The concept of writing is very significant to the overall creation of cinema and media. In fact, it is where the idea that is later transformed into onscreen performances take root. Writing for cinema and media is, however, a different type of writing. It requires an altogether different process than what is needed to write an essay, poem, or novel. It seeks to give the story a visual expression where all the action, movement, dialogue, and expression. In this course, students will learn the art of storytelling in different dimensions and how to turn creative ideas into commercially viable stories that can be transformed on screen.
Writing has always played a dominant role in literature. In fact, for years, writing was considered literature. However, with the development of theatre, other forms of literature also emerged. In the 21st century, an age where attention span decreases by the minute and more people would rather watch a two-hour screenplay adaptation than read a 450-page novel of the same story; film studies have become the new English degree (Chapman University). It has become our literature, the mode through which we narrate our stories and ask existential questions that were once confined to the pages of books.
However, the proliferation of the industry has led to the creation of millions of below-par works. The first way to correct this is by preventing below-par writing. This is what film studies seek to change by engaging students in scholarly and analytical discussions that will challenge their already formed perceptions regarding writing and how it influences the cinema.
For anyone seeking to pursue a career as a screenwriter or even filmmaker, this course represents an opportunity to learn from professionals about screenwriting and filmmaking evolution in general. This means acquiring an in-depth understanding of cinematic storytelling, visual aesthetics, Art of storytelling, and writing for the screen.
When it comes to films and cinemas, writing formats vary based on the genre of film or cinema that you are exploring. These diverse genres include web series, animations, TV Drama, Sitcom, Documentary, Reality TV, etc. What differentiates the writing style of each of these formats is the structure of the writing as well as the formatting. The writing format focuses heavily on structure and pattern. Understanding this is crucial to creating the visual scenario you actually want, and the best way to achieve this is through close reading and studying of literature to see how the structure and pattern interact to create a form that reinforces the content.
It is generally said that the act of writing starts with reading (Harvard College). While most people consider this to be a cliché, it is only a cliché because the statement has established its truism over the years. In order to write perfectly, it is first necessary to study what has been written in the past. The best way to do this is through close reading. Close reading uses an inductive approach where specific details of the text are observed. These details usually stand out, such as a repeated image, a contradiction, unexpected development, etc. Such details are striking in their appearance and raise questions or give room for further examination. It is these details, no matter how simple they may appear, that guide the writing process and help to form the basis of any paper.
There are different types of English papers that a student may have to write, depending on the motive of such paper and the instructor. Some papers come with guidelines on what to write and how to write it. Others barely have guidelines except for the page limit. While the former appears a little simple, approaching the latter can be difficult. However, writing is all about having the resources you have, and the best way to gather these resources is through close reading and paying attention in lectures. With the ideas acquired through close reading and questions or claims gathered from lectures, you can use your paper to give a well-detailed analysis of an idea or to explain and argue a question or claim.
There are various examples of papers that you may have to write. The common ones include close reading of a single text, theoretically informed close reading, response paper, historically informed close reading, research paper, and the comparison of two texts. Each of them has their standard writing guidelines, which would be further discussed below.
A close reading of a single text: Here, the length of the work will determine what you choose to analyze. For instance, while it is possible to analyze a whole poem, such detail is unlikely in a novel.
Theoretically informed close reading: This analysis is based on a theory. Thus, you must focus only on details that correspond or corroborate the theory.
Response papers: This gives you the chance to use your close reading skills to investigate a particular detail in a text instead of arguing and providing solutions.
Comparison of two texts: This focuses on unexpected differences and similarities that exist between two obviously similar or dissimilar texts as the case may be. It could also be on the influence or revision if one text on the other.
Research paper: This is a more extensive analysis usually done with guidelines and close reading and consultation outside the assigned readings.
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