Screenwriting for Film and Television


FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a list of courses offered by Western State Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the current university catalog at To determined the courses required for your major, check the "Majors and Minors" tab for your area of study.

 CRWR 600 - ORIENTATION (1 credits)

Focus on learning mastery of online tools, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with non-residency mentors during first summer; focus on attending presentations and participating in workshop sessions during second summer; and focus on presenting student thesis as well as attending and participating in other readings during third summer. Must be repeated three times for credit. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.


The primary genre reading course for the first semester of the program. Students study a wide variety of sub-genres, including romantic suspense, historical romance, detective fiction, and thrillers, among others, to build a detailed understanding of the specific tropes and hallmarks of each sub-genre and how to apply them to their own work. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.

 CRWR 610 - Genre Fiction Writing and Reading Survey (6 credits)

A broad genre fiction reading and writing survey course for Out of Concentration students, surveying romance, mystery, speculative fiction, westerns, and young adult category work. Students focus primarily on understanding genre tropes and writing exercises that illuminate them. 

 CRWR 646 - NARRATIVE POETRY (6 credits)

Focus on examination, analysis, study, and writing in the narrative genres and modes of poetry, from the ballad to the epic and novel in verse. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.


Focus on examination, analysis, and discussion of classic and contemporary films from a screenwriting, story, and character development perspective as well as analyses of theme and motif. Students engage in writing activities and exercises to develop a visual narrative style. All such writing goes towards creating material to fuel the mentoring process in upcoming semesters. The main theme here is: when possible show the story element; don't have a character say it. Finally the prevailing three- and four-act screenplay structures will be explored. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.


Focus on workshopping of short screenplays and projects along with exploration of story arc, elements of conflict, character development and arc, with an emphasis on film genre choices and styles. Includes proposals for upcoming mentoring semesters, feature-length screenplays, plus an opportunity to practice pitches. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.


Mock or actual 'pitch' sessions of the thesis screenplay. Screenwriting contests researched and entered. Writers Guild guidelines and application explored. Agents, options to produce, and independent film potential also explored. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.


Focus on challenging students to write filmic stories in three distinct genre categories, forcing a growth and flexibility to create meaning across a spectrum of setting, time, and circumstance. Dialogue is permitted but is de-emphasized in favor of a more visual narrative. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.


Focus on a thorough proposal for both the drama and sitcom is researched and written. The result will be a complete "pitch" portfolio including a "spec" episode teleplay completed for (both or either) a television drama (and/or) a situation comedy. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.


A thorough review of the existing works in the style and genre of the proposed piece, and a thorough treatment written. Students generate character biographies and a complete story outline. The production is 'pitched' to fellow students along with the mentor. A first draft written and critiqued. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.

 CRWR 675 - WRITING THE TV PILOT (6 credits)

Focus on choosing and writing an original TV pilot for either a one-hour drama series, or a half-hour sitcom. In addition to the pilot script, this course requires the students to pitch the idea, come up with marketing materials - i.e. treatment for the series, outline of the pilot, a series "bible", and loglines for at least 4-5 future episodes. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.

 CRWR 678 - ADAPTATION (6 credits)

Focus on taking preexisting source material (books, newspaper articles, videogames, graphic novels etc.) and learn how to begin adapting such into a screenplay. Students examine various forms of adaptation, write a research paper, and write the first act of their own feature adaptation piece. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.


A guided discussion on pedagogy theory and practice with weekly questions on points of interest, suggested readings, and the opportunity for writing teachers and aspiring writing teachers to discuss challenges and insights about the practice of teaching. Prerequisite: Admission to the Program.


Focus on a feature-length screenplay, intended for Hollywood or independent production, proposed including a thorough review of the existing works, treatment, character biographies, and generation of a complete story outline. A first draft of approximately 120 pages written and critiqued. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.


Focus on completion of the screenplay. Several drafts written and developed with the mentor. Following industry preferences, the screenplay should target approximately 100 pages. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.

 CRWR 694 - CAPSTONE - GENRE FICTION (3 credits)

Culmination of the student's education at Western. In consultation with his or her adviser, the student completes a single work of genre fiction OR a collection of shorter genre fiction works (such as short stories or novellas) of publishable quality, suitable for public reading, and for thesis binding. Prerequisite: Admission to the program.

Low-Residency Screenwriting MA / MFA for Film and Television

At Western, we give you a screenwriting education that rivals what you would find in Los Angeles or New York. Our motto is "We bring Hollywood to you," because our faculty are in Hollywood -- but you don't have to be. The low-residency screenwriting format, in which you do the majority of your work on-line and in phone and video class consultation with professors and peers, means that it doesn’t matter where you live during the academic year. Then, each summer in the second half of July, we all gather (along with the faculty and students in the other concentrations) on Western's beautiful campus in the heart of the Colorado Rockies for two weeks of intense workshops, seminars, lectures and more.

Concentration Director JS Mayank and Professor Bob Shayne are successful screenwriters working in both TV and film, actively developing projects with major networks, studios and production companies, and you will work with them every week, no matter where you are. The low-residency format enables aspiring screenwriters to live anywhere yet reap the benefits of Hollywood contact.

Our curriculum covers every aspect of the industry. It is practical, sophisticated and rigorous, teaching the craft of screenwriting in all the major genres (Action/Thriller/Sci-fi/Horror/Rom-com/Comedy). We also offer classes in the history and analysis of classical and contemporary screenwriting texts and the resulting films. The low-residency format uses of Blackboard, a powerful online platform that enables everything from live classes to text exchange, discussion boards, blogs, online peer editing, posting of clips and more.

Screenwriting Faculty
The program further includes broader technical instruction in screenwriting the visual narrative, three- and four-act structure, character development, thematic development, conflict, specific genres, story arc, and dialogue for both the feature-length screenplay and television. Students even take a pedagogy course to learn to apply strategies and techniques for the effective teaching of creative writing. We guide you through developing and writing your first feature and emphasize the basics of adaptation. Because this is the golden age of television, the curriculum covers writing both specs and original pilots for TV (one-hour drama & half-hour comedy). We also study the business -- how to get representation, the etiquette of pitching, how to take Hollywood meetings, and much more.

You will graduate knowing both the art and the craft of writing for the screen, and you will have a diverse portfolio of works which includes short scripts, features, TV spec episodes, pilots, and several original pitches — all created under the guidance of working professionals. 

If you want to be a screenwriter, but are not quite ready to make the leap to Los Angeles of New York, ours is the program to consider. You bring the talent: we’ll provide you with the skills, the confidence and the material to take on Hollywood.


MA/MFA Screenwriting Scholarships: The Screenwriting Concentration is currently offering one $10,000/yr. scholarships for a new full-time student who enrolls in summer 2017. The scholarship is for up to two years, at the same amount each year. Click here for the Scholarship Application and information.

Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Application Information

Faculty & Staff


Graduate Program in Creative Writing Faculty
BA University of Pennsylvania, MFA University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts
Office Location:
JS Mayank
Director of Screenwriting Concentration
BA, University of Delhi; MA, Wake Forest University; MFA, Loyola Marymount University;
Office Location:
Bob Shayne
Graduate Program in Creative Writing Faculty
MFA, Spalding University;
Phone: 970.943.2025
Office Location: