Essays and Articles

How to Write Funny

So you want to know how to write funny?

“People think it’s very hard to be funny but it’s an interesting thing—if you can do it, it’s not hard at all.” ~ Woody Allen

Well, excuuuuse me, but most of us can’t do it. Or, if we sometimes do it, we have no idea how we did it. So, I interviewed some comics and here’s what I’ve discovered: No one knows how to write funny!

Almost no one.  Arthur Black is a very funny guy who lives on an island in the Salish Sea, and who claims to know how he does it.  He hovers over his keyboard and then… more

Pearls of Wisdom – Compelling Stories

How and why do good stories compel us as they do?  For the answer, let’s cut to the chase – actually it would be shortly after the obligatory chase scene – to that part of the story where finally the source of meaning and satisfaction is found – at the climax.

When we buy a ticket to a serious movie, we’re really paying to watch vicariously as characters suffer through life-changing ordeals.  The protagonist is typically forced into a dead-end where she must in some way become super-human or die.  We know this moment is coming.  We count on it.  Most stories are designed so that we can participate by anticipating this showdown. more

Tattoos and the Heart of Fiction

The novel’s protagonist wears a hidden tattoo. No butterfly or rose for this determined 17 year old – this is a text tattoo honouring a mythical paradise high in the Himalayas. She wears the tattoo over her heart, which serves to connect her to a loved one who is long gone. (Not your average tattoo for girls.) The story makes scant reference to the tattoo, yet the reader senses quite rightly that the girl’s belief in this Shangri-La has hardwired her to certain radical but loveable attitudes. And whatever shapes the hero’s life, cannot help but shape the story’s plot. The tattoo is literally a clue to what the book is about. And (literally again) it signifies where the story is headed. more

In Search of the Blackheath Golfer

Blackheath meant nothing to me until one day it meant everything.  That a portrait two centuries old could dispatch me to the ends of the earth – if not in fact then at least in my imagination  – was alarming.  Such is the lure of Blackheath – sporting treasure, work of art, and footnote to a bloody revolution all rolled into one long-lost canvas. more


What Makes a Good Tattoo?

Everyone wants a ‘good’ tattoo, but let’s be honest, an alarming number fall short of the mark. Judging from the phenomenal growth of the tattoo removal business, it would seem that many tattoo owners agree. When you add up the regret, expense and discomfort of the prolonged removal process, you have to wonder why more forethought didn’t go into planning and preparing for the tattoo in the first place – because contrary to popular belief, people with tattoos really do care what others think of them. more

Erotic Tattoos: Manufacturing Desire

Body art in general helps define us as individuals. The body as a work of art – what better way to bring order to an existence that’s increasingly chaotic and meaningless? Tattoos, just like strong opinions and expensive leather Italian shoes, provide certainty in an uncertain world. If we don’t feel at home in our bodies, life proves pretty hopeless. Erotic tattoos, then, would seem to be the unique domain of those who feel especially comfortable in their own skin. more