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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

What I learned about comedy writing from John Cleese

What I learned about comedy writing from John Cleese, 

the Big Cheese of British Comedy

I enjoyed Mr Cleese’s recently published semi-autobiography. Here is an interview with him after the book came out
While Cleese's book isn't a guide on how to write an autobiography or how to have successful relationships it contains some marvellous gems about writing comedy which I would like to share with you.
  • In professional writing he encourages:- ‘If you kept at it, material would always emerge; a bad day would be followed by a decent one, and somehow an acceptable average would be forthcoming.’
  • ‘Always put the key funny word in a sentence at the end of it, as this will give it maximum impact.’ Hmmm worth reviewing our sentences in the light of this observation.
  • State of mind in writing comedy is important too and I read with delight the obvious - to those who have suffered from this - ‘The more anxious you feel, the less creative you are.’
Cleese’s Two Rules of Writing Comedy.
  • ‘First rule: get your panic in early. Fear gives you energy, so make sure you have plenty of time to use that energy.
  • Second Rule: your thoughts follow your mood. Anxiety produces anxious thoughts; sadness begets sad thoughts; anger, angry thoughts; so aim to be in a relaxed playful mood when you try to be funny.’

Yet what is truly funny? John Cleese worked on a lot of projects in radio, TV and film. The groups he worked with created what became famous comedies with varying types of humour. 
It’s fascinating and frustrating when he says ‘We all felt that about twenty percent of the show was comparatively weak, but there was constant disagreement about which twenty per cent that was.’ - huh. 
So professional actors and comedy writers can’t agree on what is the most funny - and what is the most fail - what hope do we, as beginning comedy writers, have of truly being humorous?
Sense of humour differs markedly from person to person. While in an audience we may be carried away by the laughter of people around us laughing; yet sitting alone in front of the TV or a movie we might laugh somewhere different in the story.
  • This is why I find ‘canned laughter' false and weird. It’s being commanded by an audience to laugh where it’s not natural for me to laugh. I don’t respond well to that kind of push. Other people like to feel they are laughing with the crowd. Incidentally the history of ‘canned laughter’ is an interesting one and here's where you can find out all about it Canned Laughter History
AJ Burton and I have spent a lot of time over the past two years crafting ‘The Hoodle’ a werewolf parody. When there’s just the two of you on your own laughing like loons over jokes of your own devising you really don’t know if anyone else will share the joke.

Check out 'Let's Speak English' Graham Chapman & Cleese with creative friends.
Like John C, AJ has done most of the actual physical writing of this novel; but, without having myself and others to bounce his jokes off and create situations which we deemed hilarious (as John Cleese did with his long term writing partner Gra - Graham Chapman) - The Hoodle would have been a weaker parody, less confident, with fewer characters and situations.
The simple truth is, as can be seen in the credits of any comedy, a comedy partner or team will devise insanely funny ideas together, which one person on their own could never do.
I don’t feel we wasted the many pleasant hours we argued, laughed, drank bottomless coffee, building jokes as wobbly as Jenga castles and doing our best to write them down to create the hilarious antics of Jake and Hemi as they try to destroy The Dog Who Must Not Be Named, before he destroys them and their friends.
Contact us for help with your comedy writing or publishing on Skype
ChristineLeovLealand or email quintessence.publications *at* gmail.com

Out soon:- The Hoodle. In every good online ebook store.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Bilbo Baggins begins writing his Red Book: There and Back Again



This video excerpt from LOTR sums up what writing feels like to me. It's messy and cozy, you are writing about what you love, you get interrupted. The help you rely upon isn't really helpful. Once the book is done, you have achieved something amazing but then what do you do?
Have one or two people read it, as those few friends and family read Bilbo's There and Back Again - or do you want more people to read your work? Maybe make the writing available so as many people as read Lord of the Rings could read your book?
If you would like that and know you need help - talk to me.
QP Publishing Coaching is my contact.
My team and I can provide you with solutions which will delight you, won't cost the earth and will help you get you writing career out of The Shire and into the Wide World where other people who are just dying to read your stories are waiting to find your book.
PS. I live only one hour from Hobbiton.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

I adore hand made books


TeoStudio Vintage Journals

Hand made books are on my mind and this post shares some links to hand made book sites that I really like.

I was eight years old when my mother taught me how to sew folded pages into a book. I then sewed a cover for the book from cardboard covered with my favourite fabric. The book was then filled with my pencil handwriting - I wrote a precis of the book, A Horse and his Boy by C S Lewis - then my favourite book.

Today there are wonderful papers, threads, cover fabrics and paints, hot glues and findings which mean that anyone wanting to make their own books has a lot of help - yet there are books hundreds of years old which were made only with natural materials of cloth, paper, leather and animal glue.

Why bind books by hand?
Printed books where the covers have deteriorated can be given durable covers - Aren't there some wonderful books in paperback that fall apart so quickly? They can be saved by binding with hand made board, cloth or leather covers.
Binding your own books is a very satisfying hobby and can make you money.
Hand made blank journals are a delicious treat to write poems, experiences, stories and thoughts in - something for your grand-children to inherit.

Pinterest has amazing information and images check out THIS  for
just a little taste.

Teo Studio make hand made books of a high quality with leather covers. I chose them at random - as excellent practitioners of the book binder's art.


Leather is wonderful. I've got a Kobo with a leather cover, how delicious it is to hold - and via smart technology the cover turns the device on and off when I open and close the cover.
Leather bound books are just as lovely as an ebook reader, whether the book is an old classic you have printed by Createspace.com and then bind a leather cover on yourself, or a book you wrote that you bind, or have bound; all leather bound books are precious.

Etsy.com is a terrific place to buy hand made books and journals. You could buy a different item for every one of your friends and family and still have more to discover.
Om Mandala Book, meditation book, handmade book, yoga book, mantra book, hindu symbol, spiritual text, sacred text, handmade paper, OOAK
OM - meditation book.
NB some links will expire as the books are sold.

Do you own a hand made/hand bound book? Would you like to?
Have you made your own bound book?