Teleplay Tips & Tricks
Half-Hour Sitcom Construction & Plot
Half-hour sitcoms are easier to plot than one-hour shows, but they
have a traditional pattern as well.
Start with a Teaser that states the premise of the episode (tells us
what the story is going to be about) and ends on a big laugh. The
seems to work best when it comes at the expense of the hero because
it makes him or her sympathetic and also establishes that the problem
is going to be significant - as in personal to someone we love.
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 now backfires and makes the situation worse instead of better.
A new plan then resolves everything in the last scene of the act.
The Tag brings together all the main characters and lets them get a
good laugh out of what's happened, This time, the laugh usually comes
not at the expense of the hero but from whatever other character got
the hero into trouble in the first place. After all, the way we know
that the hero has won is that he or she is now getting more respect.
There we go, another sitcom perfectly plotted!