Jon Lovitz’s Writing Tips

Jon Lovitz does AV Club’s Random Rules today. Here, he gives some pretty good writing advice. Context: he’s describing coming back as the host of the show in 1997, and going to the writer’s meeting on Monday. The “They” is the SNL writers–

They’d say, “We have an idea for a sketch. You’re a teacher, and the student brings you an apple.” I go, “Right.” “And then another comes in and another brings you an apple, and then another brings you an apple.” I go, “Then what happens?” They go, “No, that’s the sketch. They’re just all bringing you apples.” I said, “That’s not a sketch. That’s just a premise.” They didn’t know what I was talking about. I said, “A sketch is supposed to have a beginning, middle, and end. It’s like a movie. It’s supposed to have a story. You have a who, what, where—the beginning, and the conflict, and it builds and builds. That’s how you do improv. You’re filling in all those spots to make the scene work. It builds to a climax. Then there’s a resolution, which is the ending. It takes hours to write the ending. It’s hard to come up with them.” They just looked at me blankly.

I think the writers thought I was a jerk, because I was like, “Then what happens?” to all of it. They’d go, “That’s it.” Maybe they didn’t like that. They wrote a first draft, and, “Who are you to touch our brilliant first draft?” Writing is rewriting.