fellowship deadlines are around the corner, and someone had a few questions about specs.
I’m currently on my 3rd draft for my Happy Endings spec and have a few questions about it.
1.) I have a main character drifting aimlessly through the B & C plots and not really contributing anything to the story should I even bother including them? Outside of a few lines in the cold open.
I feel like these programs want you to demonstrate your understanding of the show’s voice, which means incorporating every main character into an A-B-C storyline. Shows like Community have characters barely appear in an episode and it works. I’m also not Dan Harmon though.
2.) I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to introduce new characters into a spec. I understand not creating new characters where the entire episode revolves around them, but what about a minor character that serves the plot? For instance I included Penny’s boss, a character never mentioned before, but fits into the show’s universe.
3.)Is it ok to introduce new locations? I’ve only been using established sets so far.
4.) What do judges want more in a sitcom spec? One bursting with jokes or funny plots that are tightly constructed? I guess this depends on the sitcom as well.
good questions. here are my thoughts:
1) all of the main characters definitely need to be in the script, and they should contribute to the story. even if a character isn’t the focus of the B or C storyline, i think the characters should have a goal and a point of view, whether to help or hinder another character’s goal. for happy endings, i find that they usually pair off 2 characters per storyline.
2) i think creating new minor characters is ok, as long as, like you said, you don’t make the episode revolve around them.
one thing i try to avoid is creating characters that would become part of the show’s mythology, like parents or relatives. i think it’s fine to expand on small characters from previous episodes, though. for penny’s boss, not sure where that would fall.
when i introduce new characters, i try to focus the main conflict between the show’s existing characters, and not have the new character engage in the main conflict. so if you’re writing a spec of happy endings and create penny’s boss, i’d try to have the boss create a situation that creates conflict between penny and the gang, rather than having all of the conflict be between penny and the boss.
3) i think there’s more leeway with single cam shows than multi cam shows. as with introducing new characters, i would try not to make the story revolve around the new location.
here are a few of the things i remember various people telling me over the years:
- if it’s a comedy, it has to be funny.
- have a unique premise.
- have clear A, B, and C stories.
- show that you can match the voice of the characters.
- also, match the tone of the show.
hope that helps, and good luck!