Did you see Gielgud’s Bottom?

geilgud_Sounds smutty and a bit ‘carry on’, doesn’t it. A typical response might be, ‘No, but his King Lear was divine.’

Even the bard’s attempts to write fantasy and humour are often perceived as lesser works compared to his serious writing.

My first attempt to write full length novel was a parody of the fantasy genre. Dissatisfied with the derivative offerings (crap) being sold as “high fantasy” I wanted to poke fun at it.

At the time I was regularly travelling on the train and spent my journey giggling like an idiot at the scenes unfolding on my computer. This also meant I never had to share a table with anybody.

The best way to avoid the nutter on the train is to be the nutter!

Of course when I asked other people’s opinions, my efforts took a hammering. I now understand the writing was flawed, but the main feedback was people just didn’t get it. Scenes where I was being ridiculously over the top sexist were criticised as … being sexist! (Doh) I decided that if I had to scream, ‘It’s a parody!’ then I was failing.

Many people say it and I have to agree; humour is the hardest form of writing. Where people accept they don’t like a specific genre such as Romance or Detective, they don’t appear to consider there could be forms of humour they don’t get – a story is simply wrong.
Even those who enjoy humorous books are often apologetic, because their reading matter isn’t sufficiently weighty in meaning.

That is why I have a great respect for the Sir Terry Pratchett (STP) and Douglas Adams (DA). They wrote magnificent works, but will never be regarded amongst of the great literary minds, purely because they made us smile.

So many times people will quote from Hitch Hiker’s Guide, possibly no longer knowing where it came from. DA was taken far too soon.

pratchett_As well as contributing a huge canon of work to British Literature, STP contributed to my writing with the simple statement (Writers and Artist Yearbook):

‘Make your world work.’

By this he meant, when you create a fantasy world, you still have to think out how trade and money flow. Without doing so, a world is simply a matte background rendering everything in it unreal.

As a learner fantasy writer, I hated the idea of spending time not just thinking up backdrops and action, but also needing to plan how the various countries functioned.

Was it necessary?

In my mind it proved essential. Even if I don’t mention Serenia trades wool as well as warriors, or Bara sell spices and minerals. Knowing how my world works shapes my thinking of how my characters move around.

Will I ever attempt humour again? Never say never. I still chuckle on the train.

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