Types of Creative Writing: Intro to Playwriting and Screenwriting

Instructor: Y York

Email: yyork@hawaii.edu


Creative philosophy: It is my belief that what is unknown to the author is best revealed through writing. That which is consciously unavailable becomes tangible and useful by exploration through writing.   The writer sifts through the ore of knowledge, discarding the dust while seeking the gold.


Class structure and requests: In-class writing explorations are focused on generating the information the writer needs to complete the play. All exercises are modeled and explained. It is my intension to provide a process whereby the writer can explore the play into existence, while honoring the point-of-view and unique life experience of each individual writer. You will never have to share writing that you generate in class. You will always be told of the possibility of sharing writing that you generate at home. All turned-in assignments are typed and hardcopy. All cellphones must be turned off and put away. All internet access must be turned off. You may use a laptop or tablet or pencil and paper for in-class writing. No recording allowed. When we begin to read your work, bring in enough copies for students to share as you read.



The semester begins with playwriting. Students will use exercises to generate character- specifics and story elements and subsequently transform this information into character-specific dialogue in dramatic scenes. All exercises are modeled and explained. The first five weeks of class include much in-class writing; subsequent classes include lectures but are primarily devoted to reading and critiquing student work. Students are expected to participate and aid in critiques. Students will read several plays that reveal different structural possibilities. There will be no direct address in student work. (Characters talk to one another, not to the audience.)



Writing for the visual medium. How to turn character traits into observable behavior. Students will familiarize themselves with several screenplays in order to discuss the three-act structure and filmic reveals. Students will generate the treatment of their whole story, opening image, character-based opening scene, and the first act of their screenplay.




Playwriting: Othello, Shakespeare; TopDog/Underdog, Suzan-Lori Parks, Dramatists Play Service

PDFs provided: Hedda Gabler by Ibsen; Woof, Framed, Bleachers in the Sun all by instructor.

Screenwriting: Three Screenplays by Richard Price (includes Sea of Love) available used online. PDFs provided: Lars; Alligators from Shoes, Watcher of Waipuna; The Water People.


Primary Requirements


Playwriting: complete the first act of a full-length play

Screenwriting: Complete the first act of a screenplay and a treatment for its completion.

Active participation.