Jan Jung on Sitcom Writing

How do I turn ideas into script?


If you have an idea, ask yourself where the idea originates. What is your starting point? Is it a character, is it a funny situation, or is it an idea of a setting? Don’t start with a script, but write down as many ideas you can about it. Remember, the characters are the most important thing to develop – if you don’t have good characters, you done have anything. So, if your setting is your beginning, then begin to think about who can populate it. Who is your protagonist who we root for, who’s dreams we follow? Why doesn’t it work – who is also put there to make life difficult for this person? Where does the comedy come from?

To start, write a few sketches between the characters. How would they act and speak to each other – develop their back-story as much as you can. Think about areas they don’t want to talk about, their flaws and what ultimately makes them likeable? Not necessarily, how nice they are, but what makes us like them. For example, Alan Partridge is an obnoxious person, but we love him because we know he knows has a lot of short comings. When he’s alone we see how horrible he feels about himself, but when he’s confronted with someone he takes on the role of a broadcaster and of someone who is on top of it all. His PA is the complete opposite of him and between the two of them, we can see who he is because she doesn’t need to say anything, its just the way she is – she gives us the image of him.

Mould and define your characters. Get the contrasts out. If you have two characters the same, nothing will come out of it. You can only get the bad side out of a character by exposing it to another character who is the exact opposite. When you have this, then you can define your storyline and your pilot script then begin on your dialogue and put it all together.

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