05 Apr 2018

Improvi... Doing It Ag… Making It Bett- REWRITING

dave's picture

Writing is re-writing, according to Ernest Hemingway, or Dorothy Parker, depending on which internet search engine you’re looking at. They probably both said it, and maybe Shakespeare said it before them, although he may well have nicked it from Aristophanes. ‘There is nothing new under the sun’, according to… oh I don’t know, google it, probably Plutarch or Donald Trump.
It’s another of those phrases that we say over and over, because there is a truth hidden within, without always understanding what it means. And I must admit, I don’t always understand myself.

26 Mar 2018


dave's picture

Character character character. I know I know I know, I keep going on about this, and hopefully you’re making sense of my explanations along the way.
 When we’re creating our new sitcom, or novel, movie, short story, sketch, we tend to separate out plot and character as the two big areas we need to concentrate on. Which makes sense, and makes life simpler when you’re staring at a blank screen.

21 Mar 2018

Hearing Voices

dave's picture

“How do I become a successful writer?”
 It’s probably the first question you ask, and the response is always the second-least satisfactory answer you’ll ever hear:
 “You need to find your voice.”
 To which you reply, because it’s the obvious follow-up,
 “How do I find my voice?”
 - and you’re then told the least satisfactory answer you’ll ever hear:
 “We won’t know until we hear it.”

02 Mar 2018

In The Beginning

dave's picture

You've watched the videos, attended the writing seminars, you've read the blogs and heard the advice. Don't worry at this stage about getting an agent. Don't worry at this stage about someone nicking your idea. All you have to do to make it in comedy is... write a brilliant script.

26 Feb 2018

Four Days In The Life Of A Freelance Writer

dave's picture

I’ve been attempting to read Ulysses by James Joyce (which is sometimes impenetrable but quite often very funny) and am hugely impressed that the writer manages to stretch the events of one day across 600 pages. I shall try something more modest here, and hopefully a little more accessible, to give an insight into what has been, so far, a typically untypical week for me.
If you’ve ever wondered what a freelance writer does all day, in between bouts of rewriting chapters for his book about writing, here’s a glimpse.

26 Feb 2018

Yeah But No But

dave's picture

“There’s two sides to every story” is another great cliché of writing that deserves more serious examination.
I’m sure it applies across all genres, but I only know about comedy, where so much of what we write hinges on the difference between how a character sees him or herself, and how the audience see them. All of us have a number of character traits and these are usually covered by a broad spectrum, but ‘two sides’ is a simple shorthand way of getting us to pronounce those traits in a more extreme form.

17 Feb 2017

What Kind Of Writer Are You?

dave's picture

I’ve been spending a lot of time working with writers recently, which is probably not surprising given what I do for a living. It did make me aware of the huge amount of time I spend as a writer working on my own.
American comedy writers spend a lot of time working with each other in ‘the room’, where I am assured the best comedy always shines through. I’ve worked in a few different rooms over the years, but have usually been too wrapped up in the work to stop and think about some quite important questions…

11 Nov 2016


dave's picture

Last time I suggested that comedy writers aren’t necessarily putting in enough work when it comes to creating new characters. All too often you see characters in sitcom responding to situations in random fashion.
Novelists and screenwriters spend an inordinate amount of time building character profiles. I don’t believe you and I need to think a great deal about backstory or what our comic inventions eat for breakfast, but there are several traits that comedy characters possess.

21 Sep 2016

More Joy Of Sketch

dave's picture

Welcome back, Newsjack. I’ve written before about sketch writing and I’m not going to stop saying it: if you want to make a living as a comedy writer this is the best place and the best way to start.
If you can master the skills of sketch writing you can, very quickly, build up credits on radio and possibly TV shows and become known as a comedy writer that producers will want to employ.

19 Nov 2015

Once More From The Top

dave's picture

James Cary and I did a podcast the other day about the first ten pages of your script, and last week I got a chance to see actors performing the opening scenes of several new sitcoms.
We’ve talked a lot about how important the first ten pages are to any sitcom script, and after watching that show I’d like to add a few more points…