Last Saturday I posted about how I’ve been teaching myself to write sketches. I finally finished my first one this week. I can’t tell you what it’s about for fear of someone stealing the idea. Yesterday I started working on another one.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- Sketches are 2 to 5 minutes. Think of any sketch you’ve seen on SNL, MAD TV, or Kids in the Hall. It’s just a short scene that tells a story.
- You don’t have to spend a lot of time on character development when you are writing…how a character looks or acts or speaks. Sure, you’ve got something in mind for each character and you can convey that in your writing. Or if you end up getting to direct or help develop the sketch, you can help the cast by giving them feedback. Otherwise, leave the character development up to the players and director.
- Think of an idea and then flip it or exaggerate it. That’s true for stand up comedy too. While writing, I didn’t always know how the sketch was going to end. And it doesn’t have to have a happy ending or firm closure at all. But I kept asking myself “what if” and that kept the sketch moving for me.
- I think it’s easier to write dialogue. If you aren’t happy, you just change what someone says and how the other characters react. When writing a book or story, editing seems to cause a lot more hair pulling for me (and I don’t have much hair now anyway).
- Keep your cast of characters small. Typically there’s action or conversation going on between a handful of people, and there might be other non-speaking roles in the background. Keep it simple and small.
- Think about a budget. Sure, you might not be putting the sketch on but lots of special effects or CGI might not be possible for the people who are performing your sketch on a tight budget. Again, keep things simple and small.
- Even though it’s short, give your sketch a title. It’s important as a whole and gives it foundation.
And that’s it! I’m having a lot of fun with this exercise and I feel like I’m learning a lot by doing it.