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Write Your First Play – To Outline Or Not to Outline

To outline or not to outline? This is a question many writers ask themselves. Some feel that it stifles their creativity; they like to discover the end of the play, not pre-plan it ahead of time. Others find it helpful to work out the story before they get too deep into the dialogue.

When writing your first play, consider using an outline. Use it as an exercise to place your play on the page in an organized fashion. The outline will allow you to step back and see the play as a whole. To consider the big picture. The most important thing to remember about outlines is that they are not written in stone. The outline is merely a guideline toward what the play could be. Playwrights even change the direction of their play after completing the outline!

This outline includes the title, a description of each scene, a description of the characters, and a definition of the main conflict. Follow these steps to create an outline for your play.

Title of Play: Come up with a title for your play. What will tell something about the story and attract an audience?

Basic Story: Write out your story in scenes. Each scene should have a header (SCENE ONE), a time and place (8:00 in the evening, Jenny’s backyard) and a description of the action.

List of Characters: List all of the characters in your play. For each, give their age and physical appearance. Then write a one line description about their personality.

Major Conflict: What is the Major Conflict of the Play? Write this in one sentence.

Source by Lindsay Price

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Literary Cubism – A Non-Structured Structure For Twenty-first Century Storytelling

The world moves faster these days. From political sound bites to the latest teen idol (who is it this week?) to the rolling scenes of music videos, things come, things go, other things take their place and then they, too, go.

But literature, good literature, is meant for savoring. It lingers. Touches. Whispers. Long after the written words are gone from view, they play music in our minds. Herein lies the conundrum. How can twenty-first century literature be fitted to a world that moves faster, to a public who wants and expects a crashing avalanche of continuous enticement?

One answer: Literary cubism.

The Eleventh Edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary offers a definition of cubism that describes an artistic style of abstract structure which simultaneously displays multiple aspects of the same object in fragmented form.

OK.

Hmmm…

The “same object” in that working definition is my story. The “multiple aspects” and fragmented forms which I display include poems, e-mail messages, personal notes and legal documents, to name a few. And, yes, there’s room and necessity for blocks of traditional prose in literary cubism.

Cubist writing is liberating. It adds to a writer’s toolbox for telling his or her story. We’ve always had description and dialogue to set scenes, to build moods, and to create consistent, compelling characters. It feels good to now have the text of an e-mail message to do any or all of those things. We can also tap into poems, personal notes, grocery lists, and any other form of written media. These can all be used to great effect to show a lifestyle, to define a character’s motives and psyche, or to paint the tensions and emotional contours of a relationship.

As I said before – liberating.

Enough about theories of liberated lingual expression; how does literary cubism play out in application? Pretty well. In a nutshell, “Resolution 786” tells the story of a philosophical, emotionally wounded American engineer who finds himself in combat operations in the Iraq War while simultaneously trying the Lord for crimes against humanity in a courtroom setting. Literary cubism made it possible to create the tapestry of a unified experience across these wildly disparate settings, an experience of spiritual self-realization in the context of a physical realization of human mortality. Cubism gave me license to develop this multi-pronged storyline and to build my central themes using a variety of literary media presented from the perspectives of many different characters. Indeed, one vignette consists mostly of a set of e-mail messages written by the mothers, wives, daughters, lovers and girlfriends of the soldiers fighting in Iraq. In writing that part of the novel, I was struck by the blunt directness with which an author can develop characters and define relationships through e-mail messages.

But as much license as literary cubism bestows, there are still some “Do Not Drive” lanes on this literary highway. Do not use incorrect grammar, spelling or punctuation (unless you’re Cummings “sketching” a poem onto the page). Do not use flat, un-interesting prose. And, whatever you do, do not let your focus stray from telling a good story. The grandest literary artistry is for naught if you fail to tell a good story.

Yes, with literary cubism, you run risk of having your storyline devolve into un-integrated snippets of plot and story, but you run the same risk in traditional prose. Re-writing, revising and re-imaging enhance the integration of your multiple media. And as one of the characters in Resolution 786 explains while defending against the criticism of realism in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis:

“I don’t think The Metamorphosis really happened. Samsa didn’t turn into an insect. If he had turned into an insect, he would have stopped considering his own consciousness. No, Samsa became a human being who was trapped inside an insect, which is fundamentally different than becoming an insect. And as far as being realistic, if a work of artistic expression doesn’t have a traditional structure, that doesn’t mean that, taken as a whole, it doesn’t still have some valuable or otherwise instructive form or substance.”

So go ahead and wake up an insect. Go ahead and put the Lord on trial. And feel free to use a cubist structure through it all.

I find literary cubism to be a sharp, fresh and consistently interesting method for constructing novels. Considering how fast our world moves today, how flashed and multi-variant our entertainment media and tastes are, I’m surprised that more writers don’t use cubism. It’s an ideal structure for story telling in the twenty-first century.

Source by Mohamed Mughal

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Acupuncture Marketing – Top Acupuncture Marketing Tips to Beat the Recession – Getting Referrals

With all the financial doom and gloom out there it’s easy to get worried about the impact of the recession on your acupuncture practice. This series of articles covers some of the best acupuncture marketing strategies to beat the recession and ensure a constant stream of clients coming into your clinic.

I have personally used these techniques to ensure my own acupuncture clinic has stayed thriving. I have also taught many others how to do the same. The strategies work whether you are just starting out in practice or if you are well established. Not only are they easy to implement but once set up many of them run themselves, drawing in a constant stream of new clients, leaving you free to get on with doing what you love – helping people feel well.

This article tells you specifically how to get more referrals.

Every acupuncturist knows that referrals are one of the best sources of new clients for your practice. But how can you encourage your existing clients to recommend you to their friends? The best way is to set up a referral system. You can set up a referral system so that every time one of your clients refers someone to you, they get a discount on their next treatment.

You can easily do this by sending out a letter or email to all your clients thanking them referring their friends to you. Explain to them that from now on every time they refer someone to you they will receive 40% (or whatever percentage you choose) off their next treatment. Set it up so that they receive the discount once their friend has attended the first session.

You can also make discount vouchers for your clients to give to their friends. This way both the person referring and the person being referred can receive a discount when a referral is made. Using both of these incentives together will massively increase your referrals. We implemented this strategy at an acupuncture clinic in London and the number of referrals tripled from one month to the next.

Source by Michael J Arnold

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PR-Tips for Debut Novelists

2010 has been a great year for my sister and Dutch author Yolande Schyns. One and a half-year, night after night she worked on her debut novel and after searching for a publisher for months, on 25 September her big day had arrived. Yolande has realised her dream, her debut novel Opening Night has been published and her first book presentation has happened. In Amsterdam, Cécile Narinx, Editor-in-Chief of Dutch ELLE received the first copy and good interviews followed, such as in the regional Dutch paper Het Limburgs Dagblad/Dagblad de Limburger. Elle.nl organised an online book promotion and the author received many positive reviews, such as via Leestafel and via several well-known beauty blogs for young women in their twenties. Her fan-page, Opening Night on Facebook, continues to grow in the meantime. PR has played an important role following the publication of her debut novel. “A dream came true”, says Yolande in one of her interviews. I asked her a few more questions.

Publishing Process

“Un amazing moment was when the publisher (Uitgeverij Leonon Media) decided to publish my novel. I already had received a few hopeful reactions from publishers, but no commitment”. The novelist gave special attention to the cover photo, which was taken by her partner, Mathi Vijgen. The young model is Julia Reichert, an acquaintance of the writer. The novel is set amongst others in Maastricht, the capital of Zuid-Limburg, the most Southern province of the Netherlands. The writer was born in this part. “One day we went to Maastricht to take some 200 photos of Julia at several beautiful locations, such as the Kruisherenhotel. In the end we decided together with the publisher for the photograph where Julia was standing on the Hoge Brug, one of the famous city bridges, looking over the river Maas. When you then are at the printer to check the right colour red for the cover, you are absolutely sure that your book will be published soon and you feel really proud”.

Book Signing

The novelist talks with enthusiasm about another peak, the signing of Opening Night on 4 December at Selexyz Dominicanen, the well-known bookstore in the centre of Maastricht. “It has been a fantastic experience to be in the spotlight of the most beautiful bookstore of The Netherlands”. Following the signing, Selexyz decided to give Opening Night a prime position in the store.

PR Strategy

It’s not easy to get publicity for a debut novel, especially when a novel already has been published. The author still realises that it’s very important to have the right contacts and showing perseverance. She builds new relations on a daily basis and maintains them. From existing relations new contacts with regional print media have arisen who have published interviews, such as Gooi en Eemlander (the writer currently lives in the area where this newspaper is distributed) and online media such as Maastricht Aktueel. She now also has experienced an interview on the regional radio (L1). She says about the interviews: “the difference between a good and an average interview is largely about how much time one spends on preparation. What do you want to talk about? Off course it’s a benefit if you have any experience, but if you don’t have or hardly have any experience, you need any self-confidence. After a solid media training, your self-confidence has grown and this will benefit the dialogue with a journalist”.

Social media and bloggers are also included in the PR strategy. The idea to create a fan-page on Facebook arises mid October. The social network site is the ideal place for sharing experiences about the novel by readers. The author shares interviews on Facebook, but also reviews and photos of events such as book presentations. It’s stimulating to read the feedback about the novel from readers. People just tend to quicker purchase a book if others appreciate it. It’s also interesting for the author to learn about who purchases and where. Yolande updates the fan page herself and gives answers to questions and comments.

Since the principal character in Opening Night is in her mid twenties, the writer is very pleased that influential blogs for this age recommend her novel. Many young women visit blogs such as Beauty Lab where already positive reviews and reader comments have been published. The Beauty Bakery is an example of a web shop where Opening Night has been granted a prominent position between beauty products including the possibility to purchase the novel online.

It goes without saying that I will continue to help my sister with PR advice and experiment with social media such as using video on Facebook and intensifying the use of Twitter and LinkedIn.

I hope these tips help you with the PR for your debut novel. Should you have better ideas, I’d like to hear them.

Source by Veronique Schyns

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Pros and Cons of Replacement Spa Covers and Hot Tub Covers

It is not uncommon for traditional foam spa covers to be completely destroyed by a heavy rain or hail, even within the very first year of owning your spa. Because traditional rigid foam spa covers and hot tub covers do not absorb impact very well, they tend to get hammered, damaged or even broken by hail, falling debris and branches. When rain or hail pounds on the foam cover it causes it to break down and allows it to sink into your spa. If your spa cover or hot tub cover has been taking a pounding due to hail damage, it may be time to find a more resistant replacement cover.

Your first option would be to go for spa or hot tub covers which are constructed out of aluminum which would be stronger than the foam filled covers. The only downside to these types of covers is that they lack flexibility and would therefore take up significant space for storage purposes. What’s more, an aluminum cover could easily turn into a large and destructive Frisbee during wind storms.

An alternative would be to choose a roll spa or hot tub cover which is very strong and essentially serves as a portion of deck that is rolled over the spa. The cons to this type of cover however, are that it tends to collect bits of debris which make their way into the spa, and also doesn’t offer much in terms of insulation.

Another choice would be to go for a reinforced rigid foam spa cover or hot tub cover that has foam glued to the board for added strength which enables it to withstand devastating hail storms. Although, such covers also tend to transform into heavy and dangerous objects during wind storms, and could easily do serious damage to anything they land on. What’s more, once such a cover becomes saturated, you will need up to four pair of hands to open your spa.

Alternatively, you could opt for a spa cover or hot tub cover that is able to give or absorb impacts. Such air-filled spa covers are designed to guard against impact damage resulting from contact with branches, debris or severe hail. An air filled spa cover will be able to withstand fierce hail stones and storms without getting damaged. Such covers are normally tested for quality by having golf balls driven into them at close range.

Source by Joan One

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Termite Resistant Mulch – Tips on Using Mulch to Control Termites

by sinnga kilam 0 Comments

If you’re a homeowner with concerns about termites and eye towards landscaping and gardening, then you’ve probably heard about termite resistant mulch. Tips on using mulch to control termites are pretty thin on the ground, despite this.

Mulch and termites are not something that normally goes together. Or rather, they go together a little too well, which is why it’s generally recommended that you keep mulch away from your house to prevent termites.

Termites are small, social insects that thinking that rotten wood and dirt are the highest of fine dining. Mulch is composed of dirt and rotted wood, so it’s not hard to see why having mulch around your house might not be the best of ideas if you’re looking to keep termites away from your home.

This is generally good advice, but there are other options available to homeowners these days. Lots of places offer termite resistant mulch, which may help offset the problems with mulch and even serve as a deterrent to termites.

The trick to termite resistant mulch is what wood goes into the making of the mulch. Certain trees are naturally resistant to termites, and making mulch out of them results in mulch that is just plain unappetizing to the little buggers.

Cypress and redwood are the main two, and while they aren’t completely inedible to termites, they do appear to not particularly interest them. Since termites are relatively smart, in the insect sense, they will go for food that is easier to get to and more appealing to their tastes.

This a guarantee, by any means, so if you want to use mulch in proximity to your house, I recommend you take several steps to make sure that you don’t end up with uninvited wood eating guests.

First, make sure that you are in fact using the termite resistant mulch. Make sure you request it specifically, and make sure that you are getting it from someone reputable. The mulch is more expensive than the regular variety, but the thousands that you’ll save in repair and extermination costs will be worth.

Second, wherever you are going to put down mulch, put down a layer of heavy black plastic as well. Termites move and sense through the ground, so putting a barrier that they can’t eat between them and food is a good way to keep them out.

Next, invest in boric acid, which is available almost everywhere. Boric acid is toxic to many insects, including termites, but safe for people in animals. You want to mix it in with the mulch, both by putting it in by hand and by mixing it with water and saturating the soil. The boric acid will kill any termites who attempt to eat the mulch, so any stragglers that manage to get around the plastic and into the mulch won’t be reporting back anytime soon.

Coming all three of the methods will give you the most protection and least chance of termite infestation. It all starts with termite resistant mulch. Tips on using mulch to control termites? These are the best you’re going to find.

Source by William Tribble

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How to Make Out, Good Tips For Beginners

by sinnga kilam 0 Comments

Making out can be a wonderful thing, when done correctly. It’s really not as difficult as some people would have you believe, but it’s also not as easy as other people would have you believe. In this article, you’ll learn how to make out. Good thing to know, hmm?

To Make Out, You Must Already be Kissing (Duh)

First, you should already be kissing, or about to kiss. See some of the other articles I’ve written on how to accomplish this. I would love to give you a link, but I’m not allowed to. Check my profile!

Check Your Breath!

Make sure your breath smells good. Eat a mint, or suck on a hard candy. Be sure to dispose of these before you start making out! Do NOT chew gum. It is a common misconception that chewing gum will make your breath nice. It will, for a brief time, but then after a few minutes, the gum will just make your breath stale and your mouth dry. If you are really concerned about your breath, chew the gum for just a few minutes, so your saliva is working and the sweet sugary taste is in your mouth, then quickly dispose of it. Also, try to avoid strong flavored foods before making out, like garlic, unless of course, the person you’re about to kiss has been eating the same foods.

Brush the Teeth?

The best thing you can do, obviously, is brush your teeth. If you have a really important dinner date, it might be worth your while to pack a toothbrush, or leave one in your car. After the meal, excuse yourself to the bathroom for a few minutes, and brush your teeth! Your partner will definitely appreciate this easy step that will ensure your breath is fresh and minty (I prefer mint toothpaste anyway). 🙂

When your lips meet your partner’s, begin kissing in a rhythmic motion. Keep your lips slightly open, and even think about using the tip of your tongue. Stick to one side, to get comfortable with the motion.

The Secret Word

There’s a secret word that you can say, to help you practice this motion. I read it once, in a book, and tried it out, and it’s really quite amusing and useful. It perfectly mimics the required motion of open lips, darting tongue, and gentle rhythmic motion required for good making out. I reveal this word to you, for free, on my kissing blog. How to Kiss GoodThere’s a ton of great information about how to get a first kiss, how to make out, and much more on there. After you finish with this article, go check it out!

While your lips are occupied with your partner’s lips, remember to think about what the rest of your body is doing. Use your hands to hold your partner’s face and increase the intensity of the kiss. This works for both girls and guys! A great spot to put your hand is on the soft area behind the ear. You can also place your hands on their cheek, or the back of their head. If the kissing gets really passionate, your hands can travel just about anywhere, but for slower, more sensual kissing, keep your hands near their face or neck.

Try to avoid bumping teeth. If you do, just laugh it off, and keep kissing. Don’t forget to breathe!

So, now you know how to make out. Good luck!

Source by David P Fishman

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The New Cougar Dating Trend

After 20+ years of formal international research on the topic of younger men dating older women, I am seeing the Cougar dating trend changing. I am excited to see the last barrier to male/female relationships finally being dissolved and seeking its own level toward permanence. There are still older women who want a boy toy or a no strings attached relationship. They may be permanently fed up with seeking something long term, don’t want to remarry and enjoy the freedom of having a friend with benefits where there is limited or no drama. And that’s fine. As I often say on my Cougar dating site,”There is a lid for every pot.” But what I am noticing and hearing from both men and women on my site is that the younger men who are not “thrill seekers” or inexperienced at Cougar dating and the women who have gained positive experiences dating younger men and do not want to go back to dating men their age or older are looking for something more long lasting, meaningful and, dare I say it? Permanent.

Yes, statistics from my site are showing that some 90% of women are looking for love and perhaps even marriage to a younger man. The BBC reported in a documentary that 25% of our neighbors across the pond are happily married to younger men. 30% of older women are open to and dating younger men in the United States. Although there are many newcomers to Cougar dating, 45% of women who have dated younger men before and don’t plan going back to dating men their age or older. I am finding that the older Cubs, primarily mature young men in their late 20’s to 30’s and older, are interested in long term relationships, especially if they have previously dated or been married to older women. The Boy Toys (which is what I call the ‘serial players’ tend to be men from ages 18 to mid and even late 20’s who are inexperienced with women, laboring under what I have termed “The Myth of Stiffler’s Mom”, or thrill seeking with as many women as they can get preyed upon by. Yes, Virginia, the 30 year old male virgins do exist, and many of them are looking for an older woman to show them the ropes. The interesting thing is, once they experience a well rounded relationship with an older woman, they are way less inclined to suffer through the immaturity, selfishness and lack of life experience of a girl their age or younger. This is when many Boy Toys convert to devotees of Cougar dating. As one young Cub from Atlanta told me, “I was not looking for love. I wanted to hunt as many Cougars as I could and just have fun. And then I met this wonderful woman from New York.” He is totally in love; and isn’t love grand? He went from wanting to work his way up the age ladder to falling head over heels with his Cougar woman. I just love when people find each other, and as I often say, “there is a lid for every pot.”

Since Cougar dating is becoming more mainstream in the United States, more and more women are coming out of the closet. I am seeing more women from the midwest and the southern states joining the site this year over last year, when the majority of members were from larger cities such as Los Angeles. The UK and Canada have historically been “out” and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who has not heard the term “Cougar”. Hate it or love it, it is here to stay so women are starting to embrace it and define it for themselves. It is losing its derogatory connotation and men are finding that there is no “one definition fits all” Cougar. As the myths of the leopard print wearing, female predator gives way to soccer moms, secretaries, bank tellers, attorneys, the every day woman replaces the adolescent male fantasy, and women are becoming more comfortable looking at men 7 years or more their junior and saying, “Why not?” And more and more younger men are telling me they are falling in love with their Cougar women.

Mainstreaming Cougar dating is leading to world wide acceptance of this cross generational dating trend; a trend which is here to stay. My members are coming out of the closet to their friends and family members. Actuaries will even agree that statistically speaking, it just makes sense for an older woman to meet, date, mate and marry a younger man. I spoke with a retired Harvard trained medical doctor recently who told me that biologically it made more sense for a woman in her sexual prime to date and marry a man in his sexual prime. The women enjoy being with a man who is attentive, affectionate, energetic, vital, protective, fun and has less baggage than his older male counterpart. The men love being with a woman who is nurturing, mature, has life perspective, knows what she wants, isn’t needy, insecure or shallow. The pots have found their lids. The lids have found their pots!

It is only a natural segue and an easy look into the Cougar crystal ball to see the obvious: There will be more long term Cougar and Cub relationships and marriages just around the corner. Thrill seekers, however, need not apply.

Source by Dr. Fayr Barkley, Ph.D.

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Tips On How To Attract A Scorpio Man

by sinnga kilam 0 Comments

Are you hoping to get into a relationship with a Scorpio? It is not going to be easy unless you’re aware of what works and how to go about it. Many people are attracted to Scorpio’s and are never able to make things work, and it stems from not understanding how to pursue such people in the first place.

Let’s take a look at some of the tips that are going to make sure the Scorpio you’re in love with is attracted to you.

Defining Scorpio Men:

Before anything else, you want to understand what Scorpio men are like. This is going to help build the foundation for the rest of your approach and how you earn their trust.

The common personality traits include:

1) Intensity

2) Resourcefulness

3) Loyalty

4) Seriousness

These are the qualities you’re going to notice in a man such as this, and it will become evident in a hurry. They will carry these traits with them all the time, and it’s going to show whenever you interact with them.

So, what do you do to attract them and woo them?

1) Don’t Lie

The first thing you want to ensure isn’t happening is lying. If you’re honest, they’re going to respect you a lot more, and it’s going to do a lot for you in the long-run.

If you lie, they will see it.

They know when a person is lying, and you are not going to get past their sensors.

Make sure you are not playing with fire in such a manner as it won’t end well!

2) Share Emotional Secrets

Too many people don’t do this, and that is where you can lose out when it comes to Scorpio’s. This doesn’t mean you spill everything in one conversation but let them into your mind a bit.

This is going to illustrate to them that you also care about loyalty and trust.

Remember, this is one of their major character traits as they love loyalty and pay attention to it from the people around them.

3) Provide Your Full Attention

Don’t start to ignore them or think they won’t notice if you zone out a bit. Everybody is prone to doing this sometimes, but with Scorpio’s, you’re playing with fire, and it won’t be an attractive quality in their eyes at all.

They’re going to see right past it, and that is not something you want.

Look to provide your full attention to them when they’re speaking as that is going to resonate with them a lot more and it will do a lot for you in the long-term.

Those who pay attention tend to win the hearts of Scorpio’s, and this is seen all the time.

With these tips, you are going to attract the man of your dreams in no time, and they won’t know what hit them. Yes, these are the tips that work, and you have to take advantage of them if you are serious about getting into a proper relationship and seeing how things work out.

Source by Chloe Jenkins

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Writing For Comedy

The idea behind writing for comedy is easy enough to understand – make people laugh – but the elements that result in something that is truly funny are complex and varied. Comedy is essentially drama without the laughs, and, just as in drama writing, there are formulas to writing a successful comedy. Humor can be used in almost all aspects of writing: in conflict, in character development, in story structure, and so on.

Conflict in Comedy Writing

Conflict serves as a starting point for your story structure. It is what makes the story lead somewhere; it’s what gives your comedy a point. Conflict not only makes for easy, expandable laughing points; it can serve as motivating factors for the characters as the story develops and takes shape. Much like the three types of conflict in classic dramatic writing (man against nature, man against man, and man against himself), there are three basic types of comic conflict: global conflict, local conflict, and inner conflict.

Global conflict has to do with a character being at war with the world around him or her. In comedy writing, this can go one of two ways. First, a normal character may be placed into a comic world. For instance, in the television sitcom Arrested Development, the main character Michael stands as the voice of reason in a world that is relentlessly and hilariously against him. Alternately, a comic character can placed into the normal world. For example, the 2003 Will Ferrell film Elf placed a human who has been raised as an elf at the North Pole into real world New York City.

Local conflict has to do with man versus man. There are two ways to most effectively execute local conflict with comedic success: comic character versus a normal character or comic characters in opposition. Comic character versus a normal character places an outrageous character in opposition with a normal one. A good example of this method is television show Mork and Mindy, where Mork is the comic character and Mindy is just a normal person. Comic characters in opposition place two comically opposite characters in conflict. Perhaps it’s an obvious choice, but The Odd Couple is the perfect example of this type of conflict – their opposing comic personalities clash, making for a funny premise with plenty of room for conflict.

Inner conflict places man versus himself. This is considered by some to be the deepest type of conflict, and that’s no less true of comedy writing. In many cases, a normal character becomes a comic character in this type of conflict. A good example of this is The Mask starring Jim Carrey, where Carrey’s character is a normal person in possession of an artifact that turns him into what is essentially a cartoon character – the two sides of his personality are in conflict over which he should be.

Character Development

All that conflict leads us to where the conflict comes from – comic perspective. The most important part of a comic character is his perspective – what makes him think the things he thinks and do the things he does. It is his unique way of looking at the world. The more exaggerated the comic perspective, the funnier the character is going to be. For instance, a guy who sometimes gets paranoid is not inherently funny. A guy who is so paranoid that he spray paints his car silver (because ‘they’ can’t see silver) and makes a suit of tin foil is a good expansion of that paranoid person’s comic perspective and an effective use of exaggeration.

Exaggeration takes your character’s perspective to the end of the line, which is what will make that character funny. As such, comic perspective and exaggeration go hand in hand.

A good way to build on your character’s personality is to make the character flawed. People are more drawn to characters that have recognizable flaws – nobody is perfect, and if your character is imperfect in a hilarious way, you’ve got relatable humor.

Further development can be made in revealing your character’s humanity. The Comic Toolbox describes humanity as “the sum of a character’s positive human qualities that inspire either sympathy, empathy, or both.” Humanity unites your character with the audience, allowing sympathy and empathy to work at making the viewer care about your character. It’s important in all aspects of writing, but, in comedy, if a joke relies on the audience having any emotional bond with the characters and the humanity is not there, the joke will fall flat and people probably won’t be interested.

Concepts to Build On

Humor and comedy go back as far as writing itself; and, as in any art, most of the groundwork has been laid. It is important to know where the ideas have been developed and which concepts are the most solid ground for expansion, so that you have some direction with your writing and so you don’t wind up reinventing the wheel. Building on the concepts that have already been established as tried and true is the best way to ensure that you will get the most laughs.

Clash of context is one such example of a tried and true comedic concept. In general, the unexpected is what takes us by surprise and makes us laugh – clash of context takes advantage of this effect by taking something from where it belongs and places it where it does not.

There are a few ways to incorporate clash of context into comedy writing. Physical juxtaposition puts the items that clash physically close to one another. Emotional juxtaposition would place something emotional in an impassive setting or vice-versa – for instance, a hot dog vendor selling in the aisles at a funeral. Attitudinal juxtaposition has to do with the aforementioned conflict development strategy comic characters in opposition. The clash of context between the character’s personalities is what makes this strategy humorous.

Exaggeration is another important tool of the comedy writing trade. This one has a lot of range – it can, and should be, incorporated into many of the concepts and strategies discussed here (exaggeration of comic perspective, discussed previously, is one such example). Everything your characters do should have some level of exaggeration -mannerisms, understanding of the world (or lack thereof), responses, and so on – exaggeration keeps the character interesting and makes everything a little bit more outrageous.

In writing jokes, build tension and release. Go over jokes and ensure the payoff is positioned optimally in the joke. “Sometimes when a joke doesn’t work, fixing it is just a matter of rearranging the parts. When in doubt, put the funny word last.” If you give away the punch line of a joke before you’ve built it up, the joke is going to fall flat because there is no element of surprise. The longer you can build to tension without the audience losing interest, the bigger the payoff is going to be.

Tell the truth to comic effect or tell a lie to comic effect. If one way isn’t particularly funny, try the other. Telling the truth to comic effect has to do with pointing out the truth and the pain of a given situation explicitly. Telling a lie to comic effect is a little bit like sarcasm. For example, if a friend were to ask you to accompany him for a day trip to the DMV, you might say, “I can’t think of a better way to spend my day!” Obviously, it doesn’t sound like a very good time at all, but saying the opposite is what’s funny.

The rule of threes is very simple: setup, setup, and payoff. This method is best used in lists. Start with two seemingly normal things that go together and add something completely outrageous as the third. As an example, “I’ve got to run some errands … the bank, the grocery store, and the crack house.” The first two are obviously normal errands, while the third is shocking and takes the reader or viewer by surprise.

As with any kind of writing, the best way to get great results from comedy writing is to begin with a rough draft. Come up with a rough draft of a joke, then go back and ask yourself what the essence, the basic idea behind the joke is. Rewrite with that idea in mind to
make the most out of the joke’s potential.

The doorbell effect is when the character has a strong certainty of the outcome of a situation, then his – and the viewer’s – expectations are shattered. A good example of this is in the opening scene of the film Super Troopers, where three stoned teens have a freak out because a police car with its siren on pulls up behind them. The teens experience vast relief when the police car abruptly passes them, but, as they discuss their close call, one notices in the rear view mirror that the same cop has somehow gotten behind them and is approaching the vehicle. The teens expected that the cop had driven away, when their expectations were shattered by the lights in the rear-view.

One concept popular to sitcoms is the running gag – use a joke several times, but tweaked in new directions each time. Tweaking the joke ensures that it is going to stay fresh, and there are ideal ways to go about it. Change some details each time – the circumstances surrounding the joke, the lead-up to the joke, and so on. Escalate the importance of the joke each time it’s told, so that by the end it’s a proper laugh-riot. Lastly, change the source of the joke – have a different character make the joke.

Comic stories

The center and eccentrics approach to comic stories regards an everyman surrounded by comic characters. The audience relates to the everyman and experiences a bizarre comic world through his eyes.

A “fish out of water” approach places a normal character in a comic world or a comic character in a normal world. With a normal character in a comic world, the viewer experiences life in this new, hilarious world through the eyes of the normal, relatable person. With a comic character in the normal world, the viewer experiences what life is like when you’re new to the everyday.

Character comedy has to do with direct emotional war between strong comic opposites. This incorporates the character conflict “man verses man” into plot development.

Some comedy writing has its emphasis on supernatural powers as a driving comedic factor. The powers are used as a plot device to put the character into unique situations – like in the television sitcom Bewitched. It is important to keep in mind, when writing for powers, not to be hackneyed about it. The same old thing just won’t do because nobody will care, so if a writer chooses to pursue this method it absolutely must be original.

Ensemble Comedy is when there isn’t one main character, but rather the emphasis is on a group and how they interact. This is good for multiple intersecting storylines and is most apparent in sitcoms such as Friends or Seinfeld. While there are main characters to each of these sitcoms, the larger emphasis is placed on interpersonal character interaction.

One of the easiest – and least respected – comic story structures is an emphasis on slapstick. Slapstick is generally thought of as shallow and simple, though there is value in incorporating some slapstick in situations where there is something lacking.

The last type of comic story to be discussed is satire and parody. These can be the most challenging types of stories to make original and hilarious, but the payoff is great if you can pull it off. These are not only funny and relatable, but are oftentimes socially relevant. A good example of this is the wildly popular cartoon South Park, which often satirizes politics and parodies cultural phenomena.

Conclusion

Writing for comedy sounds like a lot of fun, and one might think that because it seems like a lot of fun that it is easy. This is not the case. Like any art, writing for comedy requires practice, patience, and knowledge of the underlying structures that make for quality work. The writer must consider not only what he finds funny, but what the audience will and in what context.

Bibliography

Vorhaud, John. The Comic Toolbox. Silman-James Press, 1994.

Perret, Gene. Comedy Writing Workbook. Sterling Publishing Co.,

Luff, Brian. “Writing Comedy Sketches That Sell”. Planet Comedy. 2008 July 25.

Source by Dave Mercier

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