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10/06/2001 - Half-Hour Teleplay Construction & Plot

Teleplay Tips & Tricks

Half-Hour Teleplay Construction & Plot

Half-hour shows, aka sitcoms, are easier to plot than hour shows, but they have a traditional pattern as well. Start with a Teaser that in essence states the premise of the episode (tells us what the story is going to be about) and ends on a big laugh, usually at the expense of the hero (especially if he or she is a former stand-up comic).

Act One then begins with the aftermath of what happened in the Teaser, and ends with the first big crisis that stems from it, a big crisis being something that is very upsetting to the hapless, humorous hero.

Act Two begins with the resolution of the previous tension, but a story twist now occurs so that whatever the hero did to save him or herself here ends up backfiring and making everything worse, until it's all resolved in the last scene of the act. The Tag then brings together all the main characters and lets them get a good laugh out of what's happened, This time, though, the hero gets more respect, and the big yuk usually comes at the expense of whatever other character it was who got the hero into the big mess in the first place!

There we go, another sitcom perfectly plotted!


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