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Course Profiles: CWR 345

Ever wanted a glimpse into the writers’ room of a critically acclaimed television series? This spring, Professor Lawrence Konner is teaching “CWR 345: The Writer's Room: Creating a Dramatic Series for the New Television,” which will offer exactly that. Students will pretend to be members of the writing staff for a television series and produce the framework for the subsequent episodes. The class will focus heavily on the writing process in an effort to create an effective script and show that would captivate viewers. Konner hopes the students will learn crucial writing techniques from this course.

“They [the students] will have a good idea on how real television writers function. In this class we will create [and outline] a series together. Each student will write one episode, just like in an actual television series,” Konner said.

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Students will watch pilot episodes for series such as The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and House of Cards, and read works such as The Inner Game of Screenwriting by Sandy Frank. The class discussions will focus on character development and screenwriting.

“I think all the best writing is in television, not in film. In programs such as Netflix and Hulu, these are the only places to explore human condition,” Konner explained. “Instead of focusing on the plot, the focus is on character development.”

Konner has significant expertise in screenwriting. Konner started as a television writer for series such as Little House on the Prairie, Family, Remington Steele, and the HBO Series The Sopranos. Konner was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramatic Writing. He was also a writer and co-executive producer for Boardwalk Empire. He moved to movie-writing soon after, contributing to films such as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Countryand Planet of the Apes (2001).

The course is limited to advanced writing students with prior creative writing experience. Christina Lazaridi, full time screenwriting faculty member in charge of applications, was very excited by the applicant pool for this semester.

“We have been very excited to see the number of applications for all creative writing courses, and for screenwriting courses in particular, rise this year,” Lazaridi said. “This makes the selection process especially difficult.”

This year’s CWR 345 is different from past CWR 345 courses in terms of the selection process. This year, the course was listed as an advanced writing course that required two prerequisite 200 level courses in creative writing for a student to be eligible to apply. Furthermore, since the purpose of this class is to simulate a television series writing room, a diversity of ideas and backgrounds is necessary.

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“We looked for candidates who had a solid creative writing background, and ademonstrated interest for the medium of film and television — an awareness of the intricacy of the form and a commitment to understanding and exploring its complexity,” Lazaridi explained. Furthermore, the idea was to “curate a mixture of temperaments and backgrounds in the class that wouldfacilitate student collaboration and insight.”

One thing is clear — this semester, instead of watching television, these 10 students will write it.

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