Submit a script

IMPORTANT NOTE: London Comedy Writers DOES NOT commission, create or produce work for individual writers, nor do we offer representation. We’re a not-for-profit group, run by volunteers, that facilitates mutual support, networking and table reads. We cannot offer 1-2-1 feedback outside of our meetings.

The format of a typical London Comedy Writers meeting includes a maximum of three sketches and a sitcom script, so material in these formats will get preferential treatment, although we will also read webisodes and shorts. We never read feature length scripts. Writers who regularly attend meetings in support of their peers will get priority placement on the waiting list. If your script is chosen for a reading, we ask the writer to bring along enough hard copies for all the actors (including anyone narrating or reading the stage directions). Please print at A4 size.

Before submitting your script, you should consider the following points:

Story

Write characters with heart (give them flaws to make them relatable) and understand the role they play in your story arc as all major characters should have some kind of narrative function. Refer to the Bechdel Test to ensure your female characters aren’t simply an adjunct to the men. Also, bear in mind that, if your central characters are all straight, white, able-bodied, neurotypical, middle class males, you will be presenting a narrow reflection of our world that lacks the diverse representation commissioners and producers increasingly look for in comedy.

Familiarise yourself with the structure of a sitcom (acts, A, B and C plots, and beat sheets) so that you’re able to the create the tension that will keep your audience engaged. You should aim to establish your main characters and the rules and tone of their world within the first five pages of your script. Fewer if you can! You’ll need a good hook to keep a commissioner’s script reader, and subsequently an audience, engaged and tuned in.

Medium

Is your script intended for television, internet or radio? Decide this before you start to write and format your script accordingly – avoid leaving stage directions in your radio script because you changed format halfway through writing! Think about the benefits and restrictions of each medium. If your script is particularly surreal then, unless you have a big budget, it’s possibly more suited to radio and the listener’s imagination!

Length

The length of your script should depend upon the medium and your chosen broadcaster. For example, a typical BBC sitcom will last 30 minutes (sometimes 15 minutes for radio), a Channel 4 sitcom/comedy drama (excluding commercials) might be only 25 or 40 minutes long while the same is shorter still on Sky. Material intended for the internet is much shorter, ranging from 3-15 minutes. Owing to time restrictions, we regret that we’re unable to read scripts that run longer than 40 minutes.

Using the rough assumption that your script will run at one minute per page, we ask that your sitcom runs between 20 and 40 pages. If your submission runs over, we’ll ask you to edit it down before it is read. If it runs under (because it’s part of a web series or a 15 minute radio sitcom) then we may ask you to supply an additional episode from the same series to be read with it. We’ll try to time the reading for you on the night!

Formatting

We ask writers to adhere to the standard screenplay format when submitting scripts for a table read at London Comedy Writers. A badly formatted script will be impossible for our actors to read and any professional production company would reject it outright, so it’s in your interest to learn the industry standard. Follow this formatting guide from the BBC for your table read with us but you should ultimately research your broadcaster’s preferred format when submitting your work professionally.

Script formatting software
Final Draft
, Celtx, Highland 2, Scrivener and Writer Duet are specialist script formatting software used by many in the screenwriting industry. They’re easy to use and both offer a free trial before committing to buy. You can, of course, produce basic scripts in Word but you may find the formatting process slightly laborious! Here is some advice from bang2write.com

Feedback

If you think your script is a finished product, ready to pitch, then please don't send it to us. We're here to help writers who are a few drafts into their story, willing to hear feedback from the group and open to rewrites that will improve the script. If that sounds like you, please send us your script: londoncomedywriters@gmail.com

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