In the last post, I wrote about the importance of story and structure and character in sitcom - and the dangers of rushing to write a script. Character development and storylining take ages, especially if you're doing it right, and cutting corners normally backfires. Winging it or joking your way of out trouble is tempting but hardly ever works.
But that is not to say that you shouldn't write any dialogue until you're done your fourth draft of a detailed scene by scene breakdown of the episode. If you can hear the characters talking, write it down. Fast. Grab a napkin and a lipstick if you have to. But get it down. It's worth having.
I've been working on a new idea and will be writing a script very soon. I have the characters in place - although I've just merged two characters into one - and a rough idea for a story. But then, based on one line in my head, the main character had a conversation with her daughter in my mind and it sounded funny. So I frantically started getting it down before the voices in my head stopped. They were arguing about something and it escalated and it was funny. I wrote about three pages before it felt like I was ready to stop. That script fragment then helped me as I formulated the story.
A few days after that, I was swimming and thinking about the show. Another conversation started to take shape in my head. It was between the same two characters but felt like a conversation they'd have at the end of the show. It seemed like very useful dialogue and, rather than risk forgetting, I got out of the pool and typed out the conversation on my smartphone. It was about two pages of dialogue in note form. And when I got home, I typed it up.
I'm still working on the story. It's still not quite there, but it's coming. The third act B-Plot doesn't work yet, but the emotional beats of the story are in place and I've got some dialogue and characterful jokes for it. I may well end up ditching it, but it helps to have it, for morale if nothing else, and the characters are now talking to each other. Yes, I have voices in my head. And I'm very glad about that.