Writing Comedy

Posted: May 27, 2015 in Pointers
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It is quiet, your keyboard is making its pitter pattering and then… your dog runs into the room and slips on the tiles as he chases after a cat. His nose hits the wall. He is sneezing all over your curtains. Your characters are busy discussing serious things. The dog is yelping and you sit there… snickering.

I am no comedian, but I have found that people always laugh at my speeches. So I studied humour and I found that it boils down to a simple thing. Flaws are the core of comedy. I think it is a gift from God that we also misuse. We laugh at misery to make things better. Stereotypes are based on a preconceived notion of a particular person, usually because of a singular trait. We have seen them all, but they still make us laugh. I decided to deliver a speech on humour and I did it in the way a stand up comedian would do. I was scared to death. My tie was shaking and my hands too, but I did not care. I knew I could make people laugh with my world-view. You see, I am a bit of a pessimist or I can pretend to be. So I used my hands as a joke right there. I worked with my immediate flaws to showcase that my audience would laugh. I was not wrong. They did laugh… at my speech and at my flaws, because they are human. Life is one fat man constantly stepping on a banana peel.

Even though I had found a way to entertain my friends like the sad clown I was, I still had no idea how I could make my characters funny, but as I was writing I discovered that it only takes a little conflict and a little sarcasm to tune up the comedy value of what you have written.

How do I know if something is funny? I read it and reread it. If I find a trace of anti-laughter (lame humor) I run away and apologize to my cat for having to endure my stupid jokes. I have found that if you go into your character’s point of view and act a little cynical you can do wonders for your humorous writing. After you have done this you need to get it to your alpha-readers. Comedy never changes. Timing is always important. You don’t want to seem too eager to make people laugh.

Keep these things in mind. Be a pessimist for a day and write down your thoughts. They will be funnier than you might think. You can only have this high with some sort of low.
Comedy is acceleration. Happiness is speed. Think about it.

Fear (part 2)

Posted: May 26, 2015 in Pointers
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I have written about this a long time ago, but I can never address this enough. Fear is the enemy of creativity. It is a trap that can suffocate a writer and suck him or her into its abyss of self-doubt and worrying.

Across the ocean, east,
beyond the dangerous land.
A hop from there lies
a fun lair. Rugby balls and extreme sport… they have something to teach.

“Enough with riddles, man.” I am talking about New Zealand. Those people practically breath adventure. I have heard many New Zealanders love the outdoors. Also, they have the best rugby team in the world. I am a South African and I also love our Springboks, but that does not change the fact that we are a step down from the Kiwis. They handle the ball with such skill that you can’t help, but admire them and their creativity.

The other day I heard a coach giving his perspective on why they are the best in the world. You may be asking yourself what this has to do with writing, but I shall get to that in a moment. The coach told reporters that South Africans are too quick to criticize. We do not allow players to make errors. One bad game and the player gets a booing of a lifetime. This leads to order and precision of course, but never… ever, creativity. The All Blacks embrace the errors as part of a learning curve. Their fancy moves and ball skills just don’t happen. They may even mess up in a game, but the players aren’t being scolded into oblivion. They give room for creativity that ultimately leads to better players. Even from a young age they encourage the kids to master the basics and then develop their talents freely from there. In a way they love the sport more than winning.

This brings me to writing.You can try to hammer people into a system so that they will write in a way that will make them best-seller, but this will not make them the best writers necessarily. Being passionate about something is one of the most important things and fear strips you from this. Now, growing a thick skin is also a process that takes time. Criticism tears through your muse like a hot knife through butter. Just keep in mind that you can not change what you have shown. Your grammar could have been poor or you could have had many plot holes or (insert criticism here)… The point is that fear is your enemy, because creativity is your friend. So do not be afraid of messing up, but be afraid of cradling yourself in a corner where you convince yourself that you can be the best with fear.

Embrace your flaws like a friend and then stab it in the back. Be brave… you will make errors.

Art is part of the human nature and there is no way around it.

Writers, you probably have heard the saying: You can’t write if you don’t read. (there are hundreds of paraphrases) Usually an author or reader tells you this smirking, whilst having a firm grip of a five hundred page monster beneath their arm. Sometimes I wonder if they can be used as some sort of armour. Anyway… the person telling you this have a logical case for interrrupting your thoughts. There are many writers out there who are better than you and you need to learn from them.

What do you have to learn from them? I don’t believe you need to make it your mission to adapt your writing, but  rather that you need to read their work critically and make mental notes. However as soon as you approach your story you need to have forgotten about them. Reading will only make you a better writer in the same degree studying art makes you a better painter or photographer. Even though you can be influenced. It is through the trials of errors that we learn and really hone our skills as writers. I would suggest that you read less, but that you do it more critically. If we can pick up good habits subconsciously then surely we can learn some bad ones too. Just take a hard look at life and I dare you to disagree with me. Your subconscious does have faulty filter.

If I still haven’t convinced you, I want to present my logical argument that reading should not be glorified to the point that authors miss the point by neglecting their writing. Take a literate human being and give him some novels to read. He does not have to be an avid reader. He just needs to be fluent in a language. Now tell him to critique the novels. The chances are that his critique will be almost as valid as a critic’s. Why is that? Remember my opening? Art is part of human nature. We know if narrative isn’t working. We know what bores us. We know what excites us. We know what makes a story good. We know these things… not because some great writer told us these things, but rather that we are part of a curious species that wants to be entertained.

So I wholeheartedly disagree that reading a lot makes you a much better author. If you can speak, you can write. (assuming of course that you are literate) I laugh at the fact that authors preach this idea of reading like an obsessed person, yet they fail to tell us to watch more movies or to go see plays. I am not saying you shouldn’t read. No, I am saying that you should write more and read more critically, because there is a little voice inside of you that knows the truth.

Write till you can’t. Read your own work and others’. Criticize it. Do this over and over and over again. Broaden your skills using any method necessary… even if it is only watching TV and reading the occasional book. (critically) I am telling you… art is in our nature.

Marionettes

Posted: May 21, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Marionettes
They dangle by threads proclaiming and uttering the lie of
being flesh and bone. Boxed into an office of their own.
Directed by the tall chairs, yet under the impression of
being real in the way they act.

They manipulate the crowd, but above their heads hang
a hand. Some of them feel the relentless tug and burn out
in the lights… so bright.
Back in the day there weren’t the same chains.
The shine seemed less, but the ropes were longer.
Even now they are free to move until the extension
fails and can only be cut.
Then it is rebound and cut and rebound and cut.
Sometimes they think they believe that they have more control.

Others realize the futile attempts to place a permanent mark.
They bark and bark until their own little paws are given some string.
They compete… yet they utter the restraint… wishing they could
pulp wood and inscribe their own name.

They are polished by their brief fame,
but alas,
even this wood must go to the flame, before paper does.
They have forgotten… it is a crying shame.

.

Skinny sheep

Posted: May 16, 2015 in Poetry
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Skinny sheep
At first there was darkness… then ardently he rose.
Sweet smelling music played and lifted his heart.
Moved and touched by melodies alone.
“Where… tell me where is the start of faith?”
It can’t be found in that empty place of emotion lead.
Slowly he sat back as the music faded.
Time has done what the ears have missed.
Emotion has lead him astray.
Searching… he went, running out of fuel, so to speak.
Cropping up memories of experience, but malnourished indeed.
Where oh where does he seek?
For a time will come when the weekly kick will be dull…
and questions arise and darkness comes and everything fade as the melodies do too and deafness and sickness and crashing…. and burning and yearning.
At last there was darkness and he sat down.
A comical skinny sheep uncertain in his ways.
He keeps eating of the barren fields… sure of the “fruit”
it yields.

“The prose and cons”

Posted: May 16, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Let it not be said that this was an easy task, for
no man should isolation ask.
They stared… they mocked… they laughed.
“A novel? Ha!”
However as words multiplied and ideas came to be… so I came to see that I had to give up some to become more. One foot was already behind the door.
An epitome of individual thought. The prose… my worlds, my mind’s subsets. Characters… failures, pondering and philosophical thought could all be wrapped up in narratives.
Maybe a lesson could be taught.
I am strange… I always have been.
Yet, this pursuit is nothing compared to the one we all need.
We will be mocked and they will make their jokes. We will be tested for sure.
It is more than art or abstract thought.
We are to have faith and count the costs:
ostracization, humiliation… exclusion… among a world full of delusion.
Let it not be said that this is an easy task, for no man should isolation ask.
Let us not despair, for though we feel little, we ought to know:
We are not alone.

Grandiloquence

Posted: May 12, 2015 in Pointers
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As days have passed by and it came to my mind that certain people think that they are unique… I want a grand return to my blog. I am the hero of this white page. My action is saving it from being utterly boring.. with the coming and going of the #hipstercop, I was so delighted by the wit of people. Enchanted, one may say.

This is my return. It may be slow and you should not expect much, but that (↑) is not my voice. So without further ado. With no more hesitation. It is time for me to speak about the ins and outs of a writer’s mind, my journey and some or other nonsense.

So what is grandiloquence? (I had to find the word) It is an essence of pretention. It can also be called verbosity and since I trust my Wikipedia writers- here is a list of synonyms “wordiness, verbiage, prolixity, grandiloquence, garrulousness, expatiation, logorrhea, and Sesquipedalianism.”

How often do writers use grandiloquence? Such a matter is up for debate and if you contemplate about it….( ←)TOO OFTEN!
Now, I don’t mean to boast, (this is a white lie) I do not use grandiloquence often .Here(↑) it was on purpose. I don’t want to make writing sound technical, because then I would be wasting your time, but here is another secret. ( you know… those common sense secrets)

Say it like it is and how you know it will be said. Always use appropriate language or language that applies to the character. If you do not do this you are making the character less believable. And believe it or not, (see the wordplay) ←(oops)↔ subtlety can be the writer’s greatest asset. (maybe that’s a tad diplomatic) You can not for the sake of your soul write without subtlety. It is also the master characterizer. Grandiloquence is the enemy of subtlety. A story is best told if the writer is not playing a trumpet announcing his grand vocabulary. A story is best told when the writer fades into his world and his voice becomes a part of the story without any reader suspecting it.

Do I have some hidden knowledge or am I a master of English? No. Is my vocabulary the greatest? No… but even without those aces up my sleeve I still consider myself to be a good writer and even if I am not, one thing is sure- I do not beat around the bush and neither should you.

Acid

Posted: February 8, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Everything done. Everything built. Everything broken and
nothing
because acid does not ask questions nor do any seek an alkaline.
Just keep pushing things down the gaping maw. Faster and faster until
the glutton grows older and older. Shaking and then slower as the hands cannot provide
and the pain from within starts to burn.

Some push staples through the papers on their desk.
That’s their staple and life is just a test.
Go high, go far, but burning comes from near
and though soaring… still burning.
Others let it burn away… skin and bone.
Often alone.
Others get their own little pill… voices making the sour go still.
Suppressing it till time’s end.
Few can stomach the common household supplies
They say it changes the tongue and the sour sweet zest goes
gone with the wind. (As do all things under the sun)
However it gives a new flavor… sweeter.
The appetite slows down.
Nothing can be broken. Everything is repaired. Stabilized so to say.
Alkaline, when first gulped… a reaction from within.
The bubbling when the pain fades away.
Alkaline neutralizes acid’s sting.
Eventually everybody passes away.
Some holding their stomachs  and
others with a smile within.

Sonnet of a thinker.

Posted: February 5, 2015 in Poetry
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Through struggling to close the eyes and escape the thought
they wake up to go to others
and so they walk and talk
to men that could never be brothers.
Funny enough the comfort comes with a great price bought.

Silent times can cause them great despair
as they draw their power from outside.
They know not a poet’s lair
nor do they convey many things on few minds.
Seldom do they think about the darkness of pride.

Then it is so that thinkers must rejoice
when their minds are rejuvenated
and they should become elated
when thinking comes as if not even by choice.

Epikrinó

Posted: February 4, 2015 in Poetry
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A surprisingly sunny day to be dressed in black. The shades some wear…
hides the tears.
Some say some funny words about the man they knew.
They listen in silence and nodding and laughing.

However… they weren’t talking about you.
Two holes and thus two lives. One touched more lives.
An eagle’s view would show the sadness.
No words spared to praise your neighbour.
It makes you wonder why they gave them for a corpse.

It is probably the right thing to do.
Tradition is the old black… and only so often a glance at the man lowering your box.
They cry because dead men can’t hear.
They laugh because they say things not there.
They hug for they fear.

This is what I have to say about them. I knew a group of people once who were very funny.
Yeah… I remember this one time… this one…
their noses were runny. They always wore the most stylish clothing.
No, they were never boring.
Much more I can’t say…
good men
good men
were
they.