How to Start a Sketch, Part II, Lists

Lists are very similar to free writing, but a little more focused. You give yourself a question or category and then as quickly as possible you write a list of answers. Here is a list of categories you could use to generate lists:

  • Everyday locations
  • Things that people do that seem strange to you
  • Examples of everyday hypocrisy
  • Characters that you are well suited to play
  • Characters that you are not well suited to play
  • Characters from fiction, film or history that you would love to play

You can use lists to flesh out a sketch idea before you set down to write it. For instance, first come up with a list of ordinary situations, ones with which you have a lot of experience or ones where you have seen lots of examples in plays, films or TV. Next pick one, and make a list of all the ordinary things that you might expect to happen in that situation. Then, make a list of extraordinary, unusual, strange or weird things that rarely happen in that situation. Finally, pick the one unusual thing that you find most funny and brainstorm a list of examples and variations of this out of place element in an ordinary situation. You now have a premise for a game and lots of ideas to heighten that premise. The actual writing of the sketch should flow fast.

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