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Lorraine Mace

Writers Bureau Tutor Talks About Writing Humour

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Download a PDF of the main points made in Lorraine's video.

You can read a transcript of Lorraine's video below;

HOW DID YOU START WRITING HUMOUR?

I was a Writers Bureau student and Assignment 5 called for a humour piece which I attempted and really enjoyed. I discovered I had a knack for it. I went on to write several more pieces from the point of view of an ex-pat living in France and the editor of Living France Magazine gave me a regular column as a result. When I moved to Spain the editor of Spanish Magazine offered me a similar column and I now write humour for Writing Magazine.

WHAT MAKES YOUR WORK FUNNY?

I tend to use situations that could happen to just about anyone. I draw word pictures so that my readers can see events unfold. I invite them to laugh with me and sometimes at me but I don't mind that.

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR IDEAS?

I find them everywhere, all around me, whatever I'm doing. Whether I'm working on a non-fiction article, or I'm writing a book, or I'm attending an event that could actually be quite a serious event, something will happen that makes me smile – it might not even be noticed by anybody else but I pick up on it and then I will build an article around that one tiny point.

TIPS TO START WRITING HUMOUR

Non-fiction humour works best when it relates to events in a writer's own life so, if something strikes you as funny, note it down. It's amazing how often  the best articles, the funniest articles, come from a non-humorous situation.

WHAT'S THE FORMAT OF HUMOROUS NON-FICTION?

Humorous non-fiction should be written in a lively and chatty tone. Imagine that you are telling a story to a friend and, like any story, it should have a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning should signal from the outset that this is a humour piece so that the reader knows not to expect something serious. The ending should refer back to the beginning and tie it up with a good punchline. Opening lines and closing paragraphs make or break a humour piece.

DO YOU USE HUMOUR IN OTHER GENRES?

I use exactly the same style of humour in my children's book which my agent  is marketing for me. Although this is a horror story, it is interspersed with exactly the same type of humour as I use in my articles. I write humour verse. I won the Petra Kenney International Poetry Prize for Humour and I've used humour in my latest non-fiction book, which is a book of tips for people who wish to move abroad. I find using humour in serious subjects helps people to read things that would otherwise by very dry.

 
 

Theresa Gooda Writers Bureau's Student of the Year 2021

“I began my first Writers Bureau course (Comprehensive Creative Writing) in 2007. Having more than covered the course fees from published pieces I have never looked back. Initially my ambitions were to get going. I knew I wanted to be a writer, I just didn’t know how to go about it, or, if I’m honest, quite what I wanted to write. Since, I have gradually blended a teaching career with writing, first with articles and short stories, then increasing the writing commitment dramatically when I secured an agent in 2016 to ghostwrite a series of memoirs. This year I have undertaken The Art of Writing Poetry course to really hone my skills in what I now realise is a genre I love - and have already had my first poems published.”

Theresa Gooda - Writers Bureau Student of the Year 2021

Read Theresa's full story

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