Blink and we’re back again! It’s time for July’s edition of #WriteCBC, with a writing tip and task from this month’s special guest Kirsty Eyre. Kirsty studied with us in London back in 2017. Cow Girl – the novel she worked on with us – went on to be awarded the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Unpublished Prize in 2019. Cow Girl follows protagonist Billie as she returns home to the Yorkshire farm which she left behind for life in London and is out in eBook now!
If you haven’t taken part in #WriteCBC before, we’re delighted to have you join us – and you can quickly get up to speed by reading this blog with information about how to play. It’s lots of fun and you might just win a free place on one of our six-week online writing courses.
Kirsty’s Writing Tip:
Instead of just describing how your protagonist feels in a particular situation, try injecting some humour by having your character use a witty comparison. This shows more about your character and their life AND it’s funny – always a bonus!
Funny novels are back on trend. I’d like to think they never really went away, but they sort of did for a while (following on from the genre that was dubbed ‘chicklit’, much to the irritation of the people writing it!). But yes – they’re back – and that makes total sense to me. There are surely lots of us who are most keen to be amused and entertained in these long months of confinement and grimness …
The tricky thing with writing funny novels is that the moment you announce your book is intended as a comedy when pitching to agents or publishers, you’re putting huge pressure on yourself to be laugh-out-loud funny. And really, that can be very difficult to pull off. In my view (and this IS just my view), it can work better to pitch your story, and do it in a funny way. Then let the reader discover the wit or absurdity or massive belly-laugh for themselves as they start to read …
But I’m getting off the point – back to Kirsty’s tip … Frankly, whether or not your novel or story is intended to be a comedy, it doesn’t hurt to show the funny side. This can be anything from big comedic episodes to just using a little bit of lightness to freshen up your scenes and perhaps show your character’s wit. Your own memories and comic observations (write them down in that notebook as they occur to you!) can offer fertile ground for humour – and can help your readers to connect with your character. If your reader can recognise and connect with an off-the-cuff observation in your story, they will bond all the more with your character and will want to read on …
Here’s an example, from Kirsty’s debut Cow Girl: When Billie introduces her new girlfriend to her Gran and Dad, the whole occasion is utterly cringe and very unpredictable …
‘I start to feel a little bit like I did in my German GCSE oral exam, when I wasn’t sure what topic of conversation would be next on the list, and whether I would conclude the hour without fainting.’
Kirsty’s Writing Task:
Your character has been given some shocking news – but how does this news make them feel, and what funny/bizarre memory is called to mind by that feeling? It might be quite unexpected! Write me your mini-scene using a humorous comparison
So here’s your chance to have a go at using a humorous comparison to bring a scene and character to life and to make us laugh – or at least smile wryly. In your mini-scene, see if you can set the scene for us with a little bit of context to help us understand what the shocking news is and who is present. Show us how your character feels on getting this news by giving a witty comparison, drawing on some memory or observation of your character’s that’s funny in and of itself – or which is funny because of the way you’re using it and the comparison you’re making.
Off you go, people! We would like to be amused …
For more comedic inspiration check out Kirsty’s blog: Top tips for writing comedy.
Our winner is … Lyndsey C (@writerlynds):
The image of her son teetering on stage in a lion costume flashes into her mind. Because why have a normal nativity play? He roars then trips over his tail, knocking baby Jesus from the crib. The head falls off. Mary cries.
‘Are you sure you want to be an actor, dear?’
There is so much relatable humour in this scene. Many of us have seen or even been in one of the nativities with extra characters so that all the children have parts! We loved how Lyndsey introduced her scene with the funny memory before revealing the current ‘shocking news’ that the little falling lion is all grown up … and wants to be an actor. The prose itself is also wonderful in its simplicity: Lyndsey shows us humorous actions without embellishing them with descriptions.
Congrats Lyndsey, you’ve won a place on the six-week online creative writing course of your choice!
This month’s entries were so fun, and we’ve decided to award five runners-up! Well done @Mishima10491319, @rachel_typing, @LisWs13, @CharlieSandero and @Susanna777. You each win a copy of Kirsty’s hilarious debut Cow Girl. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to claim your prize, get the eBook now or opt for the paperback out this September.