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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Writing for Television

It happens. You think you won't and then you do. Someone says you know you can get three hundred grand for a pilot...really? Really. And then you get interested in the form. Interesting. A mini teleplay. Like a mini play. And how long does it have to be? Twenty two minutes playing time. In other words a page a minute and now you have to really knock it down to twenty two pages but you can go up to thirty some pages for cues and such. But you really shouldn't go beyond that.

And so you dissect the American fascination with the sitcom. What it comes do is this: situational comedies are based on misdirection or rather misconceptions. Character A misconstrues what Character B is doing which impinges Character C which impinges Character D. So every one starts acting on these misconceptions and amping up the plot by adding fuel to the fire or the misconceptions of the misconceptions. By the twelve minute mark everyone is really pissed off about perceived slights and insults.

So then the the misconceptions lead to slapstick situations. The whole thing blows up and the misconceptions begin to be revealed for not being anything anybody thought they were. Fences are mended and a moral imperative snakes through the grass toward the end as faith is restored and characters are shown to be basically very good people.

That then is writing for television. Throw in a lot of situational jokes and you can bowl for that three hundred grand.  Here's looking at you kid.

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