Today, I’m pleased to welcome hilarious Dave Hackett to DeeSribe Writing. Dave has generously agreed to share his comedy writing tips with us, and I’m reviewing his very funny new book for teens, The Summer of Kicks.
Dave Hackett (Cartoon Dave) is currently seen each week on Channel Eleven’s Toasted TV and Channel Seven’s It’s Academic, He has written a number of cartoon and funny books for kids, and is known for his lively humour, and he brings this to his writing in The Summer of Kicks, and to his main character, Starrphyre.
DAVE’S INSPIRATION FOR WRITING ‘THE SUMMER OF KICKS’
For a long time I’ve had a real yearning to write a comedy/romance from a teenage guy’s perspective.
Growing up, I was the only guy in a house full of girls, and I wanted to tell a story from that perspective. Like a three-year-old with an IKEA flat-pack bunk-bed and desk combo to assemble, I wanted to write a character who knows what his end game is, but has no idea how to get there. He’s surrounded by girls at home, overloaded with inside information on the female species, but getting close to anything that would resemble a potential girlfriend in the real world is going to require more than a step-by-step instruction booklet and a handful of allen keys.
DAVE’S COMEDY WRITING TIPS
- Be Funny. Comedy really sucks if it’s serious.
- I’ve heard it said that to write comedy, it’s a great idea to work with someone else. Find a partner – someone to bounce ideas off. Someone whose gasping-desperately-for-air-stomach-cramping-peeing-their-brand-new-jogging-pants response to your last line is evidence enough that you’re onto something witty. If nobody likes you enough to work that closely with you, at the very least, read your funny bits to anyone you can find, and gauge their response. (two year olds and cats don’t count).
- This is a gold mine of opportunity, because (and this might surprise you) – your characters can say anything you want them to say. If you’re writing about teenagers, go and listen to actual human teenagers talking to each other (some might put a label on this activity, like ‘eavesdropping’ or ‘invasion of privacy’, but let’s just call it research). Go out into the world, sit near a bunch of them in the food court and listen to them talk. It’s hilarious.
- Take a character or two, find a situation and ask: What’s the dumbest, most embarrassing thing that could possibly happen here? Make a list and then choose the thing that you’d least like to happen to you. And go there. And stay there. And then make it worse for them. Unbearably worse. (See, this is fun!) In your story-writing world, you are God. You’re the all-seeing, all-knowing, designer of all things (but let’s just clarify that this is just in your story-writing world. You’re not actual God. Don’t get ahead of yourself). The bottom line is, what you say goes.
- Remember, humour doesn’t work if it’s forced or too contrived. If you’re having trouble with funny, if it’s not coming naturally to you, maybe you should be writing sanitation manuals, or a series on the joys of accounting. But if it is comedy that you really want to tackle, don’t be afraid to look close to home for your ideas. Think of all the moments in your life that were cringe-worthy at the time, that you can look back on and laugh about now, and start there.
Comedy is challenging to write, but life is comedy that writes itself.
MY REVIEW – THE SUMMER OF KICKS
Starrphyre is your average sensitive-meets-dorky 16-year-old, with a tragic hippy name thanks to his parents – live to air radio therapist mum, and a bass player dad from a one hit wonder 80s metal band.
All Starrphyre wants is one date with his dream girl, Candace McAllister. Or at least, a meaningful conversation. It seems like he might get his wish when he gets the starring role opposite her in the school musical, but things don’t quite go according to plan. Added to this are Starrphyre’s ongoing battles with his sister’s meat headed boyfriend who has become his room mate, a friendly stalker, an internet scandal and a pair of shoes that get him into a whole lot of trouble.
Starrphyre makes mistakes, but you can’t help liking him. He has a good heart and a great sense of humour, but he also has many cringe worthy moments in the story, which is one of the things that make this book so authentically teen.
In Starrphyre’s character, Dave Hacket captures all the awkwardness and vulnerability of being sixteen and embarking on first relationships.
Starrphyre’s loyalties are often torn between family and friends, between friends and friends, but you get the feeling he will make the right decisions in the end.
I also loved the secondary characters in the story from his oddball but wise mother, the sex therapist to his school mates and the people he works with in his first job.
The lives of the characters in this story are entwined in a complex mesh that brings plenty of twists and surprises to the story.
There’s plenty of action and humour to carry the reader along with Starrphyre on his journey and I also like the way female point of view characters are sensitively portrayed through the main character’s eyes.
I can see this book appealing universally to teens of both genders.
Thanks so much for visiting my blog, Dave and sharing your great tips. I hope that The Summer of Kicks finds its way onto many bookshelves:)