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What is a Screenwriter?

As the word itself implies, screenwriters craft a story through words which serve as instructions for how it will come to life on the screen. Whether for cinema, television or the web, screenwriting provides a script or blueprint that forms the core of a project.


As with most writing, the most important lesson for any screenwriter is the practice of showing, not telling. In film schools, screenwriting courses will entail assignments that require students to write a script with no dialogue.

For the screenwriter the notion that actions speak louder than words is something to live by. Though many movies feature snappy conversation or highly dramatic verbal confrontations, even screenwriters with a flair for dialogue must enhance a story through the characters’ actions.


Screenwriting is an artistic medium, even in rigid forms of video games, documentary filmmaking, commercials, informational and instructional video productions. With such a diversity of media, the playing field for screenwriters is actually quite vast.

Screenwriting jobs may include contracts for feature films, rewriting or script doctoring for existing productions and acquiring staff positions with production companies.

Writers might also sell what the industry calls speculative screenplays, which are original screenplays sold on the open market rather than being commissioned by a studio. Whether or not scripts actually get filmed depends on a long chain of decisions and the famous green light of production.

Screenwriters may work several jobs, creating and selling several written works that may or may not be filmed. If the projects do get put on the big screen, video or television they will become registered works in the Writers Guild of America (WGA). This union of screenwriters is something any professional will become familiar with.

However, at the start, screenwriters must be familiar most of all with imagination, creativity and an ability to clearly express ideas through moving pictures.

Start Toward Your Future as a Screenwriter

Academy of Art University's School of Motion Pictures & Television | Acting offers accredited Associates (AA), Bachelors (BFA) and Masters (MFA) degrees in Acting, Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting.

Through classes online and in San Francisco, students gain hands-on experience in the field. Instructors, who are also working in the industry, share valuable experience and insight. Each year, Academy of Art University’s Epidemic Film Festival brings together students and creative professionals at a star-studded awards ceremony for student films.

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