We can't tell you exactly what to write. All we can tell you is that the spec should look EXACTLY like a professional script. However, we can give you some general guidelines:

  1. Remain true to the characters. The characters in your spec should sound like the characters and act like the characters in the show. Don't go changing them, because it'll sound like you don't know how to write. And it's best not to introduce new characters.

  2. Characters should be active. Not necessarily "active" meaning that they should continually be moving, but that the characters should not be passive and reactive. The fun of watching a show is seeing a character get in trouble, and how they choose to get out of it. In other words, make the situations arise out of stuff the characters do instead of stuff that happens to them.

So now we're at the tricky part . . . coming up with an idea. You need an interesting, funny story that the character in the show would do, but hasn't already been written. It has to be simple enough for sitcom fodder, but complex enough to give you two story climaxes.

How do you come up with a story? Generally, the best stories are character-driven. Yes, there's a funny situation, but the situation should be especially uncomfortable for the main character. One writing instructor explains it as follows: "If it's a situation you wouldn't want to be in, it's worth writing."

One way to generate stories is to make a list of the characters and their flaws. Then, choose a few flaws and find a story that highlights them comedically. For example, Niles and Frasier are both competitive. A story that highlights their competitive natures could be that they somehow get involved in a marathon and have to race each other. Come up with an A story for the lead character. And B and C (and even D stories, if the show usually has them) for the supporting characters.

No matter how tempting it is, don't change the basic premise of the show. You shouldn't write an episode where the lead character dies, permanently joins a convent, runs off to India, or gets married. Stick with the main characters and the types of problems they generally have.

Write an outline

Now that you have some ideas flying around in your head, it's time to write an outline. This is an ultra-detailed treatment of your script. The full, complete story. Every turn, every beat. It makes it much easier to write the script.

Write the spec

We don't have the space to write every single law about spec-writing. There are steadfast rules about what scripts should look like, though, and you should be aware of them. An extremely easy way to make sure that you're following the rules is to buy a script software program for your computer. The most common ones are Final Draft and Scriptware (they're pricey, costing at least $200, but they're what the pros use). It's nearly impossible to make a script look script-ish any other way. To find these (and other) scriptwriting programs, check out http://www.writerscomputer.com/hollywoodnet.htm or http://www.wga.org. Honestly, virtually every writer has a scriptwriting computer program, so of all the investments that you make, this should be the first one.

Rewrite it

You've written your script. It's perfect. It's hilarious. Now it's time to put it to the test and let friends read it. Take notes about what they thought and make changes. No matter how brilliant you are, your first draft WILL suck. Rewrite it over and over and over again, until you are confident that it looks better than all the stuff you saw on TV last week.