The KOTM Writing Process

We’ve been writing a ton lately for KOTM, so I thought I’d put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and outline our writing process as well as a few principles we’ve learned along the way. If you haven’t seen any of our characters or sketches, I’ve attached a few to peruse. Here we go.

{The Beginning’s a Good Place to Start}

KOTM’S goal each week is to teach one, simple truth from the Bible. We begin by asking, “How can we write a sketch to help communicate this point?” We have our own ‘brain trust’ of individuals that come together each week to come up with ideas.

{We Talk Through Every Step}

Together we outline every part of the script. For part one of Andrew’s teleport sketch (click here to watch the service) the outline looks like this:

Adam Welcomes Audience
Adam Can’t Find Andrew
Andrew Pops Up on ‘Andrew Cam’
Andrew Explains ‘Andrew Cam’
Andrew’s Sound FX Jokes
Andrew’s Beggin’ Strips Joke
Andrew Teleports In
Adam Isn’t a Believer
Andrew Teleports Back to Room
Andrew Teleports Back to Stage
Adam is a Believer
Adam: “Side FX?”
Backwards Knees
Hands for Feet
Adam Asks Andrew Not to Teleport Again
Andrew Agrees
Adam Continues with Theme
Andrew Asks to Take Over
Andrew Confuses ‘Coming Close to God’ with Use of TP3
Adam Tries to Explain
Andrew Says He’ll Teleport Again
Adam Begs Him Not To
Andrew Agrees
Adam Turns His Back / Andrew Teleports
Adam Exits

Typically at this point we will figure out if our sketch even works. If we’re not too excited about it, we start over.

{Get It On Paper}

It’s just an idea until we get it on paper. I typically write the first draft, so I put a ‘please do not disturb’ on my office door or just leave the campus until I’m done. A little tip I picked up a while back was to disconnect from the internet, so as not to be tempted to take a “little” break. You can’t critique a script until it’s actually a script.

{Somebody Read to Somebody}

Next I go back to the brain trust and read it through. I’m looking for their HONEST responses. I read it aloud and take the heat. I’d much rather hear the truth from my friends as opposed to an audience full of kids. Read to people you trust and take their feedback.

{Edit. Edit. Edit.}

During this phase I’m looking to eliiminate anything I don’t need. I cut all unnecessary lines & jokes that simply don’t work. I condense the script as much as I can and try to end up with a second draft that says everything in as few sentences as possible. Let’s all take a tip from Matt Damon in Ocean’s 11.

“Never use 7 words when 4 will due.”

{Run Those Lines}

After the second draft (or more), we’ll read through it again, with everyone who’s involved in the sketch. This usually happens in the office and is basically just a table read, allowing everyone to get comfortable with the script. This is one of my favorite parts. The script really begins to come to life!

{Blocking}

We practice KOTM sketches on stage for the first time without the production crew. Lately this has been happening the Thursday night before the weekend. This gives us time to make blocking decisions and actually see how it’ll play out. Our whole KOTM staff comes to rehearsal even if they don’t have a stage part. I want to see their reactions during the sketch, getting a feel for what does and doesn’t work.

(It’s Gameday)

Saturday afternoon is the first time the audio, lighting and stage guys see the sketch. I’ll go over any cues with the production manager regarding sound fx, props and lighting.

{Wrap Up}

Our goal for the sketch is that every person is comfortable and knows their marks. The Saturday night kids can’t be our test group. They deserve a good sketch. As a producer, I’ll watch and make notes, as can anyone else in the trust. Feedback is key.

To wrap this blog up, I’ve included a few simple notes we try to always remember:

  • Start with the end in mind. Endings are hard. If the ending is good, the middle will work itself out.

  • When stuck, ask yourself, “How would my character NOT react to this tension?” Often, asking that question can get your brain working in a different direction.

  • Base characters off real life personalities you know. (ie your kids, parents, friends) You’d be surprised how many of Millard’s lines have come from conversations with my grand father-in-law. (That’s a compliment to him btw.)

  • Remember: No work is ever wasted. If it didn’t happen the way you intended, get back on the horse and write some more. There’s only one way to become a better writer...keep writing!

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