If you’re looking for the best online screenwriting classes of 2021, this article is here to help.
With no shortage of screenwriting classes online, it can be hard to know where to begin when choosing the right course for you.
In fact, there’s a range of factors to consider when deciding which online screenwriting course is the best fit. This includes teachers’ specialities, target audience, and more.
So, that’s why we’ve pulled together this list for the best online screenwriting classes of 2021.
In this article, we’ve considered different types of teaching styles as well as each course’s focus — whether it be writing for different mediums, character development, script-writing basics, and more. We’ve also taken into account other course aspects like price, value for money, and skill level.
With that being said, let’s get started!
What is the best online screenwriting course?
In sum, these are our picks for the 10 best online screenwriting classes:
- Aaron Sorkin teaches Screenwriting (MasterClass)
- Shonda Rhimes teaches Writing for Television (MasterClass)
- Inspirational Screenwriting: The #1 Screenwriting course (Udemy)
- Screenwriting and Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys (Udemy)
- Micro-Budget Filmmaking: Screenwriting (Skillshare)
- Learn to write Movies: Screenwriting step by step (Skillshare)
- Script writing: Basics and Tips: How to Write a Movie Script: Screenwriting for beginners (Skillshare)
- Beginning Screenwriting Made Easy (Udemy)
- Screenwriting masterclass: A Complete guide to Screenwriting (Skillshare)
- Screenwriting for beginners (Udemy)
Our top recommendation is MasterClass. This is because with MasterClass membership you can take any or all of the MasterClass courses. Where screenwriting is concerned, this includes Shonda Rhimes’ and Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClasses.
Overall, MasterClass designs these classes with all skill levels in mind. As well as this, the production values and celebrity teaching is unrivalled.
Plus, you also get access to over 100 other MasterClasses — all taught by leading experts in their fields. Beyond screenwriting, you can learn adventure photography from Jimmy Chin, magic from Penn and Teller, and directing from Ron Howard (plus many, many more).
In fact, the pricing structure means that the more courses you take, the better value you get. So, this can be a very cheap way to learn from the world’s best. Also, MasterClass has a refund policy, which reduces your risk of losing money if you don’t enjoy it. You can find out more at MasterClass.com.
Alternatives to MasterClass include Udemy, which offers individually-priced classes, and SkillShare, which is a member-based platform. So it’s worth checking out the courses available before deciding which platform is for you.
If you’re interested in taking a standalone course rather than many, we recommend Udemy’s Inspirational Screenwriting class.
Read our mini reviews below to get the full details!
Best online screenwriting course reviews
1) Aaron Sorkin teaches Screenwriting (MasterClass)
Platform: MasterClass | Teacher: Aaron Sorkin | Course length: 35 lessons totalling 7 hours and 58 minutes
Aaron Sorkin is an Oscar-winning screenwriter best known for his work on The West Wing and The Social Network. In his first ever MasterClass, he teaches screenwriting for both TV and feature films. As one of America’s most prolific screenwriters, he’s well-versed in the world of drama. So, in this MasterClass, Sorkin covers a lot of material and this will definitely be a plus if you’re looking for a more in-depth screenwriting course!
You’ll learn to:
- Create compelling story arcs
- Exercise strong writing habits
- Write and link scenes
- Craft captivating dialogue
- Approach rewrites and edits
- Learn from a proclaimed screenwriter
- Understand the rules of drama
- View strong case studies
- No 1-1 teaching
- Heavy focus on workshops
Who it’s for: fans of Aaron Sorkin and people who are serious about improving their screenwriting.
Student feedback: “I love the practical example Aaron uses of how he developed The Social Network. It makes the content relatable.” — Comment from the MasterClass community
Overall: For anyone with a screenplay in the back of their mind, Sorkin’s MasterClass is a great opportunity to help you start writing. Moreover, he’s a motivating instructor throughout and it’s great that he included case studies and workshops.
2) Shonda Rhimes teaches Writing for Television (MasterClass)
Platform: MasterClass | Teacher: Shonda Rhimes | Course length: 30 lessons totalling 6 hours and 15 minutes
Shonda Rhimes is an American TV and film writer best known for her medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy. As a result, she’s made a name for herself in network TV production.
In the Shonda Rhimes MasterClass, you get the chance to learn from Rhimes herself.
With this in mind, Rhimes takes you through her career journey and teaches you how to master script-writing, character design, and more.
You’ll learn to:
- Analyze TV to become a better writer
- Find and grow compelling ideas
- Effectively research for your story
- Create memorable characters
- Successfully pitch your show
- Learn from a successful TV writer
- Excellent resources for further study
- Varied and interesting content
- Not always the best teacher
- Often case study-specific
Who it’s for: Writers who are looking to pitch their scripts/progress in TV-writing and gain insight into life as a TV writer for network television. Also, this MasterClass teaches you how to write pitches, adapt to the writers’ room, create a writing routine, and break into the industry.
Student feedback: “I’ve been wanting to make an online TV series for a few months now, and I know it’s a long term project. After seeing a MasterClass ad on YouTube. I had to look into it, and I’m glad I did. This course is really interesting and I look forward to watching more of it!” — Comment from the MasterClass community
Overall: If you’re a fan of Shonda Rhimes, or are serious about breaking into TV-writing professionally, I think this course is a must-watch. On top of this, Rhimes teaches you about the different careers available in TV production and how to get your foot in the door.
3) Inspirational Screenwriting: The #1 Screenwriting Course (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Paul Castro | Course length: 26 lessons totalling 2 hours and 52 minutes
Paul Castro is an American screenwriter best known for writing the screenplay to August Rush. As well as this, he’s an educator specializing in screenwriting courses at UCLA. Castro has also written the 2018 crime drama Speed Kills and the TV movie, Wedding of Dreams. So, it’s safe to say Castro knows a thing or two about screenwriting!
You’ll learn to:
- Develop plots for the big screen
- Use scenes to evoke suspense
- Bring your movie to life through strong characters
- Use imagery in your work
- Learn from an established Hollywood screenwriter
- A natural teacher
- Ideal for beginners
- Technical terms not always explained
- Could use more examples
Who it’s for: Beginner screenwriters looking for the building blocks of how to tell a completing story through screenplay. It’s also insightful for anyone who needs tips on how to improve their idea-building process.
Student feedback: “I’m really enjoying this course. I love getting information that goes at key moments in a screenplay. I think it will help a lot in structuring my screenplays.” — Comment from Udemy
Overall: A strong introduction to the basics of screenwriting, plot and character development. As well as this, you’ll also get insights into the techniques used by industry experts in the screenwriting field (and how you can use them too!)
4) Screenwriting and storytelling blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teachers: Michael Hauge & Christopher Vogler | Course length: 38 lessons totalling 6 hours and 48 minutes
Michael Hague is a top script consultant for Hollywood Movies and has been in the business for over 30 years. Plus, he’s coached several screenwriters, novelists and professional speakers to make their work stand out.
In this course, Hague and his co-teacher Vogler (a published author and screenwriter) help you get to grips with the core values of screenwriting.
You’ll learn to:
- Structure a successful narrative
- Map out character arcs
- How to aim for commercial and artistic success
- Learn from people who are in the industry
- Easy-to-understand teaching
- Focus on what audiences find engaging
- Can be repetitive at times
- No handouts available that are mentioned in the course
Who it’s for: Any writer looking to deepen their understanding of how to create effective character arcs. Also, it’s great for anyone who wants to better their storytelling so it connects with an audience.
Student feedback: “This course is very interesting and informative. Both lecturers are experts in their field and their explanations and teachings are invaluable for those who want to be a screenwriter.” — Comment from Udemy
Overall: An engaging and varied course taking you from the basics right up to audience psychology. However, at times, the material and terminology can get a little repetitive. But, overall, this is balanced by a course that is led by experts in their field.
5) Micro-Budget Filmmaking: Screenwriting (Skillshare)
Platform: Skillshare | Teacher: Dustin Curtis Murphy | Course length: 9 lessons totalling 38 minutes
Dustin Curtis Murphy is an American actor and filmmaker. His films have won and been nominated for many awards including BAFTAs and Shriekfest. So, in this course you’ll get to learn from Murphy as he talks you through screenwriting for films with a micro-budget.
You’ll learn to:
- Develop compelling characters
- Employ the the best strategies for your scriptwriting
- Achieve your goals when finances are tight
- Learn from an award winning filmmaker
- Breaks the screenwriting process down into simple steps
- Easy to follow
- Less suited for more advanced writers
- Short course length
Who it’s for: People looking to start their screenwriting journey and build their confidence in writing. And, people who are interested in other aspects of film may also find this course interesting in seeing how they all relate to one another.
Student feedback: “This was very helpful. I didn’t have a clue how to actually write a screenplay, now I feel confident enough to get one started. It’s great!” — Comment from Skillshare
Overall: A short but sweet course with a focus on character. Also, this course will also be perfect for anyone working with a limited budget (and isn’t the only film course Skillshare has to offer on this subject either!)
However, if you’re looking for something more advanced, one of the other courses on this list (such as Shonda Rhimes’) might be a better fit for you.
6) Learn to write Movies: Screenwriting step by step (Skillshare)
Platform: Skillshare | Teacher: John Watts | Course length: 23 lessons totalling 3 hours and 58 minutes
Watts is highly experienced in the film and television industry having worked in it for nearly 20 years. Starting his career at the BBC, he eventually moved over to the film industry where he became a professional writer and script “doctor.”
You’ll learn to:
- Flesh out your characters
- Find your screenplay’s theme(s)
- Construct scenes and craft dialogue
- Easy to follow teaching
- Practical Class Project
- Strong examples throughout
- Could use more visual references
- More “basic” level instruction
Who it’s for: This course would be ideal for anyone who has a strong idea but is unsure how to translate that to the page. In fact, this is a point Skillshare advertises as a selling point.
That being said, more advanced writers will also benefit from Watts’ expertise on the standards Hollywood expects from scripts
Student feedback: “Great teacher with great information, very well and clearly delivered and organised making it easy for everyone, even a total beginner like me, to understand! Can’t wait to start on my script now” — Comment from Skillshare
Overall: A very easy-to-watch course that simplifies screenwriting into digestible advice. Furthermore, users are also encouraged to share their work, which is a nice touch.
7) Script writing: Basics and Tips: How to Write a Movie Script: Screenwriting for beginners (Skillshare)
Platform: Skillshare | Teacher: Jim Bruce | Course length: 18 lessons totalling 2 hours and 1 minute
After a career in music, Jim Bruce turned his attention to online tutoring with a focus on screenwriting and novel writing. So, in this course, Bruce aims to show you the narrative structures that movies require and how you can cater your writing to this.
You’ll learn to:
- Turn your idea into an amazing story
- Understand what the industry expects from a screenplay
- Know how and where to pitch your screenplay
- Good case study of Die Hard
- Actionable tips and resources throughout
- A knowledgeable instructor
- Sometimes content can feel disjointed
- More geared towards action movies
Who it’s for: In sum, this course would be ideal for anyone interested in screenwriting but who doesn’t know where to start. That being said, if you’re a more advanced scriptwriter, this course has some great tips on how to pitch and where to send your script to.
As well as this, you’ll gain an understanding of the “formulas” used in many successful films and how to work these into your writing.
Student feedback: “This class is clear and concise. Everything you need to start. The lessons are well organized and very detailed. Better than the majority of screenwriting classes out there. Highly recommend this course.” — Comment from Skillshare
Overall: A solid course in narrative theories, plot breakdowns, as well as fantastic industry advice. Furthermore, this focus on how to pitch and where to pitch will be an invaluable resource for any screenwriter no matter their ability!
8) Beginning Screenwriting Made Easy (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Word Dancer/Pamela Kay | Course length: 38 lessons totalling 2 hours and 48 minutes
This course is a step-by-step approach to screenwriting, taught by Pamela Kay (a screenwriter and content creator). In her class, you’ll learn the basics for planning your movie script — including structure and characters. Also, you’ll learn how to format your screenplay and what to do after you’ve finished a first draft.
You’ll learn to:
- Make ideas “resonate” with an audience
- Build your characters up as you develop the story
- Make the most of some inder secrets!
- Get feedback on you screenplay
- Easy-to-watch teaching style
- Advice on protecting your story
- Contains links to screenwriting communities
- No assignments in the course
- Less suited to advanced writers
Who it’s for: This course is targeted to those interested in screenwriting as a creative outlet. Also, this course would be beneficial to those who have written books and want to translate that into a screenplay.
Student feedback: “I’ve been a story writer and playwright for some time but I’m now eager to learn a new set of skills. I loved this course and found it hugely helpful in so many ways. I’m now off to re-look at some of my previous work with a newly tuned-up eye! Many Thanks.” — Comment on Udemy
Overall: A fun and informative course with great scope. Therefore, new writers and seasoned ones alike will probably find something to gain in this course. On top of that, there are also some gems of advice on how to get ahead in the business!
9) Screenwriting masterclass: A complete guide to Screenwriting (Skillshare)
Platform: Skillshare | Teacher: Brian Bimingham | Course length: 39 lessons totalling 3 hours and 34 minutes
Brian Birmingham has spent his career as a copywriter in Hollywood. So, in this screenwriting course, he aims to share the tips and tricks he’s learned from his years of proofreading scripts. And you know you’re in good hands when some of the screenplays he’s handled include Black Panther and Toy Story 4!
You’ll learn to:
- Why “originality” is important
- How to shape your story through a moral truth
- What do after you’ve written your screenplay
- Revise what you wrote in your first draft.
- Learn from an industry insider
- Easy to follow
- Contains lots of assignments
- Less industry focussed
- Not all original material
Who it’s for: Anyone who is serious about writing a screenplay. Also, if you’re at an intermediate level with screenwriting, I think you’ll find the course depth useful. Whatsmore, every section leads seamlessly into the next so there’s no getting lost.
Student feedback: “Thank you Brian. This class is the best online screenwriting class I’ve taken, and I learned a lot. I now have the tools to get started on my screenplay, review films through a writers lens, and pursue this career with more confidence.” — Comment from Skillshare
Overall: A highly recommended course if you’re looking for the “inside scoops” of screenwriting. As well as this, the course assignments help to keep you engaged with the content and put your new skills to use.
10) Screenwriting for beginners (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: David Ford | Course length: 5 lessons totalling 37 minutes
David Ford has been interested in film-making since an early age and is now an award-winning screenwriter. On top of this, he runs another Udemy course on independent filmmaking.
You’ll learn to:
- Break down movie scripts
- Understand the elements of a screenplay
- Write an independent movie script
- Learn from someone with experience in the field
- Ideal for beginners
- Backed up by examples
- Short course length
- Not always an engaging teacher
Who it’s for: This course is definitely geared towards beginners. That being said, if you are more seasoned in writing, or in other areas of the movie business, you may still find this course a nice introduction to screenwriting.
Student feedback: “The course breaks down the elements of a screenplay script, how to use them, and gives several easy to understand examples. I highly recommend it if you are a beginner who has never written a screenplay before.” — Comment from Udemy.
Overall: A concise overview of screenplay elements and how to get yourself started in the field. But, if you’re looking for something more career-focused, another course on this list (such as Aaron Sorkin’s) might be better for you.
What are the advantages of taking an online screenwriting class?
In short, there are plenty! Such as:
- Getting lessons from celebrities and industry experts
- Being able to realize your creative visions through screenwriting
- Understanding elements of plot and character development
- Learning to pitch your ideas
- Finding out the techniques used in successful movie and TV scripts
Buyers guide: what to look out for in an online screenwriting class
Choosing the right screenwriting class for you can be daunting! So, we suggest you consider the following points before making a decision:
- Instructors’ experience — if you’re going to invest time and money into a screenwriting class, you want to be assured of an instructor’s skill level and competence in a subject area relevant to you
- Develops skills — an online screenwriting class shouldn’t just entertain or teach you some new words. The right class will teach you how to improve your skills and develop your craft, such as how to come up with a great movie idea, ways to develop characters, and much more!
- Great techniques — of course, you do want to learn some valuable knowledge that you can put to good use. So, you need to be sure a class focuses on the aspects of screenwriting you’d like to develop
- Syllabus and skill level — make sure what’s on offer is what you’re looking for! Are you looking for a class with a broad focus, or something more niche?
- Price — obviously, you’ll want to choose something that’s in budget. But it’s also important to consider the value you’re getting too. If one course is twice the price of another (and still in budget) but the teacher had 10x more experience than another course, this is a factor you may want to consider!
How much does it cost?
Prices of the classes mentioned in this review vary between around $20-$90. Even at the higher end, these courses are cheaper than in-person training.
And they’re even better value if you calculate them on an hourly basis and factor in that you’re developing a skill that could open many doors for you.
In terms of the subscriptions platforms (MasterClass and SkillShare), prices change, but subscriptions are usually around the $180-$200 mark.
Also, your subscription gives you access to all available classes on the platform across the year. And the more courses you take during that year, the better the value for money.
How long does it take to learn screenwriting?
Courses in this review vary in length from 37 minutes to 8 hours!
However, you should also account for practice. A general rule would be to take the course length and multiply by 5 (which accounts for practice hours) to get a feel for how long you need to put aside time to learn this skill.
And remember, you can also view and revisit the videos at your own pace.
As well as this, many of the courses also include downloadable resources and assignments for your reference.
How do we rank our results?
We rank our results according to which courses we believe to be the best.
Inevitably, this is subjective. But the factors we consider include:
- Teachers’ experience
- Provides transferable skills
- Has a strong, varied syllabus
- Is well taught and explained
- Student feedback
- Production quality
- Overall impressions
Where we can, we complete the courses in order to review them. If this isn’t possible, we do extensive research on the course, its syllabus, and student feedback.
In conclusion, if you’re looking to learn/develop screenwriting skills, you’re not short of options.
MasterClass is perhaps the most appealing option as it gives you the chance to learn from world-renowned screenwriters. You also have the opportunity to learn from a whole host of leading experts in cooking, negotiation, acting and more.
Udemy and SkillShare also have a variety of options — especially if you’re looking for something more niche or career-focused. Udemy, in particular, is a good choice if you’re looking for an individual purchase.
So, hopefully, this article has helped you to better understand what the best screenwriting class is for you!
Frequently asked questions
Our top recommendation is MasterClass. With MasterClass, you can learn from the likes of Shonda Rhimes and Aaron Sorkin.
In this round-up, online screenwriting classes cost between $20-$200. And, generally, online courses cost far less than in-person lessons!
These classes take between 37 minutes and 8 hours. But you should also account for practice time!
Rebecca graduated from King’s College university with a first class honours in English Language, followed by a Masters’ Degree in Eighteenth Century Studies.