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Back to Script Writing: Write a Pilot Episode for a TV or Web Series (Project-Centered Course)

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Script Writing: Write a Pilot Episode for a TV or Web Series (Project-Centered Course) by Michigan State University

614 ratings
248 reviews

About the Course

What you’ll achieve: In this project-centered course*, you will design a series bible and write a complete pilot episode for your own unique television or web series, be it drama or comedy or something in between. You’ll learn to break down the creative process into components, and you’ll discover a structured process that allows you to produce a polished and pitch-ready script in just a few weeks. Completing this project will increase your confidence in your ideas and abilities, and you’ll feel prepared to pitch your first script and get started on your next. Here is a link to a trailer for the course. To view the trailer, please copy and paste the link into your browser. This is a course designed to tap into your creativity and is based in "Active Learning". Most of the actual learning takes place within your own activities - that is, writing! You will learn by doing. "Thank you so much for your direct way of teaching this course. It was encouraging for us all to creatively flow and find our own voice in writing and developing our scripts. This aspect was very important to me." Ingrid The course curriculum is simple: you’ll write, revise your work, and share feedback with your peers. I am a proponent of Experiential Learning (active learning). My lectures are short (sometimes just two minutes long) and to the point, designed in a step-by-step process essential to your success as a script writer. I will guide you but I won’t "show" you how to write. I firmly believe that the only way to become a writer is to write, write, write. “David's lecture style for this course is inspired. The videos are succinct and engaging. When I watch the lectures I feel David’s sincere desire for me to create something truly amazing. He is teaching us how to write a script, and he is providing wisdom and tools that will help us do so in a compelling way - by writing; not by watching him talk at us.” - A R Adamson What you’ll need to get started: To begin with, any basic word processor will do. During week two, you can choose to download some free scriptwriting software such as Celtx or Trelby or you may choose to purchase Final Draft, or you can continue to use your word processor and do your own script formatting. Learner Review: "I am in love with this course. Having never written a script before, or any substantive fiction since college (15 years ago) I had a small idea in my head that has now exploded into something I really believe in. David's guidance is spot on, he's his own compelling story teller, he gives you enough, and then you have to figure it out, make it happen, WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! " If you have any concerns regarding the protection of your original work, Coursera's privacy policy protects the learner's IP and you are indeed the sole owners of your work. *About Project-Centered Courses: This is a ‘project-centered course’, which means it is designed specifically to help you complete a personally meaningful real-world project, with your instructor and a community of learners with similar goals providing guidance and suggestions along the way. By actively applying new concepts as you learn, you’ll master the course content more efficiently; you’ll also get a head start on using the skills you gain to make positive changes in your life and career. When you complete the course, you’ll have a finished project that you’ll be proud to use and share. Time: 1-2 hours of study, 30+ hours of active project work...

Top reviews

Jun 13, 2016

David Wheeler is awesome, and I love this course! I am so glad that Coursera and Michigan State University have partnered to offer this course to those of us who have a thirst for learning! Thank you!

Sep 27, 2016

Fantastic course, loved the way it walked you step by step through the process and the formatting. This course could have been ten weeks and still wouldn't be enough. Awesome hands on learning.

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176 - 200 of 243 Reviews for Script Writing: Write a Pilot Episode for a TV or Web Series (Project-Centered Course)


Mar 8, 2018

So helpful! Loved this class.

By Tanmay A

Sep 15, 2018

Very useful course!

By Vishal S

Jun 24, 2016

Fantastic course!

By Jesus G

Dec 18, 2018

Great teaching

By Carolyn p

Dec 1, 2020

love tv shows

By Deleted A

Sep 1, 2017

Great course

By Vladimir M ( М

May 16, 2020

Wery well!


Apr 26, 2019


By Stephen D

Apr 29, 2020

This course is intended to support writing a pilot script, which was achieved.

The reason why this course go 4 stars- My actual review would be 3.5. is because the Teacher David does not review your work personally, he does not give you any format for things, Such as a Cold open or a character structure in a few sentences. Ect.

Instead, we get a vague overview of a loose structure that doesn't let us know details and specifics. Such as: A cold open is scene that is before and after the script that is about 1 page long and can give a piece of the story that also has a beginning middle end. It must include the main characters and also have as much dialogue as possible. Also, when writing your character descriptions and your Web bible it is best to write something in 2 or 3 sentences, focus on the core of the characters ("good hearted, KInd") Something specific.

The reason why I write this is because I have spent numerous nights/ hours reading other people's and mine in the beginning on characters details and relationships and basically a lot of information that was not needed in the character description.

Also, I would spend many hours review people work about this characters past and what they thought and the characters actions as if the script was a novel- not a script. Which made many stories long with unnecessary sentences.

Lastly, to improve this class and mention to future takers of this class, THIS WHOLE CLASS IS BASED ON PEER REVIEW. The Class is based on a 0 or a 20 .. nothing in-between. So, if someone doesn't like your work- they won't give you a review that good.,, more or less a 0 which lowers your grade.

Be prepared to pour yourself for hours over other people's work that I was not interested in. I am certain others have done that through my work, which may have been alright.

It would be helpful to have this on a 1-5 scale.. only for review. Not to be graded upon.

Again, I would give this class a 3.5 star. Good luck.


By Mary B

Aug 14, 2020

Great presentation of structure of a TV pilot/episode. I thought David Wheeler's videos were really good. Thanks for providing transcripts! The instruction was simple and spot-on. I'd like it if constructive criticism/feedback were REQUIRED when evaluating others' work. One woman seemed very vindictive after I evaluated her episode, and graded me down after that, which I found really disheartening. Working in groups was mostly a lot of fun, but creating an actual group was a little iffy. We could only scrape together five people, and one finished the course early (or was finishing up a rescheduled course late) and never participated, though he asked that we review his coursework. Another never showed up for any meetings, didn't post, etc., and so was simply never present in the group. The remaining three of us did get a lot out of our meetings, however, and we still share info. What a great way to meet other writers in other countries! That was my favorite part. One of our group had one of her episode acts stolen--her .pdf was copied, the name changed, and it was submitted as the plagiarizer's own work within 24 hours. I don't know if this was resolved, but "EEEK." A writer's worst nightmare. How about providing a written .doc or .rtf template/sample of page/element formatting? And links to sites or software for formatting and for script submissions to production companies? I am fortunate enough to have FinalDraft 11, but the formatting was tricky and, I can only imagine, tedious and frustrating for those who don't have it. I also imagine that some students are like "What now?" "Where do I send my finished script?" after the class. A great class and I enjoyed having good instruction and the challenge of deadlines (call me weird) very much.

By Chew W Y

Oct 3, 2016


Good practice with the exciting world of script writing

Learnt how to use the scriptwriting software

Some aspects of the videos were helpful and instructive e.g. teaching us how to write a cold open

Areas of improvement:-

The beginner's course is entirely graded on peer reviews where one could get a range of divergent opinions on the same story, at times scathing and not constructive. Reviewers (who are purported to be beginners themselves) also at times give seemingly 'blind' grades without sharing constructive comments.

The questions that you are graded on e.g. Do you feel immersed in the story? Is the story unique? are highly subjective and solely dependent on the reviewer's fleeting preferences. It would help if the questions were more nuanced and focused on the structure and technical aspects of script writing e.g. format, grammar, three part structure

Lessons were too short and instructional (less than 10 mins of videos for each lesson) only for certain areas; it seemed like one of the major takeaways was to keep writing which is sensible but not helpful from a beginner's point of view.


To maintain some objectivity in grading: Mask the general comments section when a reviewer is giving his comments as negative comments from other peers could influence more negativity and vice versa.

Give some guidelines on reviewing to prevent the grading process from turning into trolling.

Would appreciate more helpful lessons with deeper content!

By Leo H

Apr 30, 2020

I think the peer reviews system is flawed some people don't put the time and effort into reading each script and just give others bad reviews for no reason. I also think people should be able to reply to comments left on their work. This will allow people to get more in depth feedback especially if the initial feedback was unclear. I think people should be put into peer review groups at the start that way people will be looking at the same stories the whole way through so they really get a feel for the characters and can give better reviews. I would have also like some more feedback from a mentor at the end of the course. But I really liked the course and really enjoyed writing the script I really like all the feedback you get along the way this was a great thing to do whilst stuck inside especially as because my GCSE'S were cancelled I had no work to do. Thanks.

By Yomna F

Aug 11, 2020

I loved the course, it had me hooked since day one. This was my first time trying screenwriting, I accidentally enrolled in the course and I decided to go for it and I have absolutely no regrets.

The videos are extremely helpful, but they can still be a bit more detailed to give complete understanding of everything. The mentor was very helpful. The course is flexible and you can submit your work more than once, with enough room for improvement.

I had trouble finding a group to work with and review their work, so maybe at the start of the course groups should be assigned according to genre for example. That way, one can review same works each week and give a review based on complete understanding of the work.

By Elizabeth S K

Mar 20, 2018

Fantastic introduction to screenwriting and generally good, exhaustive feedback from mentor Jan Zurcher at the end (especially feedback regarding scriptwriting conventions/format).

At the same time, for unsolicited feedback this was a little discouraging; especially the bit where Jan said he didn’t feel engaged, as others had said they did feel engaged. I feel at this early stage, we need constructive feedback but also an incentive to go on, a degree of validation encouraging us to nurture our strengths. I feel the rest will come with practice. In this regard, I found Jan's feedback discouraging rather than constructive.

By Robert O

Apr 11, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed this class. It gives you an excellent regiment and list of characteristics that would make your pilot and potential series desirable. My only real issue, which makes it 4 instead of 5 stars, is that the student feedback is somewhat limited in that not all students really understand how to give notes. Often times they are very vague ("good effort, write with move consision") not offering enough particulars to know what you should be looking to improve. But that's the inherent limitation of a course offered in this format. Not a reflection on the curriculum itself.

By Santoria R

Oct 23, 2016

The course was great in that it moves you to write. I actually completed a pilot script that I was very proud of. My only criticism of the course would be the peer review. For the most part the reviews were weak and lacking substance. I put a lot of energy into reviewing classmates works but I can't say that I got back what I put out. This may be improved with a video teaching students what kind of feedback is expected of them. Other than that, it's worth the time.

By Elaine W

Apr 6, 2016

I really enjoyed this class. I would say that it is a lot of work in a short period of time. Also there were some issues with the peer review process. For example not knowing the criteria we would be graded on before submitting the assignments, many students unable to get enough reviews to move forward especially if they had to revise their assignment. Hopefully, this will be worked out for future versions. Overall, it was an interesting process.


Apr 7, 2016

Well-paced course that encourages you to write, and sets reasonable deadlines that are so important for procrastinators. Don't agree with the statements that reading scripts and watching films won't help you as a writer, as I've found doing both extremely useful in learning to analyze and write more efficiently and effectively. Enjoyed the sessions, got some good feedback, and am continuing to work on the subsequent episodes of my new series.

By adriene j

Jun 4, 2018

Learned much but felt the homework was too much to do within one week. That is, an outline and act due the same week before peer review should be adjusted. Even if the course runs longer, I feel that doing an outline then getting peer review before submitting the act would be more helpful. Allows writer to better flesh out the script with more time to improve and implement the useful peer review suggestions.

By Deirdre B

Oct 5, 2016

I found this a hugely useful course. I really liked it's minimalism and found it a great writing prompt.

My only criticism was the way the feedback and critique is set up. I found it didn't encourage people to do written analysis of what they liked and didn't like. Sometimes I didn't myself because after I wrote a critique, I would loose it by pressing the submit button before the post button.

By Adrianna L

Jul 28, 2020

I'm glad I took this course. It was very challenging but extremely beneficial. I think the feedback from peers is very helpful. I definitely stayed motivated throughout the course. I highly recommend this course if you want to improve your writing skills and get inspired. You get to write an entire pilot for a TV series.

By Adam R

Aug 26, 2018

Thoroughly enjoyed the course. A lot of the assignments really helped me to fully flesh out my, initially, basic idea into a much greater story. I did find one or two things that seemed to oppose my understanding of script writing 'rules', but aside from this it was a fantastic course.

By Angie M A S

Apr 3, 2019

This is a great and helpful course, but I just would like there would be some examples of what we have to do at least in the first and second week. I recommend this course for those who like to write and create new stories, and maybe in the future, make possible the real screenplay.

By Joyanne F

Apr 2, 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this class and feel that I've really grown as a writer. The student peer review process didn't always work for me as not all feedback was constructive. Perhaps students need some direction on how to offer really helpful feedback.

By Adrienne R

May 10, 2016

This course is a great introduction to the art of script writing. You'll gain an understanding of basic script formatting, get in the habit of writing consistently and have the benefit of your script being reviewed by peers.