Elephant Bucks: An Insider's Guide to Writing for TV Sitcoms

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Publisher Marketing: A comprehensive guide to writing a highly commerical and saleable spec sitcom script and launching your career as a TV sitcom writer. Includes detailed inside information on how to choose the right series to spec, how to pick the right story, and detailed, step by step instruction on how to write the scripts that will get you work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Sheldon Bull is not only the funniest man on two feet, but one of the mostbrilliant when it comes to explaining how to be funny, and how to organizeyour creative ideas into the sitcom form. It is the clearest, best, and to my knowledge the only how to that tells writers step by step how to write for and break into the fabulous world of TV sitcoms— Blake Snyder, Author of Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932907278
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Prod
  • Publication date: 5/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 266
  • Sales rank: 276,684
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Bull has been a professional tv sitcon writer, producer, and director for thirty years. His career included: writing for MASH, developing writing and producing the hit CBS sitcom Newhart; writing and producing the ABC hit Coach starring Craig T. Nelson; and producing, writing and directing the ABC hit series Sabrina-The Teenage Witch.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     xi
Elephant Bucks     xi
How Did I Get Elephant Bucks?     xi
How Do You Get Elephant Bucks?     xii
It Worked for Me!     xii
Something You've Always Dreamed of Doing     xiii
Breaking In     xiii
Staying Successful     xiv
How Do I Know That You'll Be Successful?     xiv
What You Need Right Now!     xvi
My Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Solid Spec Script     1
Those Amazing Spec Scripts!     3
What's a Spec Script, Anyway?     4
The Shortest Route to Your Lucky Break!     4
The Joy of Knowing What You're Doing!     6
One-Trick Pony     7
"What Else Have You Got?"     7
Ready to Roll     8
Calling Cards That Keep on Calling!     9
A Portfolio of Solid Spec Scripts     10
Picking the Right Series to Spec     13
The Show That You Know and Love!     13
"Hear It in Your Head"     15
Beyond Seinfeld     17
Scripts That Producers Want to Read     19
Too Soon to "Hear It in Your Head"     20
Planet MegaMall     21
The Web     22
Picking the Right Story     25
Story Is Everything     26
The Right Story Is in Front of You     26
Write to the Premise     27
Write the Main Character     29
Write the Formula     32
The Paints Are Already in the Tray     35
Don't Reinvent     36
Don't Break New Ground     37
No New Characters     37
Use the Regular Sets     37
Test the Premise     38
Write It Real     40
See How Easy That Was?     42
Structuring Your Story     47
Seven Plot Elements     47
Using the Seven Plot Elements to Develop Your Story     48
Two-Act Framework     56
Six-Scene Template     58
How We Did It on Coach     62
Going to Work on Your Story     65
Turning Plot Elements into Scenes     66
Familiar Sets     68
"B" Story     69
Multiple Story Lines     73
Runners     74
Trust Your Instincts     75
Outlining Your Story     81
Why Bother with an Outline?      81
The Whiteboard     83
How I Write an Outline     86
Writing Scenes     109
Move the Story Forward     110
Much of the Work Is Already Done     111
A Different Way of Writing Scenes     111
Write It as a Drama First     113
Roughing Out a Scene as Drama First     114
Now for the Jokes     126
Making the Humor Easier to Find     139
Page Count     139
Getting Off to a Great Start as a Professional Sitcom Writer     145
Your Finished Masterpiece Now What?     147
Now What?     147
"Who Cares What You Think?"     148
Someone Who Is Actually Going to Read It     149
"I Really Liked It Except for the Part Where..."     150
"There Is Truth in Even the Dumbest Note"     151
Three or Four People     152
"What Else Have You Got?"     153
May I Have the Address of That Show Biz Contact, Please?     155
Your Friend in Show Business     156
The Sitcom Universe     158
Where to Go in the Sitcom Universe     160
Fish Off the Company Pier     161
Farmer's Market     161
Your First Pitch Meeting     165
Your Lucky Break Has Arrived     165
They're Doing You the Favor!     167
Preparing for the Meeting     167
Six Stories, Six Notions     168
How to Pitch a Story Idea     169
You Don't Need Perfect Pitch!     171
Pitch Meeting Supplies     172
Keep It in Perspective     173
Your First Assignment     177
The Story Meeting     177
Getting Home     183
Day Two     186
Day Three and Beyond     186
Notes on Your Outline     187
The Bad Story     188
Your First Draft     188
The Second Draft     189
Cut Off     191
They Rewrote Me!!     192
Go Ahead and Have the Party!     193
Getting That Second Assignment     194
Working on Staff     199
The Sitcom Writing Staff     200
The Production Season     202
The Production Week     202
Single Camera Series     215
Your Primary Job as a Staff Writer     216
The Other Writers     217
Actors     218
The Producer's Chair      219
Creating Your Own Series     222
Your Personal Life     222
Agents & Executives     227
Agents     227
Picking an Agent     228
A Business Relationship     229
Never the Biggest Fish     231
Grow at Your Own Pace     232
Not a Parent     232
Again, Trust Your Instincts     233
Chinatown     234
Executives     234
Be Nice     236
Everything Can Be Fixed     237
The Kernel of Truth     238
"We Have a Huge Problem in Act Two"     238
"We Have Just One Tiny Little Note"     239
Why Make Enemies When You Don't Have To?     241
Learn from the Best     245
Where to Look     246
Websites     246
Speaking of Museums     247
What to Watch     247
The Current Hits     259
Conclusions     261
I Wish All of This for You     263
About the Author     266
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 26, 2012

    Great how-to book for writers for sitcoms!

    The book covers the sitcom world from the writer’s point of view. The step-by-step format is easy to follow and understand. Sheldon Bull delivers the goods on a silver platter! Just add your own hard work and you are on your way. Most of what he writes about here can be applied to any writing effort even though he targets his forte, sitcoms. I recommend this book to any writer interested in writing for sitcoms and also those writers looking for a step-by-step approach to organizing their efforts for maximum results.

    Thank you, Mr. Sheldon Bull, for the great and insightful book, Elephant Bucks.

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    Posted February 24, 2012

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