comedic critiquing

Posted on May 16, 2008


My latest story to come close to being finished is a 2,000 word job that addresses the concept how would ancient gods cope with the modern world. In this instance, not terribly well. After Odin decided to turf the gods out of Valhalla, Thor finds himself trying to retain his sense of what he was, in a modern world that simply doesn’t want it. Things are not helped by the fact that he works in an insurance office. The story opens with Thor stepping out of bed with his foot finding the spot where the cat had vomited during the night. Things pretty much go downhill from there.

This evening the piece was discussed at a small critique circle. Two of those present are pretty much a comedy act by themselves and usually leave me in hysterics. As they found my story funny, that just encouraged them further. But some good ideas came out of it that should make the piece better and stronger. For example, the story opens with Thor stepping in cat vomit and cursing the feline, but it was pointed out to me that the cat itself is never seen. ‘It’s Freir’s cat,’ comments one of the Dynamic Duo, Freir being a Nordic Goddess. So now Freir is being added to the story as the flatmate from hell whose cat likes to use Thor’s bedroom as a toilet, or something like that. It all loses a bit in translation.

What I am leading up to is commenting on the value of getting others to critique your work. It can add so much value to it. I have much greater confidence in getting the story revised to be a stronger, funnier piece and placing it somewhere.

Before I start the rewrites on that, I have to do some rewrites on a piece for uni – my version of Cinderella that turns things on its head. My Cinders is a fat pig who is horrible to her gorgeous step-sisters. She announces she is marrying the prince. Her father isn’t happy until he learns that first, the queen is giving them a brewery as a wedding present, and second that the prince supports the same football team. I did have some fun stuff in there about the prince having a foot fetish, and Cinders describing him as hung like a horse (well almost, she admits after remembering pony club). However the story is supposedly to be for a young adult audience so I decided to take those bits out.

If I can make myself laugh writing stuff like this nonsense, then the chances are I can make somebody else laugh as well eventually. Plus I find it can be such a rewarding challenge to develop a nonsensical piece to the point of being able to con someone into publishing it. I am still quite proud of getting my bloody ridiculous bit about fairy tale characters as professional wrestlers published a couple of years back. 🙂 I have been reading Jasper Fforde lately and his wonderful lunacy must be rubbing off on me.

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