Gone are the days when sitcoms ruled primetime television spots. These days, primetime spots are populated with reality shows and drama series. Although there are still a few that give us a laugh occasionally, it is not how it used to be when you had a lot of options when it comes to watching sitcoms or situational comedies. If you want to bring it back to the modern times and write a script for it, you can benefit from the compiled tips listed below.
Materials that you will need:
Lots of paper and pen or your favorite word processing tool
Information from the previous episode (if you are not starting from scratch)
A few people to brainstorm with
- Writing an outline for the episode. Your outline will hugely depend on if you are writing the pilot episode or you are writing a next episode. Pilot episodes usually are a lot more difficult to write since there is a ton of pressure on how you can do justice for the whole length of the series and at the same time, not reveal all of the twists at once. You then need to roughly sketch the flow of the episode. You do not need to think about the timing of the story yet in terms of minutes.
- Expanding the outline further. When you have identified the main issue for this episode, expand your outline to build up to that climax. Develop your lines and characters in accordance with the specified personalities per character. Remember that you are writing a sitcom so this means that every two to three minutes there should be something amusing or funny mentioned in the script. You can also compile a list of jokes or funny sequences that you can insert whenever you think the chance is right.
- Picking out the jokes and road testing them. When you have written out all of your jokes, highlight them and then have somebody else read them to you. See if you will like how it sounds. Check also if there is nothing offensive in the jokes and if it does not distract you from the main story line. You can also reassign who tells the joke in the scene since a joke may sometimes fit one character better than the other. Sometimes, the actors themselves can contribute to the script since they have the gift of timing and improvising. So make sure you ask their opinion, too, especially when you are already doing the shooting of the episode. Remember that the script is a collaboration from the whole team.
- Bouncing your ideas to the team. When you have a draft of the script already, consider sitting down with key members of the team to bounce out your ideas or to throw it around and see how the idea grows. A couple of people working on a single script will help you edit the dragging parts and further enhance the plot.
The most important thing is to not assume that just because you thought a joke was funny, that it will be funny to all. Sometimes, jokes are not all verbal. You can also incorporate parts of the set that a character can react to or sometimes, it’s the absence of a comment that makes a scene funny. Nowadays, audiences are a lot smarter and do not rely on dialog or slapstick comedy to make them roll over in laughter.