- Next: 20 Apr 2021 (5 x Tuesday evenings)
“I came to Chris’s course knowing how to write but never having written comedy. I’ve been stretched, challenged and had crushing moments of self-doubt but his sitcom writing courses have been the highlight of my year. The courses are well-structured, clear and packed full of useful tips and Chris provides insightful feedback on weekly homework assignments which helped me progress. Looking forward to more!” KP
You need to have completed Writing Narrative Comedy part 1 to do this course. If this is not the case and you would like to be considered please contact firstname.lastname@example.org - but please note that priority is given to part 1 students.
Complete the first draft and treatment of your script in 5 weeks! You can work in comedy drama, studio audience or even mockumentary forms. You'll produce a 30 minute television or radio script. You will be taken through a structured approach to producing your script and will be given deadlines to complete each phase of the work. And across the course we'll analyse the opening episodes of five different shows in a range of styles to uncover all the writing insights you'll need.
You’ll have all the scenes you produced in the first part, and perhaps you have now started constructing your pilot script. You’ll also have an early draft of your treatment. The course provides a supportive group and deadlines with feedback and coaching from Chris to get the job done over 5 weeks. Here's how you'll get there:
This week we’ll look more closely at the plot breakdown of your episode and will closely look at opening episodes our first two example shows which you will watch in preparation - Fleabag episode 1, series 2 and Blackbooks episode 1, series 1 (which are in two very different styles) to gain insights into how plots unfold; considering here both a quite busy more cartoon show (Black Books) and a more comedically dramatic show (Fleabag). We’ll also look at drawing up a beat sheet for your episode, so getting a handle on the overall flow. This week we’ll also make sure we’re clear on the style and approach of your show show so that you are writing in the right style for your idea.
Homework: Treatment/ beat sheet
In preparation you will watch two contrasting sitcoms/comedy dramas. This time it's the opening episodes of the first series of Ghosts and Stath Lets Flats. In the session this week we will discuss and analyse the first acts of these shows to understand approaches to introducing characters and the world of the show, whilst simultaneously getting the storylines in motion. The techniques we will uncover are not particular to these shows - as we will see, the same approach can be seen in the Fleabag and Black Books episodes. They are fundamental TV comedy storytelling techniques. This will set you up to write your own first act where you set up your world and characters and get the opening episode's storylines up and running. There will also be time in the class to ask questions about issues arising in your own writing.
Homework: Write act 1
This week we'll discuss how the storylines of the shows considered last week develop through act 2 - the body of the show. We'll see how the dilemmas and challenges introduced in act 1 are heightened with fresh complications, reaching a peak at the end of act 2. We'll see this in action in the Ghosts and Stath Lets Flats episodes we started looking at last week and we'll also look at an episode of Friday Night Dinner. This week our perspective on developing your story in act 2 will be how characters' botched attempts to solve problems create further problems. This will set you up across the next two weeks to write your own act 2.
Homework: Begin writing your own act 2
This week we look at act 1 and act 2 of two more shows to give us a fresh perspective and further examples of the techniques we are working with. As we will see, there are perennial techniques that cut across shows of all different kinds. You can also ask questions about issues you are finding with drafting your own second act. This week we will bring the opening episodes of Hello Ladies and Chewing Gum into the mix as we consider how characters' flawed attempts to get what they want end up pushing it further away - and how this can drive the escalation of the comedy across act 2.
Homework: Complete the writing of act 2
This final week we will discuss and analyse the third act of all the shows we have been analysing to uncover key techniques in bringing your script to a satisfying and funny conclusion. Plus we look at episode 1 of Miranda and Schitt's Creek to further consolidate our learning. We'll also look at how you can balance having a complete story in episode one whilst also setting in motion storylines that will unfold across the whole series. We'll also consider questions of whether your central character wins or loses and the distinction between winning a battle versus winning the war (which they will never do!) and also the central place 'false dawns' have in the conclusion of narrative.
Homework: Complete your script! This week we’ll also revisit your treatments and talk more about competitions and pitching
Dates and booking
Tuesday 20th April - 18th May 2021Tuesday 20th April 2021, 7pm - 9pm (5 x Tuesday evenings)
If you cannot make the live sessions, you can watch the videos of the sessions in your own time. You will still be fully part of the group, interacting via Trello and receiving feedback.
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This course is run by Chris Head.