Friday, July 28, 2006

Skit Writing Exercise...The Test Drive

Find a small audience of 3 or 4 (I use my puppet team) and read it to them or have them read it out loud. You will quickly find out if there are any weaknesses in you skit. You have to pick people that love you enough to tell you the truth even if it is hurtful. Take whatever advice they offer, weigh it, consider it and modify your skit if you find their suggestions worthwhile. I find my team usually contributes a bit of humor that gets added after this first reading. I often involve a few members of my target audience as part of my test group. This ensures that the skit stays age appropriate in scope.

There you have it, a fool-proof method for writing your own skits. I should have mine completed soon and I will post it at soon. I hope you won’t mind sharing your skits when you have them completed and I will post them also.

Like I said, this is the same type of information available in Wanna Bite of Elephant? Thanks for participating and keep spreading the word about

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Skit Writing Exercise...Let's Finish Up

By now the dialog is flowing freely and you are close to finishing your skit. The next step is to edit what you have written. I’m not talking grammar and spelling, I mean edit for content and story flow.

First, evaluate every sentence to see that it is crucial for moving the story along. Also, see if there are any “wordy” statements and if they may be rewritten in such a way to clarify and simplify the idea. Remember: Do no use large words when a diminutive one will suffice.

Second, check the humor content. Most skits are designed to be funny so make sure that they are just that. A few one-liners and ha-ha jokes are great to have, but don’t allow the message to be lost in the humor…it defeats the purpose. Make sure the humor is more than just a bunch of gags. Witty banter and funny situations give a great skit its legs.

Third, remove anything that doesn’t add to the story or (worse) detracts from the skit. If you feel something is unnecessary, take it out—a literary appendectomy of sorts. If the change allows the skit to retain its meaning and understandability, it is more than likely a good change.

Give your new skit a title and determine what props you may need. Now you are ready to try it out. I'll tell you how to do that tomorrow.

Thanks for participating and keep spreading the word about

This is the same type of information available in Wanna Bite of Elephant?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Skit Writing Exercise...Learn How Part 4

Get on your mark, get set, start writing.

By this point using the previous four steps, you’ve defined your topic, your characters, your style and have an outline for your skit. It’s time to write!

Of course, before I turn you loose, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Start your dialogue just like your characters would have a normal conversation. If your characters have a particular foible, don’t forget to use it.
  • Keep in mind that the skits need to be funny to keep the audience attention. For inspiration, think of the funny people around you and the conversations you have with them.
  • Remember to keep lines short and to the point. There is nothing worse in puppet manipulation than a full page soliloquy of multi-syllabic words. As a rule of thumb, I try to limit my dialogue for one character to no more than 5 typewritten lines at a time. (I have happy puppeteers, too.)
  • Stay focused. Set the stage and get to wrong quickly and then follow your path of resolution.

One last tip, write fast. The faster you write the more you get on paper and the less likely writer’s block will occur. You will clean everything up when you edit your text. Just make sure that you stick to your plan.

Good writing, and we'll finish up next week.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Skit Writing Exercise...Learn How Part 3

    Continuing on, we have our topic, our characters and a style or theme for our skit. This brings us to step 4: The 5 W’s – “who, what, where, why and WRONG”. (I bet you were expecting “when”.)

    Puppet skits are usually short so you have to launch the characters and the setting early. You established “who” and “what” in steps one and two so these can easily be conveyed to audience in a sentence or two. You don’t necessarily need a “when”, therefore the “why” and “wrong” become your biggest concern, but even this is not difficult to define.

    “Why” is the reason you write the skit. It’s the final point you want to drive home and this may be different from your topic. In our exercise, the armor of God is a pretty broad topic and we can focus on defining the armor, explaining the armor or bringing the armor into another, completely different, context by tying it to other related Bible teachings. (This is what gives power and flexibility to this approach to writing. We can take very different routes for our skits just based on our “why”.)

    Okay, this leaves “wrong” and I would be willing to bet this has perplexed you up until this point. “Wrong” is the direction your skit takes, the plot line if you will. Any good story (or skit) has some conflict, tragedy or upheaval that the protagonist (the hero) must overcome in order to set things right. Classic examples are Scrooge coming to accept the joys of Christmas, Sherlock Holmes solving some baffling crime or Fred Flintstone having to be at the fancy-dress social event and bowling in the league championship at the same time. You must establish “wrong” quickly in the story in order to get to the resolution in the 3-5 minutes the average skit allows. Longer skits (puppet plays) can take longer to get to the “wrong”, but the “wrong” must exist in order to keep the story interesting. The path of resolution is how we get to the “why”.

    Define your “why” and “wrong” and write your 5 W's down. As you identify your “wrong” and your path of resolution, jot it down. This is your sequence of events and the basic outline for your skit.

    Next time, we will start writing. I will have some final instructions, but we are ready to write. Woohoo!

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Skit Writing Exercise...Learn How Part 2

    As you recall, step one was to choose a topic and our topic for this exercise will be the Armor of God as found in Ephesians 6:10-20. Often when I am writing a skit, I will look to other translations of the Bible for more insight.

    Step two is determining the number of characters which I set this at two before this exercise began. Once you begin the actual skit writing, you may find that the number of characters is not sufficient to tell the story. That’s okay; the goal is to start with a plan for your writing, but your plan should be flexible enough to adapt to your needs. Add or remove characters as the situation warrants.

    This brings us to step three: Choosing a Style. This is where the fun begins and where we as a group will take a single idea and turn it in to a multitude of skits. The style of the skit is the arrangement and setting for the characters and determines the way dialogue will be presented.

    One consideration to make is your target audience. Is your skit for 4 year olds, elementary age children, youth or adults? Knowing this will keep your skit age appropriate (understanding) and ensure that your skit will be well received.

    When choosing a style, we only have to look as far as our living rooms. Mainstream television, movies and books showcase many different styles:

    • Sitcoms (odd couples, fish out of water, one sane character amongst eccentric characters)
    • News/Sports Broadcast
    • Genre (western, kung fu, medical drama, detective stories, super heroes)
    • Commercials
    One of the most easily written styles is to take one character who always misunderstands things coupled with a character who corrects them. The humor comes from just how off base the character becomes before the correction begins. Another easily written style is to take a familiar character and place them in unfamiliar circumstances. As I said, television, movies and books are full of style ideas.

    Your assignment is to pick a style for your skit. You don’t have to tell me what it is, just choose one. Next time, we make some final considerations before we start writing.

    For reference visit .

      Wednesday, July 12, 2006

      Skit Writing Exercise...Learn How To Do It Here!

      Writing skits comes naturally to some people. To the rest of us, writing an original skit is a daunting task. I designed a plan of attack for writing skits as outlined in Wanna Bite of Elephant, and over the next few days, I want to give you a glimpse of the technique.

      I want to lead an exercise in writing skits. In the end, everyone who has participated will have written an original skit and will be able to duplicate the process for other skits.

      Here’s the plan. I will take e-mail suggestions at on a topic (which is step one) between now and July 14 (2006). (Please put "Exercise" in the subject line.) I will choose a topic from the suggested topics. From there we will write a two person skit using my step-by-step system. Okay, now here’s the catch: I want to post your skit at for the entire world to use. (It’s not mandatory, but I think it will demonstrate uniqueness of writing styles.)

      As you may have figured out, choosing a topic is the first step. (The second step is determining the number of characters, which I have already set at two.) I would like topics that are either associated to a Bible story or verse, or have a Biblical truth associated with them (again I like to tie skits to a verse). This technique works for secular teachings as well, but this is (with the emphasis being on minister in this case).

      There you have it. You have until Friday to e-mail me ideas. If you are looking for inspiration, Christian books or magazines are good. Prayerful study of the Bible works well, too. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

      Tuesday, July 11, 2006

      Vent Haven ConVENTion

      For those will be in the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area this week, the 2006 Vent Haven ConVENTion is going on July 12-15 in Fort Mitchell, KY. I have not personally attended this event, but everyone I know that has attended says that it is a must-see for anyone interested in puppetry or ventriloquism. There are some big name performers and puppet makers lined up to do presentations and approximately 26 vendors will be there peddling their wares.

      This year they will celebrate the life of Paul Winchell one of the most revered ventriloquist of all times. (I best remember him as the voice of Tigger, although he was also an amateur inventor and patented an artificial human heart, the first disposable razor, a see-through garter belt, a flameless cigarette lighter, and a fountain pen with a retractable tip.)

      For more information you can call 1-740-438-6552 or contact the conVENTion director Mark Wade at

      Thought for the Day

      "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." --Mark Twain

      Thursday, July 06, 2006

      New Puppets

      I have two new puppets for sale at I haven't had time to post them on the site yet, but if you are interested in either, e-mail me at , and I have more coming soon. Thanks.

      Imagine using these hand made, original puppets in your next performance. They have poseable hands, removable arm rods and they are just absolutely adorable. Both are light weight and include one rod arm. Only $50 each.

      Perhaps you are just getting started and are looking for a boy and a girl combo. I am offering special pricing when you buy two. Did I mention additional rod arms are available? Don't pass up the opportunity to own to great puppets. E-mail me at .

      These guys are looking to join a special ministry. Will it be yours?