Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The spit draft

with 4 comments

The cast of Community

The best thing I ever learned about script writing has come from working on Community. The creator, Dan Harmon, had us write these things called “spit drafts,” which is basically an outline for your script. It’s the shape of that script. You write out the script scene by scene with dummy dialogue that you’ll later replace with actual jokes. For instance, the character of Jeff walks into the room, and Jeff says, “Here’s the point where I say that we should all go get a sandwich.” And then the character of Annie will say, “I don’t want to do that.” And then another character will say, “I have a joke here.” You can have them do whatever you want, but you just have to get through the scene and have all of what needs to happen in that scene baldly stated.

If you can’t get through a script that way, then chances are your story doesn’t work. If you’re stuck and you feel like you have writer’s block, this is a really helpful method because it distinguishes between, “Okay, do you have story problems or are you having a hard time writing the dialogue?” Also, when you write really quickly, you end up writing really good jokes anyway; it’s almost as if you trick your brain into thinking that it doesn’t matter.

Megan Ganz

Written by nevalalee

July 2, 2015 at 9:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. I love Community, and I’m glad I learned this trick today. It’s just what I need.


    July 2, 2015 at 10:51 am

  2. Awesome and thanks for the trick


    July 3, 2015 at 2:46 am

  3. Wonder whether this works for novels too. Anyone tried this?


    July 3, 2015 at 8:33 am

  4. Most of my first drafts are basically just this, particularly for dialogue. Every line I write is a placeholder for something else, until it isn’t.


    July 6, 2015 at 11:08 am

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