Sunday, 21 October 2012

The recipe for laughter

I attended a wonderful workshop yesterday which was part of the Wellington Literary Festival.  My own writing group Wrekin Writers invited Dr Paul McDonald from the University of Wolverhampton to give a talk on how to write humour.  As you can see by the picture above, it's a serious business.  I never realised that there are so many tools that can be used to create a piece of work that is funny.  Paul went through several of these to give us a real insight into how to write humour.

Re-incorporation was one of them, just like when a stand up comedian will keep returning to a particular subject, maybe they have picked on someone in the audience and each time they do it, it seems to get funnier.  Exaggeration was a major one too as in comedy you can get away with a lot more than when you are writing  in different genres. Some of the other terms we looked at were repetition, contrasts, incongruity, obsessions, irony and even a characters name.  Some names just sound funny, it's the same with some words.  'Stinky' and 'Plop' make me smile, I don't know why, perhaps it's the child in me but that is useful as I write mainly for children so that could come in useful some day. 

By using these tools it is possible to create something that will make people laugh.  Several members of the group did this in just a 15 minute exercise so it shows it really is possible.  None of us are comedians but within minutes we were genuinely laughing at the work that had been produced in a very short time scale.  

I would really like have a go at writing a humorous novel one day.  I have had a go at writing humour before with my chicken book which is is classed as gentle humour I guess but I didn't even think about trying to be funny when  I was writing that as the subject itself ( my chickens) gave me all the material in just watching them so it seemed to flow quite easily.  It was more about observing them and their comical personalities.  I made them superior to me which is also another ingredient in writing comedy as someone always has to be the butt of the joke, in the example of my book I suppose that was me!

I certainly want to have a go in the future of writing something funny, now I have my comedy tool kit, I am ready to go forth and have a giggle.  

Dr Paul McDonald 

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Meet the Author and their marketing ideas

I spent a wonderful morning at the new Wellington Library on Saturday. It was part of the Wellington Literary Festival which is held every October and is an amazing programme of literary events to suit everyone. I was lucky enough to be invited to sell my book 'One Hundred Ways For A Chicken to Train Its Human' and promote my new novel 'Red Kite' which will be out soon. Although I didn't sell any books on this occasion, I still had a fantastic time meeting some wonderful fellow authors and having a chat to the general public who unfortunately for me were just not interested in Chickens!

I also attended with my Mom, Phyllis Blakemore, author of 'Gentlemen of the River' and as always her book went down very well.  She made quite a few sales and loved chatting to people about the old days in Ironbridge where her book is set.

I met a lovey lady pictured above who really inspired me. At the young age of only 24, Carys Jones has written several books and getting great reviews for her current book 'Not All Stars Sparkle'. It was great to chat to her and we shared many similar experiences in the journey of trying to get a book published. Carys had some great promotional material that her publisher did for her and I noticed people were picking them up as I did. She also has a great website which made me start thinking  when I need to market my own book. Have a look at

I have shared many events with R H Stewart who also writes young adult fiction.  He had a mass of young adults around his display most of the morning, something I really wish for when Red Kite is finally on sale.  I loved his stand and again I think that having props and a great visual display is so important.  His website is great too, see

I have to also mention Ken Ballantyne who was also present  and writes Real life/Military books. Unfortunately I never got to talk to him but he had another great visual display with music too.

Although I didn't get any sales, I certainly came away a lot richer with the knowledge that I picked up while I was there.  Getting out to events like this is a great opportunity to talk to other writers and see how they go about marketing their book once it's written and that is something I can bank for the future when I am promoting Red Kite.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Dinolympics - first edition

The first copy of my non-fiction book 'Dinolympics' came today. I have done it through Lulu Publishing and I am very happy with the quality and price.  This one is just the test copy but it's a thrilling experience to see it in a real book form after so long.  I need to re-arrange the illustrations as on the first run I have them all at the back, rather than with the text. 

This has been a great learning project too as in the next few weeks I will be publishing my novel 'Red Kite' with Lulu as well so hopefully when it comes to loading my novel on, I may know what I am doing.

I started this little book in October 2010 with the hope that I may find a publisher.  I wanted to tie it in with the London 2012 Olympics and hoped that someone may take an interest but it still got rejected on the grounds that they already had enough olympic related material.  I never guessed that I should have planned even earlier than two years ahead but I do now.

I had spent so long working on it I had to do something positive.  I set about trying to illustrate it myself.

They are only simple sketches but at least I can say I did something with it and I have learnt so much as a result.

I didn't put it for sale as I truly believe it's not really good enough to charge money for but it has been great fun to produce it.  I have spent so many lovely hours researching and sketching my sporting dinosaurs so I will never see it as a waste of time.

Below is one of my sketches, the tiny Compsognathus, one of my favourite dinosaurs, not much bigger than a chicken but very fast and agile.

I think the biggest thing I will take from this is planning well ahead, maybe I should send it out again now ready for the 2016 Olympics in Rio!