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Old 12-14-2012, 09:19 AM   #1
BetsyComedy
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Question General Query Q's for my comedy sitcom

I will be sending in my query either as a scripted comedy sitcom or as a semi scripted comedy reality show.

I asked my friend the novel writer to please read my query letter. He edited it and removed the 1st sentence in which I said I am submitting my show for their consideration. But that's how I've seen the screenwriting queries. Is it different for books? Is that why he removed it? Should I keep it?

My mom who also wrote a novel, removed my contact info (address) from the bottom of the page and put it on the top right. Is that right?

I know both have read books on how to do these things but I am not sure if the same rules apply to a screenplay? Any info appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:18 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by BetsyComedy View Post
I will be sending in my query either as a scripted comedy sitcom or as a semi scripted comedy reality show.

I asked my friend the novel writer to please read my query letter. He edited it and removed the 1st sentence in which I said I am submitting my show for their consideration. But that's how I've seen the screenwriting queries. Is it different for books? Is that why he removed it? Should I keep it?

My mom who also wrote a novel, removed my contact info (address) from the bottom of the page and put it on the top right. Is that right?

I know both have read books on how to do these things but I am not sure if the same rules apply to a screenplay? Any info appreciated. Thanks!

The first is just redundant. Obviously you're submitting it for their consideration, why else are you submitting it, you know?

The second, I don't think it matters all that much, but remember that the agent is likely reading your query on his or her Blackberry or similar screen, while doing other things. The reason people move contact info down is so the agent doesn't have to scroll scroll to find the text. Your mother is correct in a business-letter sense, but, well, as above.
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:20 AM   #3
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Thank you Cornflake. I think too I need to change my query to a treatment because now that I think about it, that's what I read before that sitcoms require. Though the info won't be much different.

I can remove the 1st two lines. I just didn't want to lose points for not being formal. I do end with saying that I hope they see the potential for my idea or my vision or something, so that may be enough. I guess it's implied I seek an agent, why else would I write them lol.

Do we need the agencies contact info in an email the way we do in a snail mail do you know?
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:41 AM   #4
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OK so I removed the first 2 lines in which I say "I'd like to submit...." but the problem is, that's where I gave the name of my series and also stated: Dear Mr or Ms. so and so. Now that this first paragraph is gone, I don't know where to address the actual person? Because now I go into the log line and synopsis.

The other option is to just write the agents name on top where I have their address and I guess I could then add a line for the name of the show.

I have been trying to look at query examples for TV shows but it's not completely clear. This may sound dumb, but do I actually write out "log line" and "synopsis" or not? Nothing I seem to read is consistent. Any screenwriters that can answer these questions? Thanks.
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Old 12-17-2012, 11:15 AM   #5
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Thank you Cornflake. I think too I need to change my query to a treatment because now that I think about it, that's what I read before that sitcoms require. Though the info won't be much different.

I can remove the 1st two lines. I just didn't want to lose points for not being formal. I do end with saying that I hope they see the potential for my idea or my vision or something, so that may be enough. I guess it's implied I seek an agent, why else would I write them lol.

Do we need the agencies contact info in an email the way we do in a snail mail do you know?
Wait, general question - you say you hope they see the potential in your idea or vision or what have you. What're you attempting to garner with the submission?

You're looking for an agent, yes?

You're not looking for someone to make a series you have an idea for - right? Unless the tag you have is meant to indicate you do this professionally now, though I'd think you'd have an agent in that case, though perhaps you're just looking for a new one.

I might put the salutation and perhaps a line about why specifically you're targeting that agent as an intro.
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Old 12-18-2012, 06:53 AM   #6
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see queryshark.blogspot.com
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:54 AM   #7
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Thanks, I checked it out and will check it out in detail tomorrow. I didn't notice them indicating "log line" and "synopsis" so I assume it's not actually put in there. But also, I didn't really see a true log line in the examples. The 1st paragraph basically starts out talking about the entire story rather than a quick log line summary. It's basically how my original was written. It's how I prefer mine, but whether it meets the requirements I am not sure. But at least this may help me as far as being a better writer, if I don't figure out the format question there. It's a useful site, thank you.
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:17 PM   #8
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Queryshark, while a great site, is a literary agent. The query 'rules' are different for books.
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Old 12-18-2012, 11:11 PM   #9
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Hi cornflake, my idea is for a sitcom and reality show. When you say literary agent, does that mean for books only or does it cover screenwriting as well?

Also, your question up above, what I am trying to do is to sign on with an agent, if not, then my 2nd step is to sell to a production company.
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by BetsyComedy View Post
Hi cornflake, my idea is for a sitcom and reality show. When you say literary agent, does that mean for books only or does it cover screenwriting as well?

Also, your question up above, what I am trying to do is to sign on with an agent, if not, then my 2nd step is to sell to a production company.
Generally books only - most agents specialize in one field or another, though occasionally some cross.

If you're looking for an agent to sell the sitcom idea you're probably not going to have much luck unless you're a sitcom writer by trade.
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Old 12-20-2012, 10:24 AM   #11
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Well everyone's gotta start somewhere, no one was born a sitcom writer by trade. I am practical but not easily discouraged.
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Old 12-21-2012, 05:45 PM   #12
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Well everyone's gotta start somewhere, no one was born a sitcom writer by trade. I am practical but not easily discouraged.
Comedy writers don't usually start with writing sitcoms, Betsy. I used to know a lot of successful comedy writers--by which I mean people recognised their names, or they'd had multiple series in production--and they all started off smaller. They usually started off writing for radio, mostly for sketch shows, established their reputation there, and then moved up to writing whole shows; or they started off in standup, and moved on to writing for other people.

Things might be different in America (I'm in the UK), of course. Trying to start off with a whole sitcom seems extraordinarily ambitious to me, and a very difficult way to get going, too. Shorter pieces are quicker to write, easier to place, and will get you established, I'd think. At least, that's how it worked for my friends, one of whom won an Emmy, so he must have been doing something right.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:00 PM   #13
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Betsy, how much research have you done on this? I get that you're excited and want to jump in with an idea you think is awesome, but in most cases, what you need to get a screenwriting agent isn't a query or a spec script.

Pick two or three existing shows that are similar in tone to what you want to write. Now write a script for an episode of each, doing your best to keep the characters in character as they're portrayed on the show. Those are going to be your portfolio.

Even if you get an agent, you're not likely to be selling spec scripts off the bat. To do that, you have to catch the interest of people higher up than you're going to have access to as a newbie. You'll do good to get a gig as a junior writer on a sitcom, which can lead to connections and bigger opportunities down the line.

Most spec scripts never get read, much less produced. Networks have onstaff writers that they'll turn to for pilots when they need them, and those pilots will most likely be tailor-made based on what the network wants made, rather than being created and then shopped to a network.

On the reality show side, there's no real script involved there. Most are "semi-scripted," but the shows are built around the characters, not usually around a pre-provided script.
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Old 12-22-2012, 04:49 AM   #14
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Cyia,
My show can be a comedy sitcom but because of the subject matter, I decided reality TV would work really well, and help ofset the reality shows on TV that give reality tv a bad name. It will be the reality show for people who hate reality shows.

I know a lot of reality shows are at least semi scripted and that's what I want to do. I have the script and there is freedom to make changes based on the actors personality. But the punchlines would not change.

CYE claims to be 80% improv and 20% scripted, and it works well. Of course Larry David is brilliant.

I see what you're saying about writing for other shows. It's so hard when you have your heart set on your own thing. But I totally understand why these varioous avenues would help me get my foot in the door. I have actually had it in the back of my mind, what show could I write for? All the best comedy shows are off the air. I do have some great sketch comedy I would love to submitt to SNL, years ago it use to be funny. The Office is another option.

I do wish I also lived in So Cal, it would really help me get the connecitons I need.

Hack, you are also right. I should look into smaller gigs so I can put something on my resume, make connections, gain experience. My problem is I am not a stand up comedian and so many started off this way. So I have to find other means to show what I can do, like you said, funny radio spots is an option I hope.

I will do what it takes for sure and I am patient, though I do wish I began this journey earlier in life. I guess I've just had my eye on the prize and on perfecting the episodes more so than the long process and the various routes I must take to get there.

Thank you all again for the suggestions.

Last edited by BetsyComedy; 12-22-2012 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:19 PM   #15
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This is what I was trying to say.

People look for an agent to try to find a job writing, not to sell a sitcom idea because that just doesn't really happen, unless one is a sitcom writer already.

Cyia is right that your portfolio should have some spec scripts of existing shows in it - but having a pilot has become kind of a necessity as I understand it. You do apparently have a pilot script (for your original show); you may also have scripts for current shows, which would be good. You need both to show what you can do.

As to shows you could potentially write for, the Office is out, it was cancelled.

Once you have 50 posts, you can post your own stuff in SYW if you want; there's a screenwriting section, and maybe flesh out the reality thing more? I'm not sure I understand what you mean - reality show as like The Hills or like Real Housewives of Wherever? Curb isn't a reality show by any definition though.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:51 PM   #16
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This is what I was trying to say.

People look for an agent to try to find a job writing, not to sell a sitcom idea because that just doesn't really happen, unless one is a sitcom writer already.

Cyia is right that your portfolio should have some spec scripts of existing shows in it - but having a pilot has become kind of a necessity as I understand it. You do apparently have a pilot script (for your original show); you may also have scripts for current shows, which would be good. You need both to show what you can do.

As to shows you could potentially write for, the Office is out, it was cancelled.

Once you have 50 posts, you can post your own stuff in SYW if you want; there's a screenwriting section, and maybe flesh out the reality thing more? I'm not sure I understand what you mean - reality show as like The Hills or like Real Housewives of Wherever? Curb isn't a reality show by any definition though.
I forgot the office was ending, too bad because most of the actors leaving that show were replaceable, but not so easy to replace Steve. There were good episodes and really slow ones I feel I could have perked up.

I meant there are elements of Curb because like reality TV, it's not all scripted, that's all I meant, not that CYE is reality TV. I guess it will make more sense once I post my query after I have 50 postings. In my first postings here I was quick to say it won't be like current reality shows like the ones you mentioned. This isn't a trashy reality show about cat fights and drunks.

Picture for instance, Candid Camera. It's not that, but it's putting people in funny positions and seeing how they would react, except there is a purpose and storyline for the main characters that continues each week.
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:45 AM   #17
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Nice to see another Oregonian in the forum. All I know about query letters is that they need to be direct and to the point right off. As was pointed out earlier, this is more of an informal business letter in that you want to make sure that the agent has the info on the project almost right off. Certainly they will want to know about you, but that doesn't go right at the top. Tell them what it is you want and then tell them who you are. Make it clear that it is about the project, and that that is what they are going to be trying to sell. Anyway, that's all I really know. A query is an introduction of a project, and a person, but the project should be more important. Anyway, that's what I think.
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