24-21

A great method

A great method and process for understanding and creating stories. Will definitely read again soon.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • 05-05-18

Learn about life, love & story on-screen!

This is a gem of a course for anyone who likes literature, film or TV. Learn not only about the craft of screenwriting, but also dive deep into iconic scripts to deepen your appreciation of their stories. While at times Prof Fletcher unnecessarily trivialises screenwriting "blueprints", he does so out of a motivation to make the subject accessible and less daunting. For me, it took 2 or 3 returns to the series to complete it, but now that I've done so, I'm glad I persevered to the end!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-28-22

A fantastic, deep dive into the mechanics of screenwriting ✨

This course was delivered in a simple, structured way and was diverse in its approach to the many genres and styles of writing for the screen. All of the popular scripts discussed were award winning, I had seen many of the films / tv shows which created a quickly immersive experience.

This course was a ‘must do’ for any budding screenwriter ✅.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BillionaireManzi
  • 02-11-21

Fantastic

I began with, "I can't touch this course" to "Looks interesting" to "Let me try it out" to "I'm glad I did." Well worth the time and Credit

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • miso121
  • 06-21-18

Quality of recording is bad

The recording keeps jumping, cutting out and stuttering throughout the book. This makes it difficult to focus on the content which is pretty good.

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