The British Sitcom Guide

Writers Area WRITERS' AREA

Comedy Writing Area : Step-By-Step Writing Guide

1. Be Committed
2. Buy the Books
3. Get the Fresh Idea
4. Create A Protagonist
5. Create Conflict
6. Write Your First Episode
7. Attend A Course
8. Get Feedback
9. Send it Off
10. Sell it

Once you have thoroughly imagined a fresh situation and profiled the characters who are going to exist in this place filled with conflict then it is finally time to get writing.

Marc Blake's advice is to plot out your episode into scenes. A page and a half ought to be enough as a template. You shouldn't go on a journey without a map so be sure of your plot and subplot. Make sure that there is an inciting incident, that your lead character reacts and then acts. Include escalations, at least two - go for that 'Oh no' moment. Then, resolve the story, simply, believably and make the answers come out of character. Oh, and check that its funny!

When creating your script the most important thing is to make it readable and correctly punctuated. You should also include stage directions. You need to ensure that you follow a standard script format - most sitcom books provide guidelines on this topic and looking at existing published scripts can also help you visualise what your's should look like.

A generic photo of someone typing on a laptop. Exciting!

Getting your episode right can be quite tricky and will probably involve rewrites. Quite early on in the writing process you should seek external advice because it can make the difference between you producing an average script and a really funny one. We'll cover getting feedback in more detail a bit later.

Hopefully you'll find writing your sitcom fun but at some point you may hit a low point or get writers block. The best tip is " don’t get it right – get it written! ". Once the basics are on paper it is then much easier to polish things up. Remember: nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. After all it won’t write itself!

Your aim should be to end up with a draft that is solid for character, plot and situation Ė it doesn't have to be perfect before you send it off, after all, any script can be made funnier. If the commissioner canít see the idea from a decent early draft... well... perhaps he ought not!

Oh and don't forget to keep your work backed up - you know what computers can be like!

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