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Writing Your First TV Sitcom Pilot

Out of everything in the entertainment spectrum, writing a script is arguably one of the most challenging accomplishments ever. It's time-consuming, a pain, creatively demanding, and is a rarity for any person to do. Outside of the problematic nature attached to writing a script, as a whole, writing a TV pilot is the most severe form of scripts to do.

Considering longevity is deeply rooted in writing a script, it's nearly impossible for any person to think of enough story to create a captivating enough script. Nonetheless, people have done it, and there are numerous shows and, more specifically, sitcoms known throughout the world.

With the subject of a TV Sitcom in mind, this an entirely different niche altogether in the TV pilot realm. Since sitcoms have such a large attachment of history behind them, many people look for a ton of expertise in someone's first TV sitcom pilot. As difficult of a notion this might be, it doesn't mean someone can't accomplish it.

No matter what your interests in the subject might, down below, we’re going to discuss various information to help you write your first TV sitcom pilot. Although this doesn’t go over any specifics of character development or plotlines, it’ll help you begin the building blocks needed to create a script to the best of your ability. Within no time, you’ll be on your way to creating your first TV sitcom pilot script. Let’s get started!

Photo credit: Digital Spy

Half Hour or Hour

Before anything else, you need to determine how long each episode is going to be. Although most sitcoms are around a half-hour in length, there are quite a few new ones that fall under the hour category. Either way, you need to determine which route you want to go. Considering the time is what'll influence how much you'll write, you must think of this first before anything else.

Both options offer a different advantage to one another and are cognizant of what's selling more nowadays. Depending on the time, some production companies might be more interested in a half-hour show over an hour, or either or, thus, why you need to do the research to see which is better. Either way, a half-hour allows you to write less with a quicker story, whereas the hour option offers more time and a longer story.

Determine if it’s a Serial or Episodic

Once you understand the length you wish your TV sitcom pilot is, it's time to think about the style of the show. Although the style can mean many things, this primarily means if you want it to be a serial or episodic show. Yes, anthology series do exist, but they tend to not fall under the sitcom genre.

Either way, a serial show means the following episode is a continuation of the previous episode. Whereas, an episodic series means each episode can stand on its own. A show like All In The Family tends to be more of an episodic series, whereas The Office is more of a serial show. Like the length attached to it, they both offer advantages to one another, but it’s crucial to determine this before the next step.


Once you have the length and style of the show in mind, now is where you’ll begin outlining. Although you most likely already have a story idea and how to tell it already, that isn’t enough. The best shows in existence had years of outlining and planning behind them, why shouldn’t you do the same? Of course, don’t do it to the point where you never finish the script, but get in the habit of outlining your script.

An excellent way to outline the pilot is to come up with a character treatment. This will help you map out all of the characters and who they are specifically. From there, you'll outline the main plotlines and scenes attached to the script that'll help your writing process. Once you can get this far, the rest starts to get far.

Start Writing

This part seems very self-explanatory, but it needs to be said. The only way you're going to finish your masterful tv script is by writing it, so get writing! The best advice for any script, no matter the genre, is to have a designated time every single day for writing it. Whether it's at night, during your lunch break, or in the morning, come up with a timeframe that works for you. That way, you'll create the best TV sitcom pilot script you can do.


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