Laney College

Week 3 Notes – 2/3/15

Week 3 Notes – 2/3/15

The class did an exercise that emphasized the importance of listening and the importance of showing, rather than telling, who each character is.  Each of us introduced ourselves, by name only, and the class commented on what characteristics we have already picked up on — e.g., shy, outgoing, determined, hard-working, confident,   You, as a writer, may know that your character is shy and studious, you need to show it, visually.

The class reviewed a collection of terms that are important for screenwriters to understand (see homework assignment, below.)

We watched and discussed a documentary, “The Great Dictator,” a 1940 (pre-WWII) satirical movie written, produced and directed by Charlie Chaplin.  The class also watched and discussed the entire final speech of the movie:


Charlie Chaplin – Politically and socially engaged cinema. Silent cinema – SHOW don’t TELL, Describes social injustice of his surroundings, helps us feel for the underdog, outcast. When talking pictures took over cinema, most silent stars’ careers ended. Chaplin was weary of introducing dialogue.

Clips from Chaplin’s career:
a. The Immigrant
b. The Tramp
c. City Lights Part 1 (this connects to parts 2-4)
d. City Lights: Full Documentary
e. Modern Times
f. Modern Times Factory Scene
g. Documentary about Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator

Journal Assignment — Due 2/17:

Write (handwritten — not typed) a 20-page journal, using reasonably-sized pages and spacing.  This journal is to be an exercise/tool that helps you to write without judging your work as you go along, which can stifle creativity.  “Don’t judge — just do it” is an atttitude that can help get through periods of “writer’s block.”   Your journal can contain just about anything — stream of consciousness, thoughts, ideas, or even diagrams and collages (e.g., demonstrating how characters relate to each other.)  Another idea is documenting a Q&A session with someone.   Yet another idea is to capture a rant on a topic that interests you.

  • Noemi will not read your journal.
  • Include the words “WAKE UP!” as your “magical words  on every page of your journal.  This will show that you actually wrote the material in your journal but, more importantly, can serve as a spark for ideas.  You do not have to use the magical words “WAKE UP!” in complete sentences, although that would be nice.  Just be sure that it is written on every page.

Your journal is a place to be free and document anything that might help you to capture your story.

Precious  (Be careful to differentiate between page numbers and scene numbers.  i.e., Scene 58 is on page 51.)

Screenwriting Terms Assignment — Due Week 4 Define each of the terms in the

Turning points (Twists,  Plot Points) –


Catalyst (aka Inciting Incident, Catalytic Event) –

Big Event



Showdown (aka Climax) –



Central Character (aka Pivotal Character, Protagonist) –

Primary Opposition Character (Antagonist) –

Central Dramatic Question


Denouement (aka Resolution) –


Plot –


Back Story


Unity of Opposites

Character Goal (aka Objective)– p 33 – 39

Character Need

Character Flaw

Outside/Action Story (“A” Story) –

Inside/Emotional Story (“B” Story) –



Theme –