As previous posts will indicate, I have spent many years dabbling with various comedy scripts. I’ve regularly entered the BBC Writer’s Room Sitcom scheme, for example, with a couple of other initiatives and competitions along the way. I have four or five scripts drifting around, but so far failed to get anywhere with them.

Having digested several books on the subject, I determined that I must have been missing something. I needed to fill a gap – I just didn’t know where the gap was, or what it looked like. 10 days ago the possibility of an answer was dangled before me in a tantalising manner on Twitter.

Now, I don’t consider the North Yorkshire coast to be “in the Newcastle area” BUT it’s easy enough to get to once you brave the inherent weakness of the Gateshead and Newcastle traffic system. If you’re prepared to put up with the idea that there are just two main roads into the biggest city in the North East then you’ve got the patience to get there. Probably.

When I took the decision to book a place, I was expecting the following:

A One Day Intensive Workshop for those interested in writing Comedy for Television, Radio, Theatre, On-Line Content, Stand-Up etc.

The Workshop is run by award-winning Writer and Comedian Bennett Arron who has had over 30 sitcom scripts and a feature film produced on television and has written for several BAFTA-winning programmes.

The Workshop will include:

  • How To Start From a Blank Page
  • Characterisation
  • Plot Development
  • Dialogue
  • Joke Writing
  • Story Arcs
  • Formatting
  • How to Submit Scripts to Producers

Overall, I think it delivered, although I’m a bit vague on the section on “joke writing” as I don’t recall anything about it.

Bennett Arron runs the workshop, which (I believe) he takes with him to various towns and cities that he’s touring, so there’s a chance it might be near you soon. I’d recommend attending if you can (and the fee suits you) for the reason below.

I found it very useful, with a few things crystallised, especially the importance of structure with regards to sub plots, which had somehow escaped me. Some live script writing exercises throughout the day helped to drive this home. What probably helped me the most, however, was being in the company of other writers while doing some actual writing.

Image credit: Dave Hermann via Flickr

Usually in such company, conversation is about anything except writing (no doubt in fear of uttering some Pseud’s Corner-level nonsense) so it was fun to be sat shouting out ideas, and discussing them, as the group developed an idea for a sitcom, the six key characters (four main, two secondary), and a script outline. They were a good bunch, a nice mix of people from different backgrounds all looking, I think, for more clarity in writing comedy.

(I should add that much of this took place against a backdrop of a live football screening followed by some sub-X Factor karaoke in The Stack, a nearby collection of container freight organized as a giant outdoor pub. Bennett held things together superbly given the interruptions.)

I would like to say that I left the session with a clearer approach to writing a sitcom script. Certainly in my mind right now it seems clearer, but we’ll find out when I sit down to start again…

Head over the Bennett’s website to check on his upcoming gigs and workshops.