February 16, 2012
:)) LOL : )) hahahahahaha : ))))
did you hear the one about....
Jokes! Jokes are a great source of plot ideas. An established writer gave me this tip years ago and it has served me well.
Jokes, you see, are plots in miniature. Stories sealed up and ready to go. You’ve got your beginning, middle, end, your conflict, your characters – flaws and all. All you’ve got to do is flesh it out. Expland on it. Change gender and setting if possible. And no, it doesn’t have to be funny because many jokes (indeed, stories) need an element of tragedy to make comedy (and vice vearsa) and you can just crank up the aspect you want to emphasize.
Here’s a joke that gave me an idea for a short story recently shortlisted for a competition:
“It was Ryan’s funeral and the pallbearers were carrying the casket out from the church. When they bumped into a pillar, one of them heard a moan from inside the coffin. They opened the lid and found Ryan alive. He lived for another ten years before he properly died. Another funeral was held for him and, as the pallbearers were carrying out the coffin, Mrs Ryan shouted “Now, watch out for that pillar!”
OK, it’s the way ya tell ‘em… But the point is that they don’t have to be the funniest jokes – just so long as there is a story in there, a universal truth with which your readers will react and engage. Wordplay/puns won’t work so well, go for the story…
Here’s another one you can chew on for a story idea (it goes down well in the creative writing classes I give in an English prison…)
The defendant knew he didn’t have a prayer of beating the murder rap, so he bribed one of the jurors to find him guilty of manslaughter. The jury was out for days before they finally returned a verdict of manslaughter. Afterward the defendant asked, ‘How come it took you so long?’ the juror said, ‘All the others wanted to acquit’.
From Ireland, Sue Healy is Literary Manager at the Finborough Theatre, London, a full-time Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. Her book on theatre literary management is published by Routledge, December 2022.
Sue is an award-winning writer for stage, TV, and prose writer.
Her current project, a 6x60minute TV series, is under option. She is under commission with Lone Wolf Media, producers behind PBS’ “Mercy Street”, to co-write the pilot and treatment for a six-part TV series.
Her most recent stage-play, Imaginationship (2018), enjoyed a sold out, extended run at the Finborough and later showed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. Her previous stage productions include Cow (Etcetera Theatre, 2017) and Brazen (King’s Head Theatre, 2016), funded by Arts Council England. Sue’s short plays have been performed at the Criterion (Criterion New Writing Showcase), Arcola (The Miniaturists) and Hackney Attic (Fizzy Sherbet Shorts).
Her radio work includes nine plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (Opening Lines winner), WLRfm and KCLR96fm.
Sue has won The Molly Keane Award, HISSAC Prize, Escalator Award, Meridian Prize and has been published in nine literary journals and anthologies including: The Moth, Flight, Tainted Innocence, New Writer, Duality, HISSAC, New European Writers. She has been writer-in-residence on Inis Oírr, Aran Islands, and at the Heinrich Boll Cottage on Achill Island. She has also benefitted from annual artist residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, and at Ginestrelle, Assisi in Italy.
An academic with a PhD in modern theatre history, specifically the Royal Court Theatre, Sue has presented her research internationally. She spent eleven years in Budapest, editing Hungary A.M. She has a PhD in modern theatre history (Royal Court Theatre) and is a UEA Creative Writing MA alumnus.
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February 16th, 2012 at 22:33
What can I say? Great advice, and great jokes. Particularly the last one.
February 16th, 2012 at 22:48
Yet another great tip Sue:)Thanks.x
February 16th, 2012 at 23:24
I’d never thought of this. And you’re right about all jokes having an element of tragedy to them. Try telling a joke like the last one to someone without a sense of humour, and you’ll find out…
February 17th, 2012 at 00:54
Very true. Thanks for sharing your insight. I will use it in future jokes…and stories. 🙂
February 17th, 2012 at 01:33
Wonderful post and I loved both of your stories.
February 17th, 2012 at 01:52
Oh, wow. What a great idea! I bet there are a million bad jokes out there waiting to be turned into fantastic stories. Thanks for the great idea for me to totally swipe.
February 17th, 2012 at 09:06
I’ve thought about taking an improv just to think faster and improve plot connections. thanks.
February 19th, 2012 at 11:41
So excited! I’ve been awarded the Liebster (Loved / Beloved / Favorite ) Blog Award by the wonderful http://theyearofwonderfulweekends.wordpress.com This award is to recognize bloggers who have less than 200 followers and aims to give them something of a deserving spotlight. There are some guidelines that have to be followed while giving or receiving the Award.
The rules for receiving the award:
Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
Copy and paste the award on your blog.
Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their favorite bloggers and keep it going!
Liebster Blog Award!The five blogs I would like to nominate for the award are (in no particular order)
All of these I enjoy reading, for various reasons. I’m still relatively new to blogging, and on some of these blogs I can’t see if they have more than 200 followers, so apologies if that’s the case
February 19th, 2012 at 13:27
Excellent idea and awesome jokes. I will have to keep this in mind and try it soon. As a former band director, bad jokes came with the job so I should have ample story-lines now!
February 19th, 2012 at 14:24
Loved the jokes, and the proverbs. And thanks too for the competition listings. I was planning on trying for the Artists’ & Writers’ but my short story just wouldn’t finish itself in time to meet the deadline.
Thanks Sue for a great, fun and informative blog.
February 21st, 2012 at 19:31
Sue, I enjoy your blog so much, I nominated it for the Kreativ Blogger Award. While this is simply a peer award, I feel it’s a great idea to let other bloggers know what they write stands out. Here’s a link to my nomination of your blog: http://poetryinblackandwhite.com/2012/02/20/kreativ-blogger-awardpoetry-in-black-and-white/