Writing a Sitcom Spec Script

I LOVE SITCOMS.

When I’m tired of the adrenaline rush and emotional roller coaster of shows like Scandal and Revenge, I take comfort in the brilliant and zany humor of shows like Modern Family, Community and The Mindy Project. My dream is to be on SNL and debut my collection of ridiculous characters and three (more like two and a half) polished celebrity impressions. Today, I read every word of this piece analyzing how meta of a sitcom 30 Rock is, just to let you know how much of a nerd I am.

This week, I came across this really cool opportunity to write a spec script (a sample script of a currently running TV show) for either a half-hour comedy or hour-long drama and submit it to a screenwriting workshop held by the  Muslim Public Affairs Council and Disney/ABC Television Group. The one-day workshop is specifically looking for American Muslims interested in writing for TV series!

Guess what? I AM AN AMERICAN MUSLIM INTERESTED IN WRITING FOR TV SERIES!

I have been keeping story ideas to pitch for TV shows and animated films for years! THIS COULD BE MY BIG BREAK, PEOPLE!

There are however a few issues, such as:

1) I have never written a spec script before

2) The deadline is this Wednesday, March 12.

I have been mostly focusing on studying for my GRE exam, which I will take tomorrow afternoon. This exam of course takes precedence, however in my mind, it is less exciting than writing a spec script for a screenwriting workshop.

I’ve come up with a few ideas for a sitcom script but I really won’t be able to start until after my exam so like Saturday night or Sunday. I was worried about the show I want to write my spec for, because based on my cursory research, it’s best to write a spec for a show that isn’t isn’t too popular so that it’s over done and also not in danger of being canceled. Basically all of my favorite shows ever have always been in danger of being canceled, BUT I came across news today that this show has been renewed for a third season, huzzah! I’m in the clear!

So I have absolutely no idea if I’ll be able to get something done by Wednesday at midnight but I’m still going to try! Who knows, hopefully the other scripts are mediocre so mine will rise to the top of their inbox.

If you’re interested in participating in the workshop, here are the details:

Applicants are asked to submit a half-hour comedy or a one-hour drama spec script of a broadcast or cable network TV series that is currently airing on TV.

Submissions are due Wednesday, March 12, at midnight to deana@mpac.org.

Among the criteria for spec scripts are:

  • Accuracy in character voice
  • Story structure
  • Effectiveness in capturing the series’ tone
  • Innovation

No previous professional writing experience is necessary. Participants will be selected based on the strongest spec script writing samples. Finalists may be asked to provide additional writing samples. Space is limited. No materials will be returned after the judging process. The date for the workshop will be determined when participants are selected

I’m using Scrivener to format the script so that should hopefully help cut down unnecessary time as well.

If anyone has any advice on writing specs or writing for sitcoms, I’ll take it all!

FADE OUT

When Disney Princesses Turn Evil

When Disney Princesses Turn Evil

Evil Ariel!

I absolutely LOVE fairytales with a twist. These illustrations of evil Disney princesses like Pocahontas, Ariel, and Mulan are genius. Now we just need stories to match every picture….

One idea, Ariel’s left hand has been replaced by a fork, so maybe she got bitten by a shark and then Prince Eric no longer wanted to be with her (since he was drawn to her beauty in the first place and didn’t really pay attention to her personality, let’s be real here). Her loneliness and desperation drove her mad and pushed her to seek solace in the sea again as a mermaid. Pollution and sewage in the ocean, thanks in part to Prince Eric’s carelessness, has infected poor Flounder and warped him into a bitter, crazy creature and killed off many of Ariel’s family members. Together, Ariel and Flounder plot their revenge against the human world…

Not bad, right? It’s so fun to see how anything can inspire you:)

If you want more, check out the artist’s blog!

The Liebster Award

My lovely friend, Savannah, over at Untethered as a Cloud, has nominated me for The Liebster Blog award. I was not previously aware of this award but it is given to up and coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. Also “Liebster” means “dearest” in German, isn’t that adorable 🙂

The Rules:

1. If you are tagged/nominated, you have to post 11 facts about yourself.
2. Then you answer the 11 questions the tagger has given you & make 11 questions for the people you are going to tag.
3. Tag 11 more bloggers, and let them know.
4. No tagging back.
5. The person you tag must have fewer than 200 followers.

11 facts about me:

  1. I love cats.
  2. I multitask all the time and can’t stop it.
  3. I wish I could really play guitar, because I only took lessons for one semester in high school
  4. My favorite food is the potato.
  5. I have lots of scary “what-if” dreams about what my family and friends would do if I died, like in The Lovely Bones.
  6. My favorite movie is The Lion King.
  7. I like going out with a fresh face, but also adore wearing liquid eyeliner.
  8. I had an imaginary friend when I was young, but I could never remember to play with her.
  9. My favorite kind of ice cream is Haagen-Dazs’ Caramel Cone.
  10. I love cats and will name my first one Mufasa.
  11. I hate the heat.

Now I answer the questions that Savannah posed to me.

My 11 questions for these fine bloggers:

  1. If you could be any music album, which album would you be? This is a fun question! I think I’d be Florence + the Machine’s Lungs, because it’s powerful, deep and soul-searching. 
  2. What is the first thing you do every morning? (After you pee.) Brush my teeth, because I can’t stand the taste of morning breath.
  3. Which book has impacted your life the most? The Alchemist. The journey to find one’s purpose and recognize the universe’s signs really resonated with me at the right time.
  4. Which cartoons/comics did you watch/read as a child? Arthur
  5. What is your favorite day of the week, and why? Saturdays, because it’s the first day I can usually sleep in.
  6. If you could be a city, which city would you be? Seattle-literary, coastal, chill.
  7. Who is your favorite fictional protagonist? Granger, Hermione Granger.
  8. White, red or rosé? White.
  9. Why did you start blogging? I wanted to share my stories and thoughts with the world and publishing takes too long.
  10. What are your goals as a blogger? To network with cool writers and visionaries and make writing a daily routine.
  11. How did you spend your last birthday? I had a joint birthday party with a friend and invited our close friends over to my house.

Okay now for my 11 questions.

1. What’s the last good meal you ate?

2. If you had an alter ego, what would his/her name be?

3. What’s an animal you are afraid of and why?

4. What are your top 3 favorite buildings?

5. What’s your favorite language?

6. Do you believe in Internet addiction?

7. What’s one song you love but still don’t know all the words to?

8. What’s one of your favorite books from childhood?

9. What’s a common misconception people have of you?

10. What’s your most rebellious moment in your life?

11. What’s your favorite inspiring quote about writing?

Finally, my last duty is to nominate more bloggers for the award!

NaNoWriMo 2011

Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month and if you’re looking for support while you attempt this crazy writing sprint, then you’re in luck! I’ve collected some great links for you to check out.

What are your novel ideas for this year? Share them below if you want and add me as a writing buddy on the NaNo website!

Muslim American Girls MAGazine

I love discovering fresh, enthusiastic youth who decide to write their own future and create something new to share with the world.

While looking through American Girl MAGazine in 2006, Shabnam learned about a Jewish teenaged girl who started her own magazine.

“I thought that was really amazing! I also realized I had much of the same interests as that girl: reading, writing, photography, computers, art, etc. Then, I thought, Is there a magazine for Muslim girls?”

An important thing to do before starting your own project is to research what is already out there and what has been done, which is exactly what Shabnam did.

The online magazine looks professionally designed with the appropriate colorful, youthful energy complimenting the style of stories and articles provided. The content is divided into various categories from Health, Fashion, International, Poetry, Recipes, Faith and more.

If you’d like to contribute to Muslim American Girls MAGazine, they are looking for contributing writers so apply today!

Writing Myths

One of my favorite things to read when I was younger was Greek mythology. I loved reading about fantastical creatures and vengeful gods, clever tricksters and innocent bystanders whose stories would help explain the natural phenomenon of our world. My favorite gods were Athena, Artemis and Hermes.

Almost every culture has its own set of myths from the Egyptians to the Japanese to the Norse to the Irish to the Native Americans. I have to say Egyptian mythology is my second favorite. For some reason I am just obsessed with pyramids, mummies and the whole concept of the afterlife and the underworld. Creepy but awesome stuff!

Now no one is really writing original myths anymore, but you can see how influential they are in modern-day literature like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Abandon by Meg Cabot and Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney. The same kinds of themes and characters are so powerful that writers just can’t help but steal from them:)

If you do want to come up with your own myths, there’s a great little writing activity over at Scholastic.com that helps young writers brainstorm myths. It’s part of a section all about Myths, Fairytales and Folktales, where you can read stories from around the world and get lots of helpful advice from published authors like Jane Yolen and Jon Sciezka.

Feel free to share your favorite myths or send me your unique ones.

Happy writing!

Favorite Authors Prompt

This writing prompt is thanks to Writing Inspired, a great blog you should all check out. Find pictures of 3-4 of your favorite authors and write why they inspire you.

Randa Abdelfattah

  • uses great voice
  • tells stories of meaning
  • brings diversity of characters-Muslims, multicultural upbringing etc.
  • witty, sarcastic, strong female characters
  • is also a human rights lawyer!

Meg Cabot

  • hilarious
  • writes in various genres and rocks at all of them
  • knows her mythology and legends
  • great female protagonists
  • positive and encourage influence
  • builds a great community of readers, writers, fans on her website
  • entertaining blogger

Gail Carson Levine

  • very humble and wise
  • wonderful, unique retellings of fairy tales
  • makes princesses extraordinary
  • very helpful writing blog
  • wrote a great Writing Magic book
  • I love Ella Enchated!

J.K. Rowling

  • wrote a fantastic tale worthy of 7 books
  • one of the earliest influences that writing was magical
  • balances fun and action with seriousness and deep values
  • remembered a huge complex cast of characters in a fantasy world
  • also a great speaker

Let me know who your favorite authors are and why!

International Fake Journaling Month

One of the reasons I love writing is being able to escape into another world and live a stranger’s life.

Journaling, on the other hand, I despised unless I was extremely emotional and needed to unload my thoughts some where safely and securely. It was never really a “fun” thing that I would keep up daily. I wish I could have though. It’s a skill of dedication that I most definitely need to require.

But then I found out about International Fake Journaling Month, which perfectly marries the idea of journal writing and fiction writing in a unique 30 day challenge.

From April 1 to April 30, you keep a fake journal and pore out the thoughts and feelings of a person other than yourself. Now’s the chance to imagine yourself as a CIA agent or monkey trainer or president of a third world country about to depose you.

The idea was created by Roz Stendahl, a self-proclaimed lifelong journal keeper, in 2001.

All you need to participate is a journal, a pen, and maybe some coloring utensils if you want to get crafty and draw pictures and doodles along with your entries.

Set aside a bit of time each day to write in your fake journal in order to make the month worth it. Unlike NaNoWriMo, there’s no word count you have to fulfill, so there should be decidedly less pressure.

If you’d like to enter the IFJM challenge and win some cool journals for your entries, you can publish them on your own blog or send photocopies of the spreads to rozjournalrat@gmail.com.

Make sure to read tips on how to prepare your fake journal and start coming up with ideas for the character you are going to become for one month.

At the very least, this exercise will work as a longer sustained writing prompt and should jog some inspiration for a future short story or novel idea.