If you’ve every thought, as I’m sure we all have at one time or another, 1) this would make a great sitcom or, 2) I’m living in the middle of a sitcom, the BBC has all the answers in the BBC Writersroom. There are those that will argue that the ‘Sit’, or situation, needs to come first while others will argue that the ‘Com’, or comedy, is the most important aspect of a successful idea. Once you decide whether or not your particular story fits into either #1 or #2 above, here are some great tips to get you started from many on the front lines of many comedies that either are or will become your favorites in the not-too-distant future. No matter what side successful writers side, the basic starting point? The story.
It is useful to think of organizing a story in three acts. The first act (from three to five pages of a 30-minute script) sets up the major story of the episode, and introduces the major sub-plot. The final act (again, three to five pages) resolves both main plot and sub-plot. The middle act develops the narrative but, around halfway through the script, pushes things off into an unexpected direction. The audience should always want to know what is going to happen next, and be intrigued.
The BBC Writersroom is a great site for wannabe writers, long-time writers or anyone who has an interest in how your favorite comedy or drama is put together. Not only are there tips along the way, but there’s a genuine effort to move aspiring writers along with the ultimate goal of getting their voice heard and their work produced for BBC film, TV and radio.
Curious as to what a script looks like?
From a comedy standpoint, a classic example from Miranda, the winner of the 2010 British Comedy Award for Best New TV Comedy along with Miranda Hart winning Best TV Comedy Actress. In addition, Miranda was named “Best Scripted Comedy” at the Royal Television Society Awards in 2011. Probably not a bad one to look at to get you started.