Thursday, 26 June 2014

Hotel's as places to set a story.

Are hotels and B+B's friendly places or otherwise? I stayed in a B+B in London recently that was very lived-in. I once stayed in a hotel with carpets so thick it was strange to walk on them. What contrasts!

Write a dark and sinister story about a B+B or hotel. Characters in such places have a need to be there. Some to work, some to sleep overnight. Under what circumstances do they meet? What circumstances surround them? Do holiday or celebratory experiences have strange undercurrents?



Use these questions to shape the story.

Don't aim for a word count. Write unselfconsciously until you've finished. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

stand up comedy and the elusiveness of laughter

I have stood up in front of audiences and been funny. Intentionally and unintentionally. It's not for wimps. If laughter results from your material and it was meant to, the feeling is amazing. If the laughter you were hoping for doesn't materialize then an ordinary minute feels like a week.

At a comedy club near to me I have laughed so much at comedians my ribs have ached. A friend once told me about an experience she'd had and we laughed raucously for days. Laughter is such fun, so healing and medicinal.

So. How can we make people laugh at our writing, in the right places?

First we need to know what makes us laugh. Here are two examples.

Inappropriate juxtapositions: 

If you've seen Little Britain TV Comedy  you will have seen the sketch about the young guy who fancies his mate's Gran. A young man hankering after a much older woman makes people laugh because the relationship could be seen as inappropriate. if you haven't seen it look on Youtube.


Sometimes we laugh when people hurt themselves or fall over. Other times if someone becomes very serious before they give bad news laughter can bubble up. Psychologists have looked at why this situation exists and written about it it in detail. This and slapstick humour are my weaknesses. If people fall over I want to chuckle. As an adult I have trained myself not to in case it offends. And it's not only me who finds misfortune and slapstick funny. One day as I walked briskly over ice I slid, flew up some way and landed on my back at a bus stop. I did this twice and a woman over the road from me was doubled up with laughter. The joke was on me.

Think of an inappropriate juxtaposition.  

Think of a time when misfortune has made you chuckle.

Your writing could take the form of a poem, a sketch or a short story. is the website of Bill Bryson who has made books full of things that make people hoot with laughter. Get one out of the library and analyse it to see where his humour comes from.

For those wishing to write and perform stand up comedy Get Your Act Together - writing a stand up comedy routines by Jenny Roche is a book that will take you through the business of performing comedy.

Comedy isn't easy. Creating rounded characters and believable plots is a writers job. Making those people and situations funny is a very different skill.