basilwhite (basilwhite) wrote,

My notes from "50 Tools Which Can Help You In Writing"

My notes from 50 Tools Which Can Help You In Writing, the collection of blog entries by Roy Peter Clark soon to be released as his new book "Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer." Quotes are followed by my notes.

"Reject cliches and 'first-level creativity.'" - A lot of comedy riffs are funny discoveries about a premise, but if I thought of riff directly from a premise, there's a good chance the audience can think of that riff too. That's why I write and workshop comedy by riffing off a premise and then riffing off the riffs. That takes the comedy into subsequent levels of creativity.

"Look for an opportunity in a story to use the sentence: 'Here's how it works.'" - Some of my first drafts are rants, then I look for an opportnity to add the line "Here's how it works" to find the cause-effect relationships in the rant and discover what the rant's about.

"Write your way onto page one." - You can write your way to headliner without stage presence (early Woody Allen), but you have to perform to move up the headliner chain (later Woody Allen).

"Voice is the sum of all the strategies used by the author to create the illusion that the writer is speaking directly to the reader from the page." - Voice is the strategies you use to make each listener think you're speaking only to them.

"Who becomes Character. What becomes Action (what happened). Where becomes Setting. When becomes Chronology. Why becomes Motivation or Causality. How becomes Process (how it happened.)" - I look at my jokes, then ask "What who/what/how/when/where/why questions does this answer? How can you answer them better?"

"Keep a daybook. Story ideas, key phrases, a startling insight, these can be fleeting." - Good reason to blog: report your writing ideas and phrases you want to use, what you wrote, what you plan to write, the who/what/how/when/where/why of your writing since your last entry. Post your rants and your friends will write tags. Open-source comedy.

"But what if we viewed (procrastination) not as something destructive, but as something constructive, even necessary?" - Procrastinating is rehearsal for the activity you're procrastinating while you lower your standards.

"Write a mission statement for your work." - My mission is to encourage audience members to create and indulge their own original coping skills by laughing at my stories of creating and using my own original coping skills.

"One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." - Delete all the details that don't serve the punchline.

"Who has something at stake here?" - good question for defining a joke.

"The central act of journalism is reporting, the gathering, verifying and rendering of important information." - You can define comedy this way: the topic's funny to you, so you gather, verify and render the important information about what's funny about the topic to make people laugh.

"I can never defend my story against criticism." - Never defend yourself, your behavior, your performance or your work against criticism, even when the critic is you. Instead, explain the goal that drove you to create the work as it is. Even when the explanation is to yourself. You can also use the principle of never defending yourself against criticism as a strategy to turn criticism into usable feedback: "X is bad" yields the response "I wrote X to achieve goal Y. How should I change X so that it achieves goal Y?"

"Writers often know what is wrong with a story when they hand it in." - You cna include what you don't like about the joke and/or your motivations for telling the joke in the joke.


  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded