Archive for the ‘Funny!’ Category

What WERE They Thinking?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Toilet Paper bathroom real estate photoHairdresser Real Estate PhotoGranny Dummy Real Estate Photo

 

The photos above are from actual real estate agents attempting to sell their properties.

But wait!  What’s the story BEHIND the story?

Writing Prompts:

1. Using humor, choose one of the photos above to show the story behind the story.

2.  Create a poem or story utilizing an unusual point of view.   Who is the narrator?

3.  Read Terrible Estate Agent Photos by Andy Donaldson.  Allow yourself to draw on these to create stories in various genres:  mystery, science fiction, romance, nonfiction, etc.  Play with styles!

Visit terriblerealestateagentphotos.com for more ideas.

What impresses readers? Analyze your Squirrel!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Hawk Vs. SquirrelConflict in nature, as shown by this hawk and squirrel behind our house, keeps life dangerous, emotionally driven and exciting. The squirrel hid inside his hole, but used the element of surprise to his advantage.

The hawk waited . . . . waited . . . and . . .

Pop!

The squirrel’s head burst out of his hole!  The hawk jumped backwards.

Yes, if we had captured a video of this, people would laugh.

Isn’t this what we desire of a good book? Capture readers emotionally, add an element of danger and surprise to create an exciting and humorous story.

 Writing Prompts:

  1. Where in your current writing project or art can you add the element of surprise for humor or shock value . . . or both? Remember, it’s all in the timing. Wait, wait, and boom!
  2. How can you engage your readers emotionally? Build your character’s needs and desires so they are real. Empathy for your squirrel increases the impact.
  3. Develop your antagonist so we see more than a cardboard evil character. What are her needs and desires? Why does this character act the way she does? Add this depth for a well-rounded story.

 

What do Editors think? Authors? Behind the Scenes Peek, Here!

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

I absolutely LOVE The Quiet Book, and its writer, Deborah Underwood.  Scholastic Editor Arthur Levine, famous for being JK Rowling’s editor, has been a treasure at writing conferences for years.  Imagine when they join other authors in a terrific tribute as to what happens between editors and authors.  

Enjoy!

http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=13192

Headline Declares: Cameron Diaz Doesn’t Believe in Using Deodorant!

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Internet Headlines:  gotta love ‘em.  cameron-diaz-huntington-ny-jan-actress-signs-her-book-body-book-law-hunger-science-strength-other-ways-to-36707407

Although many people enjoy a bit of mindless entertainment, if that’s all we’re choosing, we limiting ourselves.

An aunt of mine chose to read tabloid newspapers from the supermarket.  But when she became ill and needed hours of chemotherapy, people sent her novels.  Discovering reading a different genre, she hungered for more.  When, out of habit, she bought the latest tabloid, she confessed, “I’m tired of those newspapers. Send me more books.”

Years ago as a teacher, I talked to a parent who told me, “Sam read the cereal box this morning.”  She rolled her eyes.  “Strange kid.”

“Fabulous!” I said. “Line cereal boxes up on the table for him to read.  What can he discover about the information on them?”

 “Really?” she said. 

 “All the reading and writing we’ve done in class has carried into his daily life.  Encourage it.”

If we’re reading about Cameron Diaz’s anti-deodorant stance, ask yourself what the take-away is for you.  Humor?  A statement about culture?  Or nothing more than celebrity gossip? 

Writing Prompts

  1. Use titles online, in books, movies, and from the newspaper as a source of creativity.  Write a humorous riff based on the Cameron Diaz headline.
  2. Keep a list of the books you read.  Add comments. Inspiring? Fun? Boring?  Why? 
  3. Is there a genre of material you haven’t read?  Open a well-reviewed/rated book from this category.  If you’re a fiction reader, try a nonfiction book in a subject you love.  Never read a travel book?  Go for it!  There are so many types of books, you’ll experiment for a long time.   
  4. Share your choices and book recommendations with your friends and family. 
  5. Join a reading group or participate in online or library book discussions.

 

Enhance Your Writing with Humor: Dogs and Cats, Oh My!

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXAy_QU5WE8 

According to the Humane Society of the United States, pet ownership has grown dramatically since the 1970s.  Three times as many homes have pets today than forty years ago.  With the proliferation of pets in our lives, owners spend big bucks taking care of them.  Americans spent more than $50 billion on them in 2012, claim the American Pet Products Association. 

Which is why books, stories and articles about dogs and cats sell well. 

Author Bennett Cerf once said, “If writers want the sure road to success, for heaven’s sake, write something that will make people laugh.”

Combine sought-after humor with pets  and imagine the popularity! Humor’s basic premisses are contrast and surprise.  Placing two unlike things together create a funny juxtaposition. Employing the idea of opposites — two unlike characters interacting, laughs abound. 

Writing Prompts:

1.  Watch the video and let it inspire you to write about these animals together.  Write a scene from the dog’s point of view and then the cat’s.  Next, get into the owner’s head.   

2.  Write an announcer’s narration for this video.

3.  Choose another method of creativity to communicate the result of your #1 writing prompt. 

4.  If you’re a pet owner, pick up your camera and discover humorous moments with your animals.  Allow them to excite  you to for creating other works of art.

Mailman and Cats, Oh My!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

DSC_0010

Watch the humorous video below.  After you stop laughing, write this scene from the point of view of the mailman.  Then write it from the point of view of the cat.   It may be more difficult that it looks.   Sometimes describing actions while communicating humor isn’t easy. 

http://biggeekdad.com/2014/02/mailman-vs-cat/ 

 

 

Three Ways Which Show Editors You Are Professional!

Monday, March 31st, 2014

What’s a writer to do?  With so many submissions sent to editors, how can you make your writing stand out from the crowd?  Make sure you show you’re a professional? 

Don’t let your manuscript scream AMATEUR from page one!

 But how?

  1. Reduce adverbs.  Many of those pesky words which describe verbs – - many ending in “ly” aren’t necessary.  They tell and don’t show.  Rather than describe how someone does or says, show through an action.  

 Example:  “Don’t come back!” she said angrily.

Instead:  “Don’t come back!” she said, throwing a shoe at him.

Cut useless adverbs, such as very, extremely and really. 

 2.  Remove purple prose, unless you are writing romance, melodrama, or creating a satire. If writing is melodramatic and flowery, it will draw awareness to the words themselves, rather than the meaning.  The Bulwer-Lytton Contest awards writers for purposely using purple prose in order to be funny.  Note all of the adverbs in the example below. 

Example:  The 2013 winner, Chris Wieloch, from my home state of Wisconsin, has created this:  “She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination.”

  3.  Follow the rules.  Break them only if it’s for a specific reason

Example:  Although your grammar check will correct you for using fragments instead of a full sentence, sometimes they’re useful.  Why?  People use fragments while talking, so it’s okay to place them in dialogue. If fragments are in humor or suspense, it speeds up the pace, which increases the humor and suspense. It also provides emphasis to strengthen the meaning of words.  But use them sparingly, or the device, overdone, won’t serve its purpose any longer.

Writing Prompts:

1.  Revise your latest writing projects.  Rewrite sentences where you’ve used adverbs.  Show with action instead.

2.  Cut out your purple prose.  How can you use show don’t tell and description in a non-cloying way?  Create with poetic images which go along with your themes.   

3.  Grammar check your writing.  Go against the rules only when you have a specific purpose.

4.  Read other good, humorous entries for the Bulwer-Lytton Contest.  Write your own submission.  Have fun!

www.bulwer-lytton.com/

10 Tips for Winning Writing Contests, Scoring an A, or Attracting an Agent/Editor

Monday, January 27th, 2014

1. Hook your readers with a vivid scene right away. How? Read on.

2. Specific senses will get your reader to experience your story.

Example: Gary D. Schmidt’s Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy begins like this: Turner Buckminster had lived in Phippsburg, Maine, for fifteen minutes shy of six hours. He had dipped his hand in its waves and licked the salt from his fingers. He had smelled the sharp resin of the pines. He had heard the low rhythm of the bells on the buoys that balanced on the ridges of the sea. He had seen the fine clapboard parsonage beside the church where he was to live, and the small house set a ways beyond it that puzzled him some. Turner Buckminster had lived in Phippsburg, Maine, for almost six whole hours. He didn’t know how much longer he could stand it.

3. Show the protagonist’s problem right away. Turner’s is shown in his feelings shown in the last sentence.

4. Character dialogue must move the story forward. If it’s just talking back and forth to talk, remove it.

5. Use adverbs sparingly. Change them to verbs.
Example: He said loudly. Change to: He shouted.

6. Create suspense with tension. Author Steve Mooser employs the element of time. He says, “If the bad guys are due into town at sunset, if Friday is the day of the school play – that’s the easiest way to build tension.” In Frank L. Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, the hourglass shows how much time Dorothy has to live.

David Almond created atmosphere with action verbs and specific images in Heaven Eyes:
Mud. Black, sticky, oily, stinking mud. It was January who dared to lean out of his raft first. He dipped his hand into what should have been water. He touched mud, black mud. It oozed and dribbled from his fingers. The raft settled, and mud slithered across its surface, onto our clothes. It seeped through to our skin. It seeped through the tiny gaps between the doors. I took my flashlight out, switched it on, saw the doors disappearing as they sank . . . saw that we were being slowly sucked down into the sodden earth . . . Our feet, our hells, our knees were caught in mud . . . I grunted, whimpered, groaned. I slithered forward. . . My head filled with the mist and darkness.

7. Everyone loves humor. The unexpected is funny. Two unlike characters or objects placed together can be funny.

8. Read your piece out loud. Is it balanced? Not big chunks of description or pages of pure dialogue, but evenly paced?

9. Eliminate vague words: Possibly, many, pretty, terrible . . .

10. What has the protagonist learned or how has your character changed in some small way?

After several drafts, put away your manuscript for a while. When you return, read it aloud with fresh eyes. Are you having fun? If not, rework the story until it’s just right. You’ll feel that tingle of excitement when it works!

Twist a Movie Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce

Monday, July 29th, 2013

A friend told me while listening to NPR, there was something on Twitter where people were taking movie titles and making them sound boring.

Examples: Harry Potter and The Chamber of Commerce

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington State

A Streetcar Named Mild Interest

Singing in the Shower

So I tried it. How about:

The King and Liz

The Princess Toiletries.

Pulp Orange Juice.

One Fluttered Over the Bird’s Twig

To Swat A Mockingbird

Dial M for Milktoast

The So-So Years of Our Lives

Shawshank Perspiration

Some Like it Luke Warm

12 Discontented Men

The Wizard of Fresno

Writing Prompts:

1. You try it. It’s fun!
2. Choose one of the titles you’ve created or one of the titles above and write a story, script or poem to match. It could be a spoof or whatever you want it to be.
3. Create another art form for the title. What medium will you choose?

This Dog Shows Character!

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
Who did this?  The answer is obvious by the reaction of the characters involved.  
 
http://www.maniacworld.com/which-is-the-guilty-dog.html
 
Writing Prompt:
1.  Using a character’s facial expression, action, thoughts and/or dialogue, show guilt or innocence in a story or poem.
2.  Choose a character you know in your life.  Show this person or animal’s character through action, details, and/or dialogue in a personal narrative. 
3.  Write a poem showing character.  Author Jane Yolen defines poetry as “compressed emotion.”  Take out any words that aren’t absolutely necessary.