Article by Melissa Salisbury
The Write Links’ professional development session for April was on writing humour and was more than ably presented by Dave Lowe. The online meeting format did nothing to take away from Dave’s sense of humour, which is quick and self-deprecating. The session was both informative and entertaining, and Dave was very generous, sharing his knowledge and experience freely with the Write Links group.
Dave’s number one tip was to read your story aloud because it helps identify whether the wording and punctuation work… or not. His other tips included the following:
Models of funny stories
Dave outlined two models of funny stories:
Types of humour
Punchline at the end of the sentence
Dave advised that the punchline works best at the end of the sentence and provided the following example. In the first example, the punchline is buried in the middle of the sentence:
Dad meanwhile was frozen in shock and still holding the shoe above his head – like he was The Statue of Liberty but with a size seven trainer instead of a burning torch.
By moving the punchline to the end of the sentence, he increased the humour in the sentence considerably:
…like he was The Statue of Liberty but, instead of a burning torch, he was holding a size seven trainer.
According to Dave exaggeration can be funny, especially if it’s a child narrating the story, as long as you don’t over-use this type of humour. He provided the following example, which uses the rule of 3 (discussed later), creates strong images and finishes on the funniest comparison:
The sound was spectacular: like a motorbike, crossed with a trombone, crossed with an annoyed duck.
Using one strong image can be equally effective and keeping the exaggerating sentence short lowers the risk of taking the reader out of the story. For example:
Dad was dancing. If you could call it dancing- you could also call it ‘hopping from foot to foot like a demented chicken’.
The rule of three
This approach generally uses two normal examples and one unexpected example but can also use three unexpected examples (with the funniest example last). Dave’s examples of the rule of three included:
I’ve been to all the great cities: Paris, Rome, Logan.
Dave then ran two writing exercises to give us all an idea of writing exaggeration/hyperbole and attempting the rule of three, and there were some fantastic efforts from the talented Write Links group.
Thank you, Dave, for a memorable professional development session.
Write Links’ first Professional Development session for 2020 got off to a sizzling start and was kept short and sweet, keeping with the stamina of the short story. Mia Macrossan shared sensational take home tips for writing the short story for children and insight into what the judges are looking for.
Tuck Shop Takeover by Combat Dad, written by Debbie Smith and winner of the 2018 StoryLinks Short Story Competition was used as a sample writing piece to help demonstrate Mia’s tips.
#10 Top Tips
1. Do enter competitions because they
Writing in poetic form, whether it be rhyme or free verse, can be more difficult than a traditional narrative structure. There are many benefits to writing in verse. The key points that were discussed were that writing in verse slows down the words so they are not lost in quantity, but rather the quality amplifies the emotion being conveyed.
Then Kathryn put our writing muscles to the test! She demonstrated a range of different poetic styles, how she used them, how to write them, then gave us challenges for us to use our creativity and a lot of muscle power to write in each style. We explored Didactic Cinquians (only 11 words long!); Haikus (only 3 lines with less than 17 syllables); Solages (for a joke) and Zentangle Poems as a form of Erasure Poetry (using a pre-existing text, finding a free verse poem within, then creating zentangle designs to emphasize the poem by disguising the unused text).
For more information about Kathryn Apel and her collection of books, check out: https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/
For more information about The Queensland Writers Centre, see: https://qldwriters.org.au/
Photography by Maria Parenti-Baldey and KRC Photography.
KR Clarry is an OP1 graduate of Logan and a Teacher of 14 years’ experience with a strong passion for life long learning. She has taught in State, Catholic and Independent schools as well as having roles with a University and an International Education Company delivering ICT professional development to school administrators, staff and students.
KR loves to read, write and bring stories alive through modelled and shared reading and writing experiences. She is currently working on many exciting projects.
When she isn’t lost in a world of creative imagination, KR likes to do ballroom dancing, bush walking and photography, as well as volunteering for a range of different community charities.
KR’s ultimate goal is to make a positive difference in the world and works to inspire children to aim high to be the best versions of themselves that they can be.
Photograph by Special Memories Photography.
East bank of the river:
Saturday morning, Bryon the bear woke with a dream. Winter was on its way and he needed the perfect hibernation hut. The island in the middle of the river was the perfect spot. He had logs, mud, and wifi all ready to go.
West bank of the river:
Saturday morning, Florence the fish woke with a daring idea. The island in the middle of the river was the perfect place for her 15 metre diving board. Florence could do a double half-pike backwards somersault and not even make a splash. She had logs, mud and sunscreen all ready to go.
To the island they went.
On the east side of the island, the bear started to build.
On the west side of the island the fish started to build.
‘This is going to be the most comfortable hibernation spot ever,’ said Byron while he worked.
‘This is going to be the tallest diving board in the country,’ said Florence while she worked.
They were both so buy building, hammering, drilling and designing, that they didn’t even notice one another.
They didn’t even notice Charles the cat from the City Council, standing right between them, holding a very legal looking piece of paper and shaking his head.
‘Do you have a permit?’ he asked the bear and the fish.
‘I don’t need a permit to hibernate,’ said Byron.
‘I don’t need a permit to dive,’ said Florence.
‘Unless you have a permit to build,’ said Charles, ‘I’m afraid you are going to have to tear all of this down.’
Florence looked at Byron.
Byron looked at Florence.
‘Did you know?’ said Byron… ‘That cats can’t swim?’ said Florence.
The island in the middle of the river, is now home to one Olympic quality diving board, a sleeping bear – and excellent wifi.
JM Wisbey writes funny things for children, and for her own amusement. She doesn’t want to die one day with all of these ideas still stuck in her head.
Bear was sick of living on the island.
"I am destined to be on Broadway," he declared, "not stuck here with only you for company. Fish: do something amazing."
Fish leapt out of the water—as high as Bear's knees.
"Meh," said Bear. "That wasn't very high. Nobody would want to see 'Bear and the not-very-high-jumping fish' on Broadway."
Fish leapt out of the water again—as high as Bear's chest.
"Better," said Bear, "but still not very impressive. Nobody would want to see 'Bear and the somewhat-high-jumping-fish' on Broadway."
Fish leapt out of the water again—as high as Bear's nose.
And before Fish could fall back into the water, Bear opened his mouth and swallowed Fish whole.
"It was a silly idea to take a fish on Broadway, anyway," he said.
Annaleise Byrd is an aspiring children's author who talks all things bookish at The Byrd and the Bookworms.
Science Report Following the Crash of Bear’s Boat on Fish’s Island
Prior Knowledge: Bear is an idiot. Who else would sail their boat directly into a storm?
Aim: Build an aeroplane to fly Bear off island.
Prediction: Bear will weigh us down unless we can create enough lift.
Observation: Searched the island and could not locate pieces to make an engine or wings. Bear laughed at me.
Result: Unsuccessful. Wrong pieces.
Aim: Build a raft using bamboo and parts from the wreckage from Bear’s boat.
Prediction: Bear will weigh us down and probably sink the raft.
Observation: Located bamboo and a sharp rock. Successfully cut down bamboo into raft size pieces. Used rope from the boat to tie the bamboo together. Raft looks good.
Result: Unsuccessful. Bear too heavy.
Prediction: I am a fish. I can swim. I will get off the island in no time.
Observation: Bear cried when I said my plan, but then he walked with me to the shore.
Result: Unsuccessful. Couldn’t leave Bear behind.
Sophia is a multi-tasking ninja by day and an author in the early hours of the morning. She has one published book (so far) with 3 more on the way in 2019.
Follow Sophia on Instagram @sophia_evans_author or Facebook @SophiaEvansAuthor for updates, written words and random thoughts.
Justine wrote and illustrated her first picture books for Children's Book Week when she was in primary school, and she's been writing and drawing ever since. Justine lives in Brisbane near a lovely creek where you will often find her communing with nature. Justine's picture books express her keen observation of life and her delight in understanding who and what and where and when and how and why! While her creative interests stretch far and wide, melding words and pictures into a story has Justine captivated.