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

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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!