How NOT to Write a Sitcom: 100 mistakes to avoid if you ever want to get produced

How NOT to Write a Sitcom: 100 mistakes to avoid if you ever want to get produced

by Marc Blake

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The craft of sitcom is possibly the hardest of all screenwriting genres, demanding a complex set of skills that must all be present to succeed.
How NOT to Write a Sitcom is a troubleshooting guide aimed at both the novice and the practising sitcom writer. It illustrates and explains the many pitfalls in concept, characterisation, plotting and dramatic/comedic writing,which pepper the hundreds of scripts submitted every year. Each point is illustrated with an example of the error and each section contains practical suggestions and exercises for the writer to apply to their own writing. The book takes makes no assumption of the reader other than an interest in the form. It contains interviews with current producers as well as interviews with successful practioners of the craft.

Marc Blake is a script consultant, writer and teacher of writing for sitcom. In this book he acts as a 'script mechanic' and offers a full 'MOT for writers' - stripping a sitcom down to its component parts, isolating the faults and fixing them. What script editors and producers are looking for are scripts that work. Naturally they want a genius in embryo, but above all they first want to see something that is roadworthy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781408130896
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 09/23/2011
Series: Writing Handbooks
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Marc Blake is a script consultant, writer and teacher of writing for sitcom. At City University he taught Sitcom and Comedy writing for fifteen years with graduates including Katherine Tate and the co-creators of 'Genius' (BBC2) and 'The Thick of It' (BBC1). He has sold three sitcoms to ITV and the BBC and his TV two-part Drama 'The Swap' (ITV) was broadcast in 2002 to great acclaim and nine million viewers.
Marc Blake teaches film studies at Winchester and Southampton Solent Universities, UK. He runs writing courses at MarlboroughCollege, UK as well as a script consultancy ( He is theauthor of the novels Sunstroke, Big Time, and 24Karat Schmooze. His nonfiction includes How NOT to write Sitcom and Writing the Comedy Movie. He is thewriter/director of the forthcoming feature film Axman.

Table of Contents

Introduction-Welcome to the garage vii

Acknowledgements ix

Cast list x

Section 1 Form and Format 1

1 What sitcom is and isn't 2

2 Grammar: the grammar of sitcom 24

3 Sitcom in the US and the UK 57

Section 2 Character and Plot 73

4 Character 74

5 Plotting 94

Section 3 Nuts and Bolts 111

6 Scenes 112

7 Jokes and dialogue 125

8 Your first episode 139

9 Case Studies 160

10 What production companies put in their shredders 182

11 Team-Writing 207

Section 4 Selling the Script 215

12 The business of sitcom 216

Conclusion 242

Author details 245

Websites 246

Suggested reading 247

Sitcoms and comedy drams cited 249

Index 252

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