June 21, 2016
A passion for creative writing is more than a deciding factor in choosing your degree path - it's a calling. Whether it's the satisfaction of a well-crafted plot, the allure of building another world or the process of creating characters' motives and dialogue, it's the love of storytelling that drives you. If your creative writing interests have you leaning toward adapting existing stories or crafting a dynamic tale of your own, screenwriting courses can help you achieve your goals. If you've ever read a book with dynamic visuals written into the story, or if you have an original plot and cast of characters of your own that you'd love to see fleshed out, you may be interested in learning more about entering a degree program that prepares you for becoming a skilled screenwriter.
A storyteller has multiple mediums to choose from. For those who are drawn to the narratives we see on screen big or small, a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English with a concentration in Screenwriting is a path that prepares you for a career as a screenwriter. Courses through Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in the creative writing program include screenwriting workshops that give writers the opportunity to sharpen their skills. By exploring the possibilities for your writing and learning how to give and receive constructive feedback on scripts, the screenwriting courses at SNHU provide you with the skills you need to be a successful storyteller.
Pursuing a degree in creative writing opens up opportunities for you to explore the world of storytelling. Whether you're interested in creating content for new media, writing novels, poems, or shorter works, a BA in Creative Writing and English gives you a strong foundation for whatever direction you want your career to take. SNHU takes a creative writing degree to a new level, offering concentrations in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and screenwriting. Courses in these concentrations are structured to provide focus and give you as a writer the opportunity to do just that - write. Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing student Antoinette Hayes chose a concentration in screenwriting and said she felt she was being cultivated into her writing career through the SNHU curriculum. The screenwriting concentration at SNHU is designed to not only give students the background they need in language arts and humanities, but also to strengthen the skills needed to construct narratives that are dynamic and compelling for audiences. Screenwriting courses at SNHU aren't lectures that leave you wondering if what you're writing works; they are active workshops that give you the opportunity to show others your screenplays so you can receive valuable feedback.
The classes in the creative writing degree program at SNHU strive to give students a strong foundation in language, literature and the arts. Students seeking a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English will take courses in the humanities, study Shakespeare and literary theory, read and analyze literature and learn about new media - an important course that teaches you how to market yourself by helping you build your brand and social media platforms. If you're just starting your pursuit of a bachelor's degree, these courses help you build a skill set and introduce you to the cornerstones of storytelling and writing. If you're continuing your education after a break from school or making a career change, these courses are a refresher to reinforce the skills and knowledge you may already have.
One student with previous writing experience who decided to explore a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English with a concentration in Screenwriting is Victoria Nye. Already accomplished with a screenplay that made it to the top 50 out of over 2,000 scripts submitted to Amazon Studios' first ever screenwriter's competition, Nye decided she wanted to pursue a degree in screenwriting. Her reasoning behind her decision to get a degree with a screenwriting concentration was simple - she wanted a strong educational background in the craft to support her general knowledge and established skills. "I looked further into the courses available and the school's history, and I found myself really wanting to give this a shot," Nye said. "I couldn't have picked a better university."
With a degree concentration in screenwriting, you'll participate in specific workshops that allow you to explore ideas and make necessary changes to your writing in an effort to perfect your script and achieve your goals. The screenwriting courses at SNHU give you the opportunity to write screenplays of various lengths, working up from shorter scenes to longer scripts.
To put your screenwriting courses to good use while still a student, there are journals at SNHU that you can submit your work to for publication consideration. The Penmen Review is a creative writing journal that accepts submissions throughout the year and spotlights writers across genres. Sending your work in for possible publication is a great way for you to experience the submission process and gives you the opportunity to potentially see your work online or in print.
As with any craft, you never stop learning as a writer, whether it's about your own writing style or how you observe the world around you. Currently working on her master's degree in creative writing after completing her bachelor's degree with a concentration in screenwriting in 2014 through SNHU, Laurie Smith is a writer who found growth through the screenwriting courses in the university's creative writing program. Always a storyteller, Smith is a film-lover who didn't immediately start out penning scripts. A stint in secretarial school ended when Smith's parents found out she was skipping class to go to the movies, sometimes attending multiple showings in a single day. Smith moved on from a school where she didn't fit in to pursue a higher education and a career that was more her style.
Smith initially thought that an associate's degree would suffice. Despite doing well as a writer and editor, Smith said "there was always something missing." She would still go to the movies and watch the same film again and again, and admits to watching the first Star Wars film 46 times in-theater. Despite her obvious love for movies, it wasn't until attending the Phoenix Film Festival about ten years ago that her love of film translated into the idea of a potential career in screenwriting. Writing for the film festival's website as well as meeting, interviewing and befriending filmmakers awakened something in Smith. "The freedom of writing a script for an indie film totally appealed to me," Smith said. The experience inspired her to return to school and focus on screenwriting.
As Smith worked through the creative writing degree program at SNHU, her educational goals changed. Earning her degree wasn't just about having additional education to put on her resume - it was about the learning experience and achieving her professional goals. "I became obsessed with learning as much as I possibly could about screenwriting and the film business," Smith said, "and I wanted to finish a feature-length screenplay. By the time I graduated, my script was complete."
Since finishing her first script, Smith has submitted it to festivals and competitions, and has even begun working on two other scripts. Smith said she had a little difficulty as a professional writer going into the workshop roundtables. "Once I decided to let go of the ego and actually listen to the feedback ... I realized the true value of constructive critique." While workshopping her screenplays, Smith came to realize that "part of the purpose of peer feedback is to learn how to filter through and get what you need and want to take away from it."
Making the switch from journalistic writing in her work to scripting dialogue and story as she wrote screenplays seemed pretty daunting in terms of changing how she presented stories to her audience. Smith said that "working toward a goal of any kind leads you to goals you didn't even realize were a possibility," and found she loved constructing dialogue and interpreting peoples' stories. After she began paying attention to the dialogue and lives of the people that surrounded her every day on trains, at work, and in airport bars, Smith noticed her writing was flowing more naturally. Her observations improved the work she was producing in her workshops. "As a writer, you are often the conduit of these stories that surround you every day," she said.
In her current career as a screenwriter, Smith still draws from the things she learned while taking her screenwriting courses at SNHU. She believes that the peer feedback in the workshops has taught her to be open to the ideas of others, not take herself so seriously, and to take risks. The journey to becoming a screenwriter is as unique as each writer, but all paths require the same foundation. "If I had any advice to offer, it would be to learn the basics," Smith said. "Learn grammar, proper punctuation and good sentence structure. Learn the rules - then break the hell out of them. You cannot break rules if you don't know what they are first."
Writing is a competitive field with thousands of storytellers penning just as many stories. The median annual wage for writers in 2015 was just over $60,000, and the motion picture and video industry is one of the industries with the highest levels and highest concentrations of employment for writers.* With inspired ideas and exceptional writing skills fortified by an education focused in screenwriting, you will be better equipped to stand out amongst the competition and achieve your goals.
Education and experience undoubtedly increases the quality and value of your work, and Smith's experience has been no exception. Smith said that receiving her bachelor's degree in 2014 resulted in professional recognition. Because she is now pursuing her master's degree in creative writing with a concentration in screenwriting, Smith was asked to take part in a new project that involves writing and editing course curriculum.
Like many of SNHU's students, Andrew Guilde had scheduling issues and personal circumstances that weren't conducive to attending university full-time, but found a home with SNHU's online degree program for creative writing. "What SNHU has given me is the freedom to pursue a real college education on my own time without compromising my work," Guilde said. "Enrolling at SNHU has been one of the smartest decisions I've ever made." Being able to balance work and school is a deciding factor for most non-traditional students. The online degree program at SNHU fulfills the needs of students like you who are trying to find a way to accomplish their educational goals and be better equipped to fulfill their career ambitions while still being able to maintain their home situation.
Hazel Jones, another creative writing student who has chosen to take screenwriting courses at SNHU, found the course schedule helped her achieve her goals and stay on target. "I think that SNHU has really helped me get back on track when it comes to school, and I appreciate all the teachers who have taken the time to give me feedback and who have helped me in my school career," Jones said.
Your learning experience affects how you feel about higher education, and whether or not earning your degree feels like something you can accomplish. Selecting SNHU as your university for a degree ensures a flexible environment with a wide range of faculty and staff there to help you achieve your goals. From your general requirements to your screenwriting courses, earning your online creative writing degree with SNHU is not only a big step for your education, but also a place to hone your craft at your own pace.
Many of SNHU's students select the online learning program for the freedom afforded to accomplish their personal and professional goals while still maintaining balance in their lives. Whether you're on course to finish your bachelor's degree a year early to get a jump on your master's or plan on taking a few extra years to finish your degree while you're working full time, SNHU can facilitate an educational environment that works for you.
Creative writing student Antoinette Hayes summed up her experience in SNHU's screenwriting program when she said, "Success lives within me, and it is fun pulling out hidden potentials." Being a writer is something that is inside of you, a force of ingenuity and imagination that is as much a part of you as the works that you put out into the world. Your creativity brings characters and entire worlds to life. As a degree-seeking creative writing student, the screenwriting courses you take provide you with tools that you'll use throughout your writing career.
Are you looking forward to being part of a writing team? Hoping to get a screenplay you've written picked up for production? Maybe you have been wanting to pen the script for a role-playing video game that will change the way stories are told in the gaming world. Whatever path you're looking to take your writing career, the first step in achieving your goals is a bachelor's degree in creative writing with a concentration in screenwriting. SNHU gives you support and the tools to become proficient in your craft - you put your skills to use to make your writing aspirations a reality.
*Job market data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook is intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities and is not to be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. SNHU cannot guarantee employment.
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It is with great pleasure that Southern New Hampshire University recognizes the following students’ academic achievement in being named to the President’s and Dean’s List for the Fall 2016 semester.