Spec is a Little Piece of Dirt

One of the first and best ways to attain skill in sitcom writing is to write for an existing show. Not that you're going to sell the script, competing with a dozen pro writers who sweat the show weekly. It's just that these shows provide a benchmark for evaluating your scripts.

There are plenty of shows to choose from. Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter list shows in production and the names of producers to contact for script submission. Your public library will have addresses of these publications, and may have copies. Otherwise, you can watch a show's rolling credits for the name of the executive producer. TV Market List publishes the names of shows in development. Even submitting a sample script for an oldie in syndication permits agents to evaluate your ability and sales potential. Find a show that reflects the type of humor you feel comfortable with. Watch as many different episodes as you can, noting plot treatment, character development, set locations, timing, and running gags. If possible, record the program on video cassette for review, and audio cassette to remember where you laughed.

The names of agents, with notations on who will and who won't look at unsolicited manuscripts, are available through The Writer's Guild of America (West) in Los Angeles and the Literary Market Place (LMP).

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