Chevron Left
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

420 ratings
159 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. 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! " *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 14, 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!


Jan 11, 2017

Amazing course. Without useless talking, we are immediately thrown into action, and start working immediately. This course helped me gain priceless empiric experience, and finally start writing.

Filter by:

126 - 150 of 156 Reviews for Script Writing: Write a Pilot Episode for a TV or Web Series (Project-Centered Course)

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 Chew W Y

Oct 03, 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 aman g

Apr 03, 2016

Quite good introductory course on script writing, enjoyed writing my first pilot episode of my series

By Deirdre B

Oct 05, 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 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.


Apr 07, 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 Elaine W

Apr 07, 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.

By adriene j

Jun 04, 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 maayan c

Mar 14, 2016

really really nice and helpfull.

By Brittany N

Apr 04, 2017

I really loved taking this course. It forced me to sit down and write almost every day, and I really appreciate that. I've learned so much, and I love the fact that I can learn things from fellow students.

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 Teya

Mar 14, 2017

I'm ALREADY optimistic about my confidence and capabilities. I write down crazy ideas all of the time. This will not give me a framework for which I can have tons of fun and maybe get a show out there!

By Angie M A S

Apr 04, 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 Sharon E L

Apr 13, 2019

Good course, pushes students to be creative and step out of the box!

By Kristin H

Oct 03, 2019

The applied projects were great, and I learned a lot from the peer review assignments. However, I would have liked to get more professional or structured feedback on my work or ideas at some point.

By Ayush G

Oct 03, 2019

The course is perfect but it can be little more descriptive

By Ramiro A Z C

Apr 04, 2016

I like the course, it is pretty good to learn screenplay, but

They need to explain a little some topics that new writers maybe don't understand. Submerge more in some topics and explain it.

By Dmitry K

Dec 01, 2016

I understood the point that in script writing matters more than theory but I don't think that it's right that all marks I got I received from other with me with zero feedback from lectors and teachers.

Definitely I wouldn't pay for sertificate but as first step and making some ready draft for further polishing the script this course was enough. So from one side it helped me to move forward with my idea but on other hand I didn't get any professional feedback and advices from teacher. There were some very useful comments from other students but I also need some help from people who are real professionals in it.

By Edu M

Aug 23, 2017

Generic short videos with no support by the tutor; the exercises and the peers' reviews are nice, though.

By Benjamin A

Aug 21, 2017

A good place to provide the structure and discipline for your first script writing endeavour. However, the most fundamental element is the peer review feedback, in order to adapt and develop your work. This was more or less absent from the course, with the yes/no grading system and 'optional' written feedback, most fellow students wrote nothing or simply a single line of no constructive value. This may be because you must read and assess 5 peer projects and I suppose some people feel it is too time consuming. Also, the outdated videos still promise feedback from the course creator for the top 5 highest peer graded projects, but this was only the case the first time the course ran. I felt the videos themselves didn't offer any real 'lessons' or insight into scriptwriting, again it was really just the enforced deadline that was useful, if you have the personal discipline and integrity you could achieve the same without the course.

By Alanea K

Apr 11, 2016

I loved the course and content, but, found the process cumbersome. I think that some of these issues have now been addressed and should not present a problem in future programs.

By Dulce J C

Aug 12, 2017

Material or better explanation of the format of some of the deliverables would be helpful. The internet contains different formats and examples; unless all of them are correct, a bit of more direction would be better.

By Benjamin

Sep 20, 2019

Participants aren’t required to give written feedback and so most of the time they skip that part. You’re left with essentially an up or down vote on most critiques without much context as to why and then asked to revise based on that, which is difficult to do. The helpful tips for each assignment are on the discussion board but they really should be part of the instructions because they are basically more comprehensive instructions. The videos are helpful encouragement. The deadline schedule is useful to keep you on track.

By Jhenne T B

Jul 17, 2016

This isn't a CLASS it's a workshop.

Thank goodness for fee waivers; I would have been so upset if I had spent my money on this course. As someone who has taken Coursera offerings in the past, I cannot cosign the quality of this course.

This class seems to suffer from both a lack of structure and time. I believe if the course was longer (allowing for more space between unguided assignments) the class would be a little better. I understand that the Instructor is barred by time constraints (this is only a five week course, and an opt-in one at that), so I do relate to not wanting to inundate the class with reading assignment and lengthy lectures.

That said, the guidance and lessons are lacking-- even if the class was longer, I would still only give it 2.5/5 stars.

It appeared that the onus was on the Mentors to provide answers; for example, the professor mentioned that our scripts are meant to feature half hour pilots. This left many students writing dramas rather than comedies at a loss, since they were planning for hour long pilots. (This, again, is partially an issue of the class being so short; more time to review = the option to have longer pilots, rather than only accepting half hour pilots in order to allow students to review five different submissions within three days.) Since half hour dramas are unconventional, I asked one of our mentors, JZ (who is great) for examples.

The responsibility should not be on the Mentors to find out-- information like that should be included in the prompt; if not discussed in depth, then at least as a link or list of examples to research on your own if you have the time + desire to do so. Especially since the assignment boils down to "break convention with no examples of successful scripts in this fashion." In a class presumably allowing beginningeres/greenhorns to participate, this is irresponsible and flawed teaching.

The same goes of the "hints" that are periodically posted (though again, appreciated!) by mentors in the forums-- those definitions and explanations should be included in the meat of the class, not as supplemental elements. In all honesty, if I didn't have prior experience with writing, I oftentimes wouldn't have any idea what was being discussed by the professor. (And one trip through the forums will illustrate that I am not the only one.)

The assignments and due dates are oddly crunched together (another time constraint issue, I understand), but the Instructor's videos seem to imply that we should be receiving feedback before proceeding each time? Maybe in a longer course that would work, but here, I didn't even receive written feedback initially, so it would have been a mistake to wait for some to revise by before forging ahead.

If this class isn't going to provide a solid foundation to build on, then it should be made clear, upfront. There is nothing wrong with an experience based / motivation-focused class, but that aspect needs to be transparent. "We will not provide 101 teachings/readings." This isn't a class; it's a workshop. It's a makerspace at best. I expected insight and some level of instruction.

In one of the lectures, the Instructor literally says:

"I'm not a big fan of some of the classic story structures, defining in what must happen in each act. Or the problem, the twist, the resolution, rising action, denouement, fine action, etc." He does not define these terms, nor allude to them ever again. These are key benchmarks in screenwriting. Definitions would be helpful for someone just starting out, even if the Instructor doesn't strictly want us to abide by them. His students should leave the class more informed than when they came.

Unless you're lucky and receive a response from a mentor or someone with visible background in script writing, the reviews don't amount to much, because very few enrollees seem to know what is going on enough to provide a meaty assessment. That is the fault of the course, I think, rather than my peers. Likewise, The grading system here is atrocious because of it; few people understand the foundation, and thusly don't know how to format or structure. So to then be graded on a purely pass or fail basis (that, looking through the forums, many students weren't even AWARE of until the first review grades rolled in) is ridiculous. And I am saying that as someone that scored 100% on both assignments that I did stay to complete, so this is not a case of sour grapes, but an observation of inefficiency.

I understand that the class is based around "Active Learning", but for active learning to work and bear fruit, students should be able to engage with/analyze/synthesize/evaluate/build upon class content. Which necessitates actual, meaningful content. Content beyond my fellow confused peers, and 2 minute videos illustrating various ways of saying "Write Something Interesting and if it isn't Interesting, people won't care." Not exactly an astute observation that we couldn't glean anywhere but this course.

Honestly, my 4th Edition copy of "The Screenwriters Bible" is five times more helpful than this course, and it is about six years out of date.

By Ian B

Mar 05, 2016

No real teaching attempted in this course, as far as I can see...