Comedy writer Ken Levine gives some wonderful advice on his must-read blog about writing that perfect sitcom spec:

Don’t view the show from the perspective of a fly. I once read a WINGS spec as
seen by a buzzing fly. I offer this as the first example because I know so many
young writers fall into this same trap.

Don’t put yourself into the show
and make yourself the lead character. I once read a CHEERS where Alan had more
lines than Sam & Diane combined. Alan? Who’s Alan? Alan was one of the
extras. And so he remained.

And just because people tell you you look
like Debra Messing doesn’t mean you should write a WILL & GRACE entitled
“Grace’s Sister”. If I get a script with a photo attached I know I’m in trouble.

Don’t hand write your script, no matter how good your penmanship. Send
your spec in a UCLA blue book and you’ll get an F.

Don’t invent a

Know the characters. I read a spec MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW where
Mary wondered what to get her husband for his birthday. Her “husband”???!

Some other things to avoid, at least in drama specs:  the hero’s evil double, the reappearance of long-lost relatives, or the hero getting amensia, going blind, or getting critically injured. It’s also not a good idea to write a spin-off pilot for one of the secondary characters.

1 thought on “Spec-tacular”

  1. Crap.
    So much for my spin-off pilot idea where Detective Tripp from CSI-Miami leaves Miami to start his own PI firm in Tampa, but gets amnesia and loses the use of his legs in a bizarre ball peen hammer accident, and while he’s in the hospital his long-lost aunt visits him to tell him that he is a twin separated at birth, and that his evil brother is running amuck in Daytona, and in the final scene Tripp manages to blind his brother with the joystick from his motorized wheelchair.
    Back to the 7th Heaven spec…


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