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Volume 8, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1759-7137
  • E-ISSN: 1759-7145



In this article I foreground screenwriting as a creative writing practice, and argue that there are significant aspects of the genesis of screenplays that are not sufficiently acknowledged in the development field. In that field it is common practice that screenwriters produce formatted prose documents, predicting their screen stories in detail before the writing of a first draft is initiated. A pre-formatted approach – defined here as the Set Stage Chronology of Documents (SSCD) – has been institutionalized in European and American script culture, manifesting itself in schools, funding institutions and contract formulas. This practice implies that one specific writing method is universal and de-emphasizes such aspects of creativity as improvisation, free association and the accessing of subconscious resources – all widely assumed to be significant in creative work. Drawing upon a case study – the writing of my screenplay September during a fellowship at the Norwegian Film School – I ask how principles of improvisation can be adapted and applied to the writing of the first draft screenplay. Informed by the Russian stage director Konstantin Stanislavsky’s model for improvisation in theatre rehearsals, and the associative method practiced by screenwriter J. C. Carrière in his workshops, I suggest specific tools for ‘structured improvisation’ as used in the writing of September.


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