Author Archives: debooker

About debooker

A brief (and somewhat ambiguous) biography. One hundred words, more or less, about David Booker might include the following: though lost in the cosmos without a compass, he has nonetheless managed to find his way into middle age. As to what he will do now that he is there is still a matter of speculation. He often seeks guidance from his youthful daughter as he alternately approaches and retreats from the slow expansion of his waistline and the slow collapse of Western Civilization as he knows it. He hopes the two will reach a libration (or libation) point and he will creep into old age with some dignity and clothes intact.

Random Acts of Poetry: “A little rendezvous”

I fly through the air with the greatest of ease.
If my engine cuts out, I have no trapeze.
Since I have no trapeze, there is no net.
If my engine cuts out, I may not live to regret.
Keep an eye on the sky, watch for me to come by
If my engine cuts out, wave and give me a sigh.
That mountain ahead may be my new home.
Across its ragged face, my body may roam.
If the pilot is sane, I may stay in the air.
If my pilot is nuts, then what do I care?
Birds sucked in the engine? I’ll have a bad day
But then, come to think of it, so will they.
I fly through the air with greatest of ease.
When this damn thing comes down, avoid the trees.
May the landing be soft, the pilot’s touch light
For I’m holding your arm and I’m holding on tight.
A bump as we land could cause an incident:
You could lose your arm and my bowels would be spent.
I fly through the air with the greatest of ease
If the engine cuts out, some regrets there will be.

–by David E. Booker

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Be gentle upon him

Be gentle upon him, whatever you do
For killing him outright, could leave you in a stew.
Then what will you do for the rest of the cruise?
Hide the body aboard and leave misleading clues?
Will you tell his friends, “Wait, he’s over there.”
Or strolling down the promenade without a care.
You’ll have to make up stories of where he might be
Which may keep you awake to a quarter past three.
And as you tell these stories of his life aboard the boat
Will you see his body out the window afloat?
Will he be smiling at you, his arm high in the air
waving you to join him, to promenade without a care?
And then oh then tell me what will you do
When he gives you the evil eye and thinks you’re a cutie too?

by David E. Booker

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Photo finish Friday: “Big Yeller Hoops Day”

Big Yellow Hoops Day on the highway.

Big Yellow Hoops Day on the highway.

Catching up to the hoops on the highway.

Catching up to the hoops on the highway.

Big Yellow Hoops ahead on the highway.

Big Yellow Hoops ahead on the highway.

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Haiku to you Thursday: “Shortly”

Running late. /

Will be there shortly. /

Incomplete.

[Editor’s note: Most haiku are 5 syllables for the first line, 7 syllables for the second line, and 5 syllables for the third line. This one is another shortened version with a structure of 3/5/3.]

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Writing tip Wednesday: “Comedy writing”

How do you write good comedy? Some of Britain’s finest comedians share their knowledge

By Bruce Dessau

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/comedy/features/how-do-you-write-good-comedy-some-of-britains-finest-comedians-share-their-knowledge-10182878.html

Writing comedy is not easy – which is why next weekend, aspiring comedy writers will be gathering in Llandudno in north Wales for the second annual Craft of Comedy Writing conference.

There, commissioning editors, producers, production company bosses and comedians will be divulging their trade secrets in a range of talks, discussions and networking sessions. It’s a great way to learn more about the industry – although it does cost £60. For a cheaper option, we have asked some the biggest names in comedy for their pithiest writing tips.

(For more information on the Craft of Comedy Writing Conference see www.venuecymru.co.uk)

Andy Hamilton
Sitcom writer
His new series ‘Ballot Monkeys’, a satirical sitcom set around the General Election, starts on C4, Tuesday at 10pm.

  1. Become a ruthless editor of your own stuff. You have to be brutal.
  2. Learn to be concise. Pay attention to the rhythm of a sentence and how a joke unfolds. Just moving an adverb can change it. I’m still learning.
  3. Make sure you invest in a character. Anyone can write jokes. Well, almost anyone. But if you are writing a sitcom it’s the characters that make it interesting. They have to resonate.

Reece Shearsmith
Actor/comedy writer
The latest series of Shearsmith’s ‘Inside No 9’, co-written with Steve Pemberton, is on BBC2 on Thursdays.
I think it’s important when writing, and especially sketches, that you very quickly let the audience in on what it is they are supposed to find funny. What is “the thing of it?” Let them in on the joke as quickly as possible. “Oh – I see, it’s a clown that doesn’t like children.” Or “Oh I get it – it’s a squeamish surgeon”. The quicker you get to that penny-dropping moment, the longer your audience have to enjoy the situation and find it funny. Also, try to be as lean as possible. Come in late, and go out early. More often than not, you can lose half of a scene quite easily and still impart the story. And above all else – hide the exposition! No one wants to sound like they are narrating facts. A neat trick is to hide exposition inside a joke. That way it feels valid, and its presence is disguised by a laugh.

Graham Linehan
Sitcom writer
To borrow an image from David Lynch, you’re looking for the big fish. The tiddlers flashing about just below the surface – the trite observations, the easy targets, the established joke-constructions – you need to ignore them and wait for the big one. An image or scene that makes you double over with laughter and could only have come from deep within your subconscious. The good news is that once you have it, the smaller jokes leading up to and away from the scene/sequence/sight gag will also feel fresh. To give you an example from my own work, Mrs Doyle wondering where the “perfectly square bit of black dirt” on the window came from is a set-up so odd the audience doesn’t even think of it as a set-up, and enjoy it for its own sake. So when Ted appears at the window with a Hitler moustache (and that’s the big fish, that’s what Arthur Mathews and I thought of first), one of the reasons it works is that the audience didn’t realise we were setting them up.

Holly Walsh
Stand-up/TV and radio writer
Walsh has previously written BBC3 sitcom ‘Dead Boss’ with Sharon Horgan, and her new radio series ‘Best Behaviour’ starts on Radio 4 on 7 May at 6.30pm.

My tip for writing comedy would be to find someone to collaborate with. OK, so you’ll share the money, but you’ll also share self-doubt and inner loathing, so it kind of balances out. My favourite days are sitting in a room with someone else and trying to make them laugh. You might then have to go off and work stuff up on your own, but at least you know one person has found it funny. Oh, and move around. You’d be surprised how many problems are solved walking to and from the loo. So drink plenty of tea.

The rest of the article: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/comedy/features/how-do-you-write-good-comedy-some-of-britains-finest-comedians-share-their-knowledge-10182878.html

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Monday morning writing joke: “Dented erudition”

There once was a man of erudition /

who took to writing science fiction. /

His thoughts were transcendent, /

his paragraphs perfectly indented, /

but still something got lost in transmission.

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Crime fiction vs. thriller: left wing vs. right wing?

Why crime fiction is leftwing and thrillers are rightwing

Today’s crime novels are overtly critical of the status quo, while the thriller explores the danger of the world turned upside down. And with trust in politicians nonexistent, writers are being listened to as rarely before

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/apr/01/why-crime-fiction-is-leftwing-and-thrillers-are-rightwing?CMP=share_btn_fb

by Val McDermid

I spent the weekend in Lyon, at a crime writing festival that feted writers from all over the world in exchange for us engaging in panel discussions about thought-provoking and wide-ranging topics. They take crime fiction seriously in France – I was asked questions about geopolitics, and the function of fear. I found myself saying things like “escaping the hegemony of the metropolis” in relation to British crime writing in the 1980s.

What they are also deeply interested in is the place of politics in literature. Over the weekend, there were local elections in France, and a thin murmur of unease ran through many of the off-stage conversations with my French friends and colleagues. They were anxious about the renaissance of the right, of the return of Nicolas Sarkozy, the failure of the left and the creeping rise of the Front National.

As my compatriot Ian Rankin pointed out, the current preoccupations of the crime novel, the roman noir, the krimi lean to the left. It’s critical of the status quo, sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly. It often gives a voice to characters who are not comfortably established in the world – immigrants, sex workers, the poor, the old. The dispossessed and the people who don’t vote.

The thriller, on the other hand, tends towards the conservative, probably because the threat implicit in the thriller is the world turned upside down, the idea of being stripped of what matters to you. And as Bob Dylan reminds us, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

Of course, these positions don’t usually hit the reader over the head like a party political broadcast. If it is not subtle, all you succeed in doing is turning off readers in their droves. Our views generally slip into our work precisely because they are our views, because they inform our perspective and because they’re how we interpret the world, not because we have any desire to convert our readership to our perspective.

Except, of course, that sometimes we do.

Rest of the article: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/apr/01/why-crime-fiction-is-leftwing-and-thrillers-are-rightwing?CMP=share_btn_fb

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A counterpoint:

Thrillers are politically conservative? That’s not right

Val McDermid says that while crime fiction is naturally of the left, thrillers are on the side of the status quo. Jonathan Freedland votes against this reading

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/apr/03/thrillers-politically-conservative-val-mcdermid-crime-fiction-jonathan-freedland

by Jonathan Freedland

Quickfire quiz. Identify the following as left or right. Big business? On the right, obviously. Trade unions? Left, of course. The one per cent? That’d be the right. Nicola Sturgeon? Clearly, on the left. If those are too easy, try this literary variant. Crime novels: right or left? And what about thrillers: where on the political spectrum do those belong?

Val McDermid, undisputed maestro of crime, reckons she knows the answer. Writing earlier this week, she argued that her own genre was rooted firmly on the left: “It’s critical of the status quo, sometimes overtly, sometimes more subtly. It often gives a voice to characters who are not comfortably established in the world – immigrants, sex workers, the poor, the old. The dispossessed and the people who don’t vote.”. Thrillers, by contrast, are inherently conservative, “probably because the threat implicit in the thriller is the world turned upside down, the idea of being stripped of what matters to you.”

I understand the logic. You can see how McDermid’s own novels, like those of, say, Ian Rankin – another giant in the field, whom she cited as an ally in this new left/right branding exercise – do indeed offer a glimpse into the lives of those too often consigned to the margins, those power would prefer to ignore. But does that really go for all crime writing, always? If it does, someone forgot to tell Miss Marple.

Still, my quibble is not really with McDermid’s claim that the crime novel leans leftward. I want to object to the other half of her case: that the thriller tilts inevitably towards the right. As someone who is both a card-carrying Guardian columnist and a writer of political thrillers, I feel compelled to denounce the very idea.

Sure, there are individual stars of the genre who sit on the right. Tom Clancy was an outspoken Republican (though even his most famous creation, Jack Ryan, was ready to rebel against a bellicose US president for meddling in Latin America). But Clancy’s conservatism is more the exception than the rule.

Consider the supreme master of the spy thriller, John le Carré. His cold war novels stood against the mindless jingoism of the period, resisting the Manichean equation of east-west with evil-good. In the last decade, Le Carré has mercilessly exposed the follies of the war on terror, probing deep into the web of connections that ties together finance, politics and the deep state. The older he gets, the more Le Carré seems to be tearing away at the establishment and its secret, complacently amoral ways.

Rest of the article: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/apr/03/thrillers-politically-conservative-val-mcdermid-crime-fiction-jonathan-freedland

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