Script Writing for Television: The Art of the Sitcom

Posted on May 13th, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Script Writing for Television

The situation comedy, or sitcom genre has its roots in radio broadcasting, but became a sensation after hitting TV airways. When it comes to TV genres, it’s safe to say that the sitcom will never go out of fashion. We all know that having a good laugh is one of the best forms of entertainment there is, and sitcoms have been responsible for bringing laughter into millions of homes since the ’40s.

Today, you’ll find that there’s so much variety when it comes to characters, dialogue, humor, and style in sitcoms, that anyone with a knack for comedy writing can have a shot at one day writing a hit series. If you’re planning on pursuing an education in film and television, read on for a few sitcom writing tips that can help kick-start your career in the industry.

Script Writing for Television Requires Well-Developed Characters

When developing a cast of characters for your sitcom script, it’s important to know every detail about them. Take the time to brainstorm and come up with their back story, how they talk, walk, and their quirks—the combination of these traits is what will make them funny.

Experts suggest that when script writing for television sitcoms, it’s best to have between four and eight main characters that appear in the majority of episodes. Four to eight detailed personalities leaves room for endless jokes and funny interactions. The more details and nuances about your characters that you can come up with, the more opportunity you’ll have to write lines for them.

Know the Sitcom Format When Script Writing for Television

When plotting out the storyline for your script, you can use the average broadcast sitcom format as a guideline. Most 30-minute sitcoms—minus commercials—are about 22 minutes long. In script writing, this translates into a script that’s anywhere between 25 and 40 pages long.

You'll have 25-40 pages worth of material per episode when writing a sitcom

You’ll have 25-40 pages worth of material per episode when writing a sitcom

Courses in television will teach you that sitcom episodes typically have a main plot, as well as a subplot or two to keep things interesting. When you’re developing ideas for challenges or problems that your characters will encounter during an episode’s story, make sure that they can come to some sort of conclusion by the end of the 25-40 page script format.

Many Sitcom TV Scripts Need a Teaser

The teaser is a short scene that you’ll incorporate at the beginning of an episode. It’s designed to have one or two introductory scenes that will get viewers interested and ready to sit through the duration of your half-hour episode.

Teasers can either introduce the plotline of the episode to give viewers a taste of what’s to come, or can consist of a few stand-alone jokes. During a network broadcast, teasers are generally followed by the title or title sequence, so you might want to start thinking of a catchy tune to use and how you want your opening credits to look as well!

Are you looking for film and television schools that will help you get your ideas out into the world?

Visit Trebas for program information, or to speak with an advisor. 

Write a Comment

Comments are closed.