Workshops are a great way to learn, to find out what you already know, and to approach a familiar subject with fresh eyes. This still holds true when you're the person delivering the event.
Back in 2012 I ran a one-day workshop on Comedy Writing for Beginners for the Moon Hut Writers' Group in Falmouth. It was great fun and a little experimental (as some of the feedback attested!).
- What makes a joke
- Types of joke
- Some techniques for creating jokes
- Writing topical jokes and cartoon captions
- What to do with your jokes once you've written written them
More recently, I was invited to run a two-hour slot for West Cornwall Café Writers’ Group, so I created a cut-down version of the follow-up workshop, Comedy Writing in Fiction. (For fans of Raymond Chandler, I described it as The Little Sister of the original.)
This time, with a different audience we covered (in a whistle-stop tour):
- What makes a joke, types of joke and some techniques for creating jokes
- Reasons for making jokes
- Finding humour in formal situations and personal anecdotes
- Why and when to use comedy in fiction
- Where comedy may come from in your fiction
The most interesting times for me were when someone asked a question I wasn't expecting, or talked about a personal experience or observation. It was nice too to have someone there who has read three of my novels from the Spy Chaser series.
Things I realised on the day:
1. We all of us know more than we think we do.
2. Our writing reflects who we are, our life experiences and our attitudes. They go hand in hand, and the one cannot expand and develop without the other.
3. Writers' concerns do not change, however long we've been writing and wherever we see ourselves on the ladder. Some of those fundamental questions are (and remain):
- Am I doing this right and is there a way to do it better?
- How do I make my writing more authentic?
- What steps can I take to make my work more publishable?
- How can I express myself more fully as a writer?
A huge thank you to Barbara, Brigitte, Elaine, Ginny, Jak, Kate and Linda for your hospitality and enthusiasm on the day. Sharing the event was a wonderful perk for sticking with a teenager's dreams of writing a book one day, from all those years ago!