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Write Your TV Comedy Script: Course Info & How to Structure Your Script

Updated: Jun 6

In this blog I talk about my Write Your TV Comedy Script course and set out advice on structuring your thirty-minutes TV comedy script. And in the video I talk about how the course works.


Note: I run two TV comedy script writing courses. This WRITE YOUR TV COMEDY SCRIPT course is focused on getting the actual script written, with a close focus on getting the structure and rhythm of it right. The other SITCOM & COMEDY DRAMA - ESSENTIAL WRITING TOOLS course is more exploratory. Learning and trying out techniques, writing scenes, developing characters, finding your world.

Any queries please contact - chris@chrishead.com


WRITE YOUR TV COMEDY SCRIPT Next sessions:

5 sessions on Tuesdays 25th June - 30th July 2024 (No class 2nd July)* 7pm-9pm UK time

8pm-10pm European time

11am-1pm Pacific time (PDT)

2pm-4pm Eastern time (EDT) BOOK JUNE-JULY COURSE


* This 2 week gap between session 1 and 2 will give you extra time to get everything ready to write the script after the introductory class.


As I write, I'm running this on Zoom with a group of writers in Australia, plus one in Singapore and two in the UK. It's been great seeing everyone benefit from getting some inspiration and structure for their TV scripts. One of the Aussies, referring to the script structure and the deadlines to get each stage of the script written said, "This course structures me and my script". Great slogan!


"Structure yourself and your script".


Another Aussie writer, Ryan, who kindly spread the word Down Under had this to say: "I’m marvelling at the ‘throw us in the deep end’ approach of Chris Head! Having messaged a few of the gang this week and read some of their scripts, it’s amazing what a deadline and accountability brings out in people! Well done all. I'm finding the whole thing very challenging but in a good way. By the end of this I can say ‘I finally wrote a pilot’!"

 

If you want to be thrown in the deep end (or, rather, if you want to be supported so you can dive into and confidently swim in the deep end) and if you want to finally get that script written in the company of a great group of writers and with expert support, this is the course for you.


You will follow a structured approach to getting your script written and each week we read from a selection of scripts and everyone finds it so helpful to hear their work read aloud. Across the sessions you'll get your script written and you will learn structural and plotting skills that will serve you for all your future scripts.


Across 5 weeks, be taken through the process of writing an artfully structured and plotted comedy script.


Each week features example clips from sitcoms and comedy drama shows, writing tips and insights as well as discussion and analysis of your work. A video of the live class will be shared in case of absence or to refer back to. And you will share your work in a private group where there will be discussion and feedback.


Script structure The course follows the classic script structure of: TURNING POINT/ MIDPOINT/ CRUNCH POINT. In Act 1 of your script you want to hit a 'turning point' for your protagonist (often at the end of Act 1 but it can fall earlier). In the middle of the script is the 'midpoint' and at the end of your Act 2 you reach a 'crunch point'. Then you're into Act 3 which consolidates the key relationships and tees up the series.


And these beats of the story create a series of steps that the course follows, enabling you to get your script written in 6 weeks (you have a week following the final session to get the draft done). And if you don't manage it, you will know exactly what you need to write to complete it.


HOW THESE STORY BEATS WORK


3 act structure

While stories might be told in four acts, five acts or seven, three acts is a natural shape and is commonly found in 30 minute TV comedy. (Ignore anyone who tells you these shows are two acts - probably this is based on the idea of shows with a single commercial break).


You might have a cold open at the top: a scene or scenes that go before the opening titles. This cold open, or teaser, could usefully be be plot related, but it can also be an unrelated skit with your main character(s). Act 1 introduces the dilemma or problem for your protagonist, Act 2 develops and complicates the situation, and Act 3 brings things to a conclusion. And you may end on a 'tag' - an extra comic moment after the main story is wrapped up. Now, it's not mandatory to have acts actually marked on scripts with headings saying "Act 1"/ "Act 2"/ "Act 3". But even when they aren't explicitly marked, you will benefit from writing to this underlying rhythm.


The three big beats of your script

ACT 1 will be setting everything up for that episode. It will open with an INCITING INCIDENT that gets the whole story in motion. At a key moment - usually at the end of Act 1, but it could be sooner within that first act - you reach a TURNING POINT for your protagonist. So something changes for your main character, it's the moment that sends your characters down a new path or raises the stakes on the challenge that has been introduced.


Act 2 picks up the story, then around half-way through the script, you hit the MIDPOINT. It's not just the middle of the script, it has a specific job to do. It can be the moment of no return, or at least when things suddenly get more challenging and options close down for your protagonist. It can also be a revelation where the audience find out something significant.


At the END ACT 2 you hit a CRUNCH POINT for your protagonist. This is the worst point. You can look at the script making things worse for your protagonist across the three beats of turning point, mid point and crunch point. Then you're into the shorter act 3 that rounds things off.


On the Zoom course we look at shows as varied as Ghosts, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Black Books, Friends, Alma's Not Normal, Fawlty Towers, Hacks...


"This is the best comedy writing course I've done. Chris’ course was organised, incredibly thorough and well designed. Every week we were writing pages for our sitcoms, reading other course attendees' homework and reading professional scripts. I particularly liked that every week he would choose a few scripts to go through in class, this meant that if your script was chosen, you received a lot of feedback from not only him but others on the course. It was a great incentive to hand in homework on time, write using the tools you learnt that week so that you could hear your scripts read out loud. Hearing others’ work and giving them feedback was also very fun. This felt like an intensive course, I managed to complete my first draft of my sitcom in 5 weeks which I didn’t think was possible. The course was very intentional and focused, so it felt like you learnt a lot in a short burst of time. Chris’ feedback was also very positive, encouraging and specific. During the last session, Chris went through some information about the industry itself, which was very helpful as that information can be difficult to find alone. I absolutely loved this course and I got a lot of value out of it. I highly recommend doing this course!"

Alya Soliman


Next ZOOM course sessions:

5 sessions on Tuesdays 25th June - 30th July 2024 (No class 2nd July)

7pm-9pm UK time

8pm-10pm European time

11am-1pm Pacific time (PDT)

2pm-4pm Eastern time (EDT) BOOK JUNE-JULY COURSE


Image of a class in progress by Kate Bell (student in top right of picture!). Thanks Kate!


And I can also work with you on your script one-to-one.


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